Cats ‘putting finals hoodoo in moment’

TALL ORDER: Rhys Stanley, pictured against Carlton in round 23 contesting the ruck, which could be a key battlefield tonight. Picture: MARCEL BERENS

Geelong and Collingwood will face off in a sold-out MCG blockbuster tonight, with the Cats looking to book their place in a preliminary final.

Despite finishing top of the ladder on percentage, the Cats must overcome a poor finals record of 3-9 since winning three straight during their 2011 premiership.

But Geelong coach Chris Scott told a press conference on Tuesday he was unconcerned with the Cats’ past finals performance.

“Something that happened in 2013 or 2014 is just not relevant,” he said.

“People see patterns in things that are random all the time – that’s their problem, not mine. We’re trying to live in the moment a little bit more than that.”

The Cats were much better prepared for “the big moments” despite media comparisons to their elimination final exit against the Demons last year, Scott said.

“Last year we finished eighth for a reason, and I would argue we finished first for a reason this year. We’re just better prepared because we’re a better team.”

The Cats will face the Pies in front of more than 90,000 people in the qualifying final.

But the despite the MCG final meaning a more pro-Collingwood crowd, the Cats have a good record of four wins, one loss at the ground this year.

Scott backed his backmen against Collingwood’s “unusual forward line” of Jordan Roughead, Jordan De Goey and Jaidyn Stephenson.

“We’ll back what we’ve done for the majority of the year,” he said.

“But we have had small shifts there and we always have an eye to the opposition. It would be naïve to say we’ll just roll out the same group of players.”

Defenders like Mark Blicavs and Harry Taylor peeling off their player to spoil or take intercept marks has been a strength of Geelong’s defence this year.

“We won’t get too locked into one or two match ups or be manipulated in that sense,” Scott said.

Geelong’s defence has been by far the best in the league this year, holding the opposition to a total 1462 points.

Geelong has held Collingwood to an average of 56.6 points in their past three meetings since round 22 in 2017.

The Cats face a pivotal battle to beat or at least nullify All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy’s ability to feed the ball to Collingwood’s onballers.

The Cats have struggled to find stability in the ruck, switching between Rhys Stanley and Zac Smith, with versatile tall defender Mark Blicavs also stepping in.

But Grundy’s worst game statically this season was back in Round 1 when Rhys Stanley held him to 34 hit-outs and seven clearances.

Stanley had 23 hit-outs and six clearances of his own, and equalled Grundy’s 18 disposals.

Grundy is playing the best football of his career but Stanley found form in round 23 as one of Geelong’s best in their 68-point drubbing of the Blues.

The week off before the finals will likely benefit star veterans Joel Selwood, Harry Taylor and Gary Ablett.

The Cats will also hope for strong performances from All-Australian forward Tom Hawkins and two of the AFL’s best midfielders Tim Kelly and Patrick Dangerfield.

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