Tall timber targeted

THE GLADIATOR: Cat Tom Harley at Skilled Stadium last night. Photo: GEELONG ADVERTISER  
Friday, June 14

GEELONG coach Mark Thompson is confident his backline will be able to counter Sydney's tall forwards at the SCG.

Sydney has recalled Tony Lockett, Jude Bolton, Ben Matthews and Michael O'Loughlin to its side to challenge an unchanged Geelong tomorrow night.

The inclusion of Lockett and O'Loughlin further adds to Thompson's concerns, with the Swans' forward line now boasting four genuine goalkickers all above 188cm.

But the Cats coach is confident defenders Matthew Scarlett, Tom Harley, Jarad Rooke, Darren Milburn and skipper Ben Graham can combat the Swans' talls.

``We can cope with that,'' he said before training at Skilled Stadium last night.

``We have Tom, Ben, Dasher (Milburn) plays tall, Scarlett and Jarad Rooke plays tall also.

``Tony Lockett has kicked a lot of goals in his career and he will demand a good defender on him.''

Former Geelong Falcons Amon Buchanan will also line-up for his second career game with the Swans.

Leigh Brockman (calf) was the only forced omission for the Sydneysiders, while Daniel McPherson, Brett Kirk and Scott Stevens were all dropped.

Geelong baulked at the opportunity to rotate its youngsters at the selection table. The Cats opted to retain Charlie Gardiner but resisted the temptation to usher Gary Ablett junior back despite a stand out performance in the VFL last weekend.

Sydney has lost its past five games in succession. Thompson is not reading too much into the Swans' win-loss ratio, but is aware of how to best play the tight SCG ground.

`(The SCG) is a wide ground as well as a short ground so you have to play down the middle and move the ball quickly,'' he said.

``The way the Swans play, if you move the ball slow they will pack out our forward line with players.''

Thompson conceded the retirement of Wayne Schwass would be a motivating factor for the Swans.

``Certainly he is well liked amongst the group so they will certainly want to see him go out on a winning note, I would suggest,'' he said.

``In the end I don't know how much it means. Our boys didn't go that well for Buddha at Optus Oval.''

Thompson resisted the temptation to show his players the final quarter of last week's enthralling two-point win over Carlton, but told his charges where the blame lay for the final quarter fade out.

``The middle of the ground is responsible but also the defenders,'' he said.