AFL Round 23 preview: Geelong vs GWS

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Can Patrick Dangerfield get Geelong over the line again? Picture: AFL media

It’s the final round of the 2017 home and away season and it brings an exciting prelude to the finals series as the 2nd placed Giants take on the 3rd placed Cats in a battle for a home final on Saturday night at Simonds Stadium.

Questions have been raised recently about the Cats premiership hopes after superstar Joel Selwood went down with an ankle injury and last week’s unconvincing 11 point win over Collingwood didn’t help, with it being hard to think the Cats would have survived the scare without Patrick Dangerfield providing a masterclass performance (32 Disposals, 2 goals).

The Giants are coming off a tough 21 point win against the West Coast Eagles, with young star Josh Kelly again proving his free agency value for rival clubs, notching a club record 43 disposals and kicking a goal. The Giants have won their past four games and a win would see them a chance at finishing on top if the Adelaide Crows are to lose to the Eagles on the weekend.

Josh Kelly’s stock continues to rise

The Cats have brought back Mark Blicavs, Brandon Parfitt and Tom Hawkins comes back in after suspension. Sam Simpson, Jackson Thurlow and Zach Guthrie have all been omitted from the lineup. The Giants also have some big inclusions of their own, with Rory Lobb and Steve Johnson both returning to take on the Cats. For e-Cat Johnson, it could very well be his last match down at the Cattery. Harrison Himmelberg and Matt De Boar have made way for Lobb and Johnson.

The punters have narrowly given Geelong the edge at home: Cats $1.87, Giants: $1.95

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR

ONE MAN SHOW?

There has been great concern for the Cats that their top end talent far outweighs the bottom end throughout the season, and that only increased when Joel Selwood went down. Patrick Dangerfield has had two consecutive best-on-ground performances in two tight wins, it begs the question that the Cats could very well be out of the top 4 without him. It will be interesting to see if the likes of Sam Menegola, who has emerged as a prolific ball winner and crucial part of Geelong’s midfield in 2017, and experienced star Mitch Duncan can provide ‘Danger’ with the help he needs.

RESULT IS HUGE

The result of this match is massive for these two teams and the look of the top four, and how it effects the finals race. If the Cats are to get the job done, they move to second and will request a home final at Simonds Stadium from the AFL. If the Giants prevail, they seal their hopes of a home final and could also potentially take the number 1 spot. A loss for the Cats could also see them slip to 4th, if the Tigers are to top St Kilda on Sunday, meaning Geelong would face an uphill battle in the first week of the finals, playing either Adelaide or the Giants on their home decks.

EXPECT A TIGHT BATTLE

This match could very well be the game of the year, with high quality players in all positions of the ground. These sides have been two of the best clearance teams in the competition in 2017 (Giants 1st with 42.7, Cats 6th with 37.9) so expect a fierce battle in the midfield. The last time these two sides met it ended in a draw, with Tom Hawkins looking to seek some redemption after missing a shot after the siren that would have won the Cats the game in 2015.

STARS EVERYWHERE

When two of the best sides go head to head, there will be some exciting match ups. In the midfield the up and coming stars of Dylan Shiel and Stephen Conigilo face the experience of Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan, whilst it will be interesting to see who takes Jeremy Cameron in the Giants forward line. Toby Greene has likely also caused headaches in the Geelong camp, with emerging backs Jed Bews and Tom Stewart looking the best options for Greene. Josh Kelly is in rampaging form, and it will be interesting to see how Geelong decides to counteract his effect.

The first bounce will be at 7.25pm

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