Cats will know where they're at after clash

THE GREAT INDOORS: Ronnie Burns gets down low at the Life Be In It complex during Geelong training last night. Photo: GEELONG ADVERTISER  
Friday, July 5

GEELONG faces its biggest test of the past five games when it meets West Coast at Skilled Stadium tomorrow.

Coach Mark Thompson last night declared his side would be given an indication of where it is at after the two top-eight sides clash.

The Cats have won four on the trot - Melbourne, Carlton, Sydney and Richmond - and face the sixth-placed Eagles, who have won eight games to date.

Geelong was forced to exclude Charlie Gardiner at the selection table, who is battling a dose of tonsillitis and a mild hip injury. Young Cat Josh Hunt was named as his replacement.

West Coast recalled Kasey Green and Michael Braun for the injured Rowan Jones (knee) and omitted Andrew Williams.

The Eagles are coming off an inspired win against Adelaide last round.

Only one of those victories have been in Victoria, giving Geelong its best chance since the 1999 season to string together five consecutive wins.

``We were lucky against Carlton, lucky against Sydney and we played some reasonable footy last week against a side (Richmond) that is not travelling all that well,'' Thompson said.

``Where are we at? I'm not completely sure we're playing the best footy we can play. There is still room for improvement.''

But he likes what he sees.

``They are playing exciting footy,'' Thompson said.

``It is the sort of footy you like to be involved in and like to watch. It is hard and there is no flooding.

``It is a great opportunity and we have to take that opportunity,'' he added.

Geelong trained intensely indoors last night in a closed-door session to West Coast spies, booted out of the Life Be In It complex by Cats' officials.

All Cats gave a fair showing of their fitness although Glenn Kilpatrick will again miss through a knee injury which forced his withdrawal from last weekend's win.

``He is probably not much closer to what he was this time last week,'' Thompson said.

One danger for the Cats is the form of Eagles' skipper Ben Cousins, who Thompson suggests will be tagged by Cameron Ling.

``He would be an option but we probably can't leave it all up to Cameron,'' Thompson said.

``He (Cousins) is such a good player. His form is equivalent to Shane Crawford when we played Hawthorn early this year.

``We didn't really have a match for Crawford that day so I don't think we could ask Cameron to do it all by himself.''

Meanwhile, Geelong supporters have rallied to the plea of Cats' boss Brian Cook to attend Saturday.

``The response in e-mails and on the web-sites has been fantastic,'' Cook said. ``People are letting us know they have talked family and friends into coming along for the day and that is reflected in advance ticket and seat sales. The challenge to all our supporters is to follow the team's lead and start performing.

``We've had a fall-off in membership figures this year and one of the reasons given was the team's poor performances last year.

``Well our players and coaching staff have turned that around and we're now asking those missing supporters to turn their performance around as well.''

The Cats have budgeted for a crowd of 20,000.