Willem van Denderen 8 April 2016

The hype surrounding Geelong's round one domination of Hawthorn lasted barely six days into the 2016 season, dissipating at the hands of a confident GWS side last Sunday. Sitting sixth after two rounds in a competition in which the majority of the clubs have a win and a loss, the Cats will be desperate to add another victory and remain near the competitive end of the ladder. Brisbane are one of four sides yet to register a win this year, tough assignments against two of last years final four sides in West Coast and North Melbourne proving too much for Justin Leppitsch's men. Although they will yet again enter this clash as the underdogs, their ability to hit the scoreboard so far this season will give them confidence that they can kick a score capable of defeating the home side.

SO FAR IN 2016: Geelong's opening match against bitter rivals Hawthorn saw the Cats kick out to an early lead which was reeled in by the reigning premiers, only to kick away again in the final quarter. The final margin of thirty points perhaps did not do the match justice, for it was still in the balance at the twenty minute mark of the fourth quarter. Patrick Dangerfield amassed 43 disposals in what was a clear best on ground display, with Josh Caddy, Darcy Lang and Zac Smith each contributing three goals. Last week saw the Cats squander early scoring shots, their six opening quarter chances yielding just a solitary goal. The Giants sat at around four to six goals ahead for long stages of the match, Geelong often struggling to transition the ball from defensive fifty into the midfield. It seems coach Chris Scott is also yet to settle on his preferred forward structure, the plethora of tall forwards at his disposal on occasion seeming to clutter the forward 50.
Whilst Geelong defeated the reigning premiers, Brisbane conceded 26 goals to last year's defeated grand finalist in round one. The trip to Subiaco proved a very challenging proposition, and the Lions returned home having lost by 64 points. What will have buoyed the side was the regularity with which they hit the scoreboard, their 15 goals coming from five in the first quarter, and four in the third and fourth. The comfort of The Gabba saw an improved performance in round two, however Brisbane were still overrun, this time by 2015 preliminary finalists North Melbourne. In a similar story to round one the Lions scored a respectable 11 goals but conceded 17. A calf injury to captain Tom Rockliff soured the loss further.

THIS WEEK: Geelong fans will welcome the return of crafty forward Daniel Menzel, who has been named in the forward pocket. At the opposite end of the ground, 23 year old Tom Ruggles looks set to debut having been upgraded off the rookie list during the week. Ruggles impressed for Geelong's VFL side last season and again in the Nab Challenge, and will be looking to provide the rebound out of defence the Cats lacked last week. Nakia Cockatoo and George Horlin-Smith have been added to the extended squad, whilst struggling forward Shane Kersten has held his place. Mitch Duncan has been cleared to play following a brutal collision with Giant Shane Mumford last week. Jordan Murdoch is the only confirmed 'out' so far, with what was cited as soreness.

Brisbane have suffered a massive loss in captain Tom Rockliff, an injured calf expected to keep him out for the short-term. Compounding this is the continued absence of classy midfielder Dayne Beams, an ongoing knee problem keeping him on the sidelines. Fortunately for the Lions fellow prime ball-mover Daniel Rich, whose hamstring had put him under an injury-cloud, has been selected in the side. Rockliff's exclusion has seen four players added to the extended squad, with Mitch Robinson, Liam Dawson, Nick Robertson and Billy Evans all a chance to play. Ex-Cat Josh Walker has also been named to face his former side for the first time.

PREDICTION: Geelong should open their 2016 Kardinia Park account with a win over a struggling Brisbane, however the Lions effective forward line coupled with Geelong's questionable defence should ensure this clash is closer than it may appear. Without Rockliff or Beams and question marks over the fitness of Rich, arguably their best three players, it is hard to see the Lions opening their account this week. Geelong, in comparison, should be spurred by a disappointing loss last week, as well as the comfort of their home fans for the first time this season.




IN: Tom Ruggles, Daniel Menzel
: Jordan Murdoch (soreness), Cory Gregson

IN: Mitch Robinson
OUT: Tom Rockliff (calf)

B: Jake Kolodjashnij, Tom Lonergan, Tom Ruggles
HB: Andrew Mackie, Harry Taylor, Corey Enright
C: Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood, Mark Blicavs
HF: Steven Motlop, Shane Kersten, Darcy Lang
F: Daniel Menzel, Tom Hawkins, Lincoln McCarthy
FOLL: Zac Smith, Mitch Duncan, Patrick Dangerfield
INT: Josh Caddy, Cameron Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Rhys Stanley
EMER: Nakia Cockatoo, Cory Gregson, George Horlin-Smith
B: Darcy Gardiner, Daniel Merrett, Claye Beams
HB: Sam Mayes, Harris Andrews, Daniel Rich
C: Ryan Lester, Allen Christensen, Lewis Taylor
HF: Pearce Hanley, Daniel McStay, Josh Green
F: Josh Walker, Josh Schache, Tom Bell
FOLL: Stefan Martin, Dayne Zorko, Mitch Robinson
INT: Ryan Harwood, Ryan Bastinac, Rohan Bewick, Tom Cutler
EMER: Nick Robertson, Liam Dawson, Billy Evans


AFL 2016 ROUND 3


SUNDAY 10 APRIL 2016 14:40 AEST









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