Cats, Hawks prepare to scrap again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats, Hawks prepare to scrap again

21/07/2009 07:20:47 PM Comments (0)

Geelong are preparing themselves for another fierce physical test in Saturday's AFL blockbuster against Hawthorn at the MCG.

Rivalry round is an apt setting for the clash, with some real feeling between these two sides.

The Hawks have also returned to form with strong wins over North Melbourne and Collingwood and are equal-eighth.

A win over the Cats, whom they famously upset in last year's grand final, will give their belated finals push a turbo boost.

The Hawks at their best are masters at physical pressure and Ben McGlynn's harassment of Alan Didak last Saturday night worked superbly.

Coach Mark Thompson is offering or expecting no quarter, but wants the game to be played in the same spirit as the memorable round-14 clash with St Kilda.

Asked if his players would discuss the likelihood of "aggro" before playing the Hawks, Thompson replied: "It will, a little bit - we knew when we played the Saints that it was going to be a really physical game.

"That was a beautiful game of footy because there wasn't one cheap shot, there wasn't one thing that you thought `aw, that's just against the spirit of the game'.

"That game was just a full-on, man's game, a contested game - that's what we'll be talking about this week.

"We don't want to be involved in anything else, rather than being really hard at the ball."

Also asked if the Hawks were physical in the right way, Thompson simply replied: "yeah".

While Thompson said the Hawks would be desperate to win, it is also an important match for the Cats.

They remain second, but lost to the Saints and then Brisbane and almost strolled through the last three quarters of Saturday's win over Melbourne.

They are not struggling, but certainly not firing, either.

"In a lot of ways, you can't get upset too much with them just doing what they did last week, because you know this week will be better," he said.

"It's a massive game, big crowd, playing a good opposition - it will just bring the best out of our boys."

Geelong should regain Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel and utility James Kelly from injury and brilliant forward Steve Johnson is also close to resuming from his hip problem.

"Stevie Johnson has got to tick a few boxes yet ... he's 70-30, maybe 80-20," Thompson said.

"The two more likely are Bartel and Kelly."

Captain Tom Harley and defender David Johnson are trying to prove their fitness, but seem unlikely to be ready.

Geelong won an often-fiery clash with the Hawks in round one, but Hawthorn have won four of their last six games.

A key feature of Saturday's clash will be how the Cats deal with resurgent key forward Lance Franklin.

Full-back Matthew Scarlett will no doubt play on Franklin when the Hawks star is close to goal, but his greater mobility probably means more than one player will have the assignment.

"'Scarlo' is probably no good if he's going to push up the field all the way," Thompson said.

"He just looks like he's been running more, he looks like he's a bit fitter and playing without the pressure of having to perform.

"He looks like he's enjoying the footy at the moment."

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