Geelong look vulnerable as finals loom - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Geelong look vulnerable as finals loom

By Roger Vaughan 22/08/2009 04:47:22 PM Comments (0)

Geelong are waging battles on two fronts as their AFL season teeters on the brink.

The Cats, the league's benchmarks for the last two seasons, have clearly slipped in the last month.

They will finish second, but regardless of what happens when they host Fremantle next weekend, Geelong have serious problems heading into the finals.

The 2007 premiers and 2008 grand finalists are suddenly beatable.

The obvious issue is trying to settle the team - Paul Chapman hurt his hamstring again during Friday night's loss to the Western Bulldogs, while star forward Steve Johnson and Tom Harley sat out the game.

Coach Mark Thompson expects Chapman to play and James Kelly to return next weekend, while ruck-forward Brad Ottens is also close to a senior recall.

But the Cats were also too inconsistent against the Bulldogs and this is much more than a question of personnel.

"To play so poorly in the second and then much better in the third, tells you that something is wrong," Thompson said.

"(Last night) and maybe over the last month, we just haven't nailed solid quarter-after-quarter efforts."

In the first half, the Bulldogs dismantled Geelong's run-and-carry out of defence - a foundation of the Cats' game when they are at their best.

At times, a few Geelong players also argued with each other on the field - not a good sign so close to September.

Thompson admits to being worried, but is also optimistic because this is still Geelong.

If they can somehow click over the next fortnight, they are still extremely dangerous.

"It's been difficult, I don't think we'd ever seen it coming, that we could struggle as much as we have in games in such a short time," Thompson said.

"They've been up for a long time - the key and the secret with one more round to go is to open up the can and get them to start enjoying their footy, get them to start working incredibly hard on a consistent basis.

"Now, it's not that far off, we can do this and I've just got to keep pushing that message to the players.

"That's what we've been so good at over the last couple of years, pushing people to great heights and getting them to achieve things that people respect - that's our challenge right now."

Chapman, who was coming back from a hamstring injury, will undergo scans on Monday.

Geelong's medical staff said he could have returned to the field, but the self-described "Dr Thompson" ruled against it.

"We haven't taken that risk because of the situation, the timing of the season and the player who was involved," Thompson said.

"It's not the sort of player you should be messing with, because he's a pretty important player."

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