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Geelong faces the prospect of being bundled out of the AFL finals in straight sets if it can’t beat Sydney Friday night.
The Cats finished second on the ladder, but were belted to the tune of 51 by Richmond last Friday night.
The loss means Geelong will now have to win a premiership from the harder side of the finals fixture with the resurgent Swans tonight and then a potential match up with the Crows at Adelaide Oval in a preliminary final.
Coach Chris Scott will be plotting how to score more goals. Geelong’s 5.10.40 was its lowest score in a final since 1914.
Geelong had just 38 inside 50s, its lowest of the season and a huge 37 clangers.
Geelong’s slow start proved costly, although they got back into the game late in the second quarter.
In contrast, Sydney is the AFL’s second-best starting team this season.
Qualifying finals have been played in various forms since 1972, but only one team has recovered from a margin of 51 points or more – as Geelong was beaten by on Friday night – to make the grand final.
That was the Cats in 1989 when they lost the qualifying final to Essendon by 76 points, before fighting back to win their next two games to make the grand final.
Losing a qualifying final isn’t the death sentence that many think it is.
Two of the past four qualifying final losers – Sydney and Hawthorn – have bounced back to make a grand final that season.
The juggernaut that is Sydney, just keeps rolling along. The Swans have won 15 of their past 17 games after dropping their first six matches.
Patrick Dangerfield may need to spend more time up forward for Geelong and Harry Taylor is almost certain to go back to defence where he is no doubt more comfortable.
Joel Selwood will either be better for last week’s run or sore after having surgery on an injured ankle back in August.
Lance Franklin looms as the main danger in Sydney’s forward line with Taylor or Tom Lonergan likely to be given the mammoth task of curtailing the champion big man.
The Cats will play much better than last Friday night, but will it be enough?
The game starts at 7.50pm at the MCG. Extra V/Line train services have been scheduled.

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