You’ve heard the hype for at least a week maybe more now. Collingwood vs. Geelong. 1 vs. 2. Many of the most knowledgeable people in the AFL are touting the Cats as the biggest challenger to the rampant Magpies. And after all who am I, a Cats fan thousands of miles away in Richmond, Virginia in the United States to disagree with seasoned observers like Mike Sheahan, Mark Robinson, Gerard Whately and others. But disagree I shall.
Six wins out of six is a brilliant start. The fresh voice and perspective of Chris Scott is exactly what the Cats needed. Mitch Duncan, Daniel Menzel and Taylor Hunt have injected some fresh blood into the lineup. Like all the other Cats fans I am elated. But good enough to mix it with Collingwood. Sorry but the Cats will have to do it on the field before I believe it.
When they met in round 19 last year, the Cats led by 1 at halftime. In the next six terms, the second half of that game and the preliminary final, the Magpies outscored Geelong by just over 11 goals, 24.26.170 to 14.18.102. And it wasn’t that close.
Name me a part of a ground where the Cats weren’t overrun in those games. The older legs of Darren Milburn, Cameron Ling and even Matthew Scarlett couldn’t deal with Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Dale Thomas and Travis Cloke. And the worst part for Geelong. They had Gary Ablett that night. Now they don’t. Collingwood didn’t have Chris Tarrant in their backline that night. Now they do.
Collingwood has pace all over their side and unbelievable dynamism that makes their press very difficult to cope with. If the Cats couldn’t deal with that last year what about now when they have will have 7 players (Paul Chapman, Corey Enright, Ling, Milburn, Cameron Mooney, James Podsiadly, David Wocjcinski) on the ground near or over 30 years old.
And look at the concentration of those older players, mostly in defense and attack. Does Geelong have a full forward that can keep someone like Harry O’Brien from going forward and adding to the attack. Can their defense deal with the marking machine that Cloke has become and the goal-kicking prowess of Jarryd Blair?
Despite Geelong’s excellent start I am not convinced that the answer to those questions are yes. And here’s the other scary thing for the Cats. Collingwood have barely gotten out of second gear for most of this season. They haven’t put together four good quarters or reached the form they were playing at the end of the 2010 season. And yet the Magpies’ percentage is a mere 178.11. I think all this talk about Geelong challenging Collingwood will spur the Magpies show everyone what their best can look like. And if that happens another hammering will be on the cards.
I hope that doesn’t occur. But if it does, here’s what I don’t want to hear. Do not put the words fraud or overrated in the same sentence as the Cats! Don’t slaughter the Cats if the Magpies tornado blows them away. The Cats are better than I thought, they have a leg up in what will be a fantastic race for spots 2-4 on the ladder this season. They are not Collingwood good. But then again, no one at this point is.