By Justin Flynn
The equation is simple for Geelong – win the last two games and earn second spot on the ladder and a home final.
The Cats face 13th-placed Collingwood tomorrow afternoon at the MCG and while the Pies have presented their challenges recently, it is a game Geelong should win.
That sets up an epic final-round showdown with Greater Western Sydney at Simonds Stadium, with the winner to grab second spot on the ladder and a home qualifying final.
But, first things first.
Collingwood has won its past three encounters against Geelong and six of the past eight.
The Pies are somewhat of a mini-bogey side for the Cats.
Geelong will welcome back midfielder Mitch Duncan from a one-game suspension. Duncan missed Geelong’s stirring win against Richmond, and will offer much-needed engine room support to Patrick Dangerfield, who was superb again last weekend.
Geelong is the best tackling team in the competition. It averages 74.6 tackles per game to Collingwood’s 67.8.
Harry Taylor was best afield up forward last week with four goals and with Tom Hawkins absent for another week he will probably play the same role against the Pies.
Ben Reid kicked four goals for the Woods last week, and could cause some headaches in Geelong’s defence if Taylor plays forward as expected.
Collingwood will be without Brodie Grundy for another week due to suspension, leaving Mason Cox to shoulder the ruck responsibilities.
The Pies certainly haven’t put the cue in the rack and are not playing for a better draft position. Coach Nathan Buckley is still not guaranteed another contract and is trying to win as many games as possible.
The Pies were decent against Port Adelaide last week, but not quite good enough. It has been the story of their season.
In the absence of a host of stars last week, Geelong ‘second tier’ players stood up to drag the side over the line.
Christ Scott was also shrewd in the coaches box, masterminding a plot to negate the powers of All Australian defender Alex Rance.
With Duncan back into the midfield and Steven Motlop displaying seriously good form against Tigers, the Cats have too much to play for to let this slip.
Geelong by 19 points.