CATSī SEASON COMPARISON;
Chris Cavanagh of Betfair 2 August 2008
By Chris Cavanagh ofBetfair
Geelong were absolutely awesome last year, smashing Port Adelaide by 119 points in what was the biggest ever Grand Final win, by far. But how do they compare this year?
Yes, the Cats are 10 points clear on top of the ladder after round 17, but where were they last year and how convincing have they been?
The Cats have won 16 of 17 games this season with an average winning margin of 47 points. One 86-point loss to Collingwood in round nine is the only blemish in what has been another outstanding season. It is fair to say spirits are high down at the Cattery are flying.
Wind the clock back one year and study the Geelong's 2007 premiership path and there are some interesting observations. At the conclusion of round 17 2007, they were again eight points clear on top of the ladder but last time round they had lost three games, all of which were in the first five rounds, to the Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn and North Melbourne.
Interestingly enough all three losses were during forward Steve Johnson's club-imposed suspension. In Johnson's 20 games in 2007 after his round six return he kicked 49 goals and averaged 19 disposals a game in a stellar season.
Geelong's gun midfield has had similar years again in 2008. Gary Ablett has averaged 28 disposals (27 in 2007), reigning Brownlow medallist James Bartel 28 (27 in 2007), Paul Chapman 21 (22 in 2007), Cameron Ling 23 (20 in 2007) and Joel Selwood 24 (19 in 2007).
The problem for Geelong however is keeping these guys fit. Between them the five have missed a total of eight games through injury, Bartel the only one to have played every game.
As a team Geelong are still going smoothly. Their time in front percentage is at 72% this year (76% for 2007). The Cats average score is one point per game more than the same time last year (115), while their defence has again stood up well conceding an average of 76 points per game (72 in 2007).
There appears to be only one major change between the Geelong of 2007 and the Geelong of 2008. In 2007 the Cats averaged 385 disposals a game, in 2008 that figure has ballooned out to 409 a game.
A slightly less direct game style the only change between the Cats two seasons, quite amazing really. Only one question remains, are Geelong a sure AFL bet to replicate the Grand Final win of 2007. And having played the second and third teams over the last two weeks and winning convincingly, it would appear little stands in their way.