By Natalee Kerr
Geelong will “embrace the opportunity” when they face reigning premier West Coast in a must-win semi-final clash at the MCG tonight, according to coach Chris Scott.
Scott described the match-up as a “significant” test as his side looked to keep its premiership hopes alive.
“(We) accept the challenge, accept the risk that putting yourself on the line brings,” Scott told reporters at Kardinia Park this week.
“(We) accept that the devastation of not getting the job done when the opportunity’s there is worth it to give yourself a chance to prevail.”
Geelong suffered a 10-point qualifying final loss to Collingwood last Friday, making it the third straight year they have experienced a week-one finals defeat.
Scott defended his controversial late decision to drop ruckman Rhys Stanley but vowed to “absorb” the criticism for the call.
“In review, 24 hours post-game, we didn’t think that was the most critical thing in the game for us,” he said.
“We didn’t think that the numbers around the clearance necessarily supported that that was the reason we lost the game.”
Seven-time All-Australian Patrick Dangerfield starred in a slow Geelong side finishing with a team-high 32 touches, seven clearances and a goal.
Scott said his players will be firing from the opening bounce tonight after a disappointing start against the Pies.
“They (Collingwood) had the first 11 entries (inside-50), that clearly put us on the back foot, so in simple terms, that’s been a big focus,” he said.
“We’d like to be more aggressive, certainly more assertive with the way we approach the game.”
A loss to the Eagles will make Geelong the first minor premiers to be knocked out in straight sets since the top eight was introduced in 1994.
West Coast enter the game as favourites after thrashing Essendon by 55 points in their elimination final last Thursday.
Scott said he was not surprised by the hype surrounding the Eagles, despite comfortably defeating them by 58 points earlier this season.
“They’re the reigning premiers, they won a final by 10 goals on the weekend. Everyone is really clear on how good they can be as a team and how good their players are,” he said.
“It’s not confusing to me at all that people would rate them.”
Cats midfielder Mitch Duncan has been ruled out of tonight’s game following a knee injury sustained during last week’s loss.
Meanwhile defender Jed Bews signed a two-year contract extension earlier this week that will see him locked into the Cattery until 2021.
All clubs competing this weekend will wear black armbands in memory of former AFL coach and player Danny Frawley who died this week age 56.