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Geelong will seek revenge for last year’s qualifying final defeat when they host Port Adelaide at the GMHBA Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Cats (5-4, 121.4%) were knocked out of the park by St Kilda in the third quarter last week and have failed to record consecutive wins since the third and fourth rounds.
Port Adelaide (4-5, 108.8%) are now just a game behind Geelong despite starting the season 0-5, as Ken Hinkley’s side aim to return to the top eight.
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Geelong were beaten by 43 points when these sides last met in the qualifying final at Adelaide Oval, finishing with their second lowest score of the season.
The Cats made two late changes, with Rhys Stanley and Quinton Narkle both pulled late and replaced by Francis Evans and Cooper Stephens. There were no late changes for the Power.
The starting medical replacements were Gryan Miers (Geelong) and Martin Frederick (Port Adelaide).
This match kicks off at 13:45 AEST from GMHBA Stadium.
Watch it live on Fox Footy (channel 504) starting at 1 p.m. AEST.
QUARTER BY QUARTER MATCH REPORT
It was tough to score early, with the Cats kicking four straight to start the game.
The Power broke through for the first Major, with Jeremy Finlayson pressing an impressive goal from the pocket before Kane Farrell nailed a long-range bomb to silence the crowd at the GMHBA Stadium.
Farrell’s goal came after Power ruckman Sam Hayes won a free-kick due to illegal contact in Geelong star Tom Stewart’s ruck contest. With Stanley late, Stewart was forced to do ruck work while Mark Blicavs was on the ground.
Three-time Premier Lion Jonathan Brown said it looked like a game of “musical chairs”, while four-time Premier Hawk Jordan Lewis asked on Fox Footy: “How much do you want to play with that kind of position against a ruckman who doesn’t like experience, but definitely has the ruck craft?
Power young gun Lachie Jones was then lucky not to connect with Joel Selwood’s header in a ground ball contest. Jones appeared to be preparing for a bump in pace but narrowly missed contact with the Geelong skipper.
“Jones is lucky Selwood got up. He has the toughest head in football,” Brown told Fox Footy.
The Cats then found their groove, scoring three straight through forwards Jeremy Cameron, Brad Close and Tyson Stengle to give the Cats a nine-point quarter lead.
There was a mini scare for the Cats late in the quarter, with Patrick Dangerfield appearing to injure his knee on a tackle. But the superstar ignored the doctors and continued playing, starting the second term in the forward 50.
After key forwards Tom Hawkins and Mitch Georgiades missed set pieces for their respective teams, Farrell completed another handball and nailed his second long bomb goal.
Farrell was then involved in the Power’s second goal for the term, delivering a short pass to Robbie Gray who landed the major set-piece to level the scores.
And when Todd Marshall hit a set piece late in the second quarter, the Power had regained the lead as Geelong struggled to get their kicking game going.
Brown said the Cats had “fallen asleep” and were playing “dull” football.
“There just seems to be a lot of indecision. They’re not on the same page,” Brown said.
“How sloppy were the Cats with their kicking skills?”
Geelong got one against the grain late in the quarter, however, with Hawkins converting on a tough set-piece opportunity to reduce Power’s lead to a point at half-time.
Marshall gave Power the perfect start to the third quarter as Hinkleys’ troops took a seven-point lead.
But Geelong increased their intensity both with and without the ball, getting the better of Power in contested possession and clearance tallies. It sparked three straight Cats goals in Stengle, Jake Kolodjashnij and skipper Joel Selwood.
Brown said the Cats played with more “energy” in the third term, adding: “Geelong’s intensity has absolutely increased.”
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