Cats, Saints search for AFL perfection - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats, Saints search for AFL perfection

By Adam Cooper 18/05/2009 05:28:02 PM Comments (0)

It remains the seemingly unattainable goal, eluding even the greatest sides for over a century.

But could 2009 finally be the AFL season when a team achieves perfection, going through a campaign undefeated?

The superb starts of Geelong and St Kilda have already prompted money on the Cats staying unbeaten through 2009.

TAB Sportsbet have Geelong a $4.50 chance to remain undefeated until the end of the home and away season and expect to offer odds on St Kilda doing the same within the next fortnight.

The Cats' sustained period of excellence has yielded 50 wins from their past 53 games, a stretch that began in round six, 2007, included that year's grand final, but also last year's shock loss to Hawthorn, and the first eight games of this season.

The Saints have been equally impressive and are just two more victories away from matching the club's longest-ever winning streak and equalling their 2004 feat of winning their first 10 games.

Geelong and St Kilda have plenty of football ahead, but if they can maintain form, team ethic and stay injury-free, there is a chance they could enter their round 14 clash unbeaten.

It could then be uncharted territory for the victor of that July 5 game.

The closest a team has come to staying unbeaten was in 1929, when Collingwood won the 18 home and away games, lost the semi-final but recovered to win that year's grand final.

Carlton (1908), South Melbourne (1918) and Essendon (1950, 2000) are the other teams to have won premierships losing only one game, and their defeats all came during the home and away season.

Justin Blumfield, a member of the Bombers' triumphant 2000 side, said the Cats of 2009 were capable of winning every game they played, but even they would need a charmed run.

"You'd need a lot of luck for it to happen," he said on Monday.

"The game's got a closer in recent years, the AFL has worked hard on the draft and making it a fair competition and, after Geelong and St Kilda, the competition is pretty close.

"It's a possibility, especially if you've got great sides such as the way Geelong are performing.

"Their winning run is amazing and they're probably the side of anyone that could possibly do it, but injuries, and the evenness of the competition and having to travel interstate makes it difficult."

Essendon were on track for perfection in 2000, but lost to the Western Bulldogs in round 21, a defeat that Blumfield felt gave the Bombers a wake-up call before the finals.

The Dons' grand final win over Melbourne gave them 24 victories from 25 for the year.

Blumfield said staying unbeaten was never a focus for Essendon, instead it was making up for the devastation of losing the 1999 preliminary final, by one point to Carlton.

"What came into our calculations was winning the grand final, whatever way that would come about," he said.

"We thought there'd be losses along the way, but our ultimate goal was to win the grand final and you can see that in Geelong this year, they've got that resolve to make amends for last year."

Geelong great Bob Davis admits he and his teammates thought about remaining unbeaten in 1953, when the Cats won their first 13 games amid a league record winning streak of 23 games, dating back to the previous season.

"We were getting to that stage, we were a marvellous team and we were playing particularly well at the time," Davis recalled.

"So it's something that gives you great thought (to go through unbeaten), although I think injuries and that sort of thing would make it terribly difficult."

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