Week off to be crucial for Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Week off to be crucial for Cats

By Roger Vaughan and Adam Cooper 06/09/2009 03:02:00 PM Comments (0)

Geelong's weekend without a match looms as the key to their AFL finals campaign.

The Cats have earnt the week's break ahead of the preliminary final for the third-straight year, this time beating the Western Bulldogs in Saturday's qualifying final by 14 points.

Their well-documented injury problems, plus a scratchy finish to the regular season, mean the time out this September will be particularly important.

Geelong nearly blew their 2007 preliminary final against Collingwood and were also off their best last year in beating the Bulldogs, before losing the grand final to Hawthorn.

"We haven't played well in our last two prelims, so we're trying to do things a little bit different this year with our training," Cats key forward Cameron Mooney told Channel Nine on Sunday.

"We'll train a bit harder this week and rest up next week. In the last couple of years we've trained a bit harder going into the prelim the second week, which hasn't done us good.

"We may have the weekend off. I think we'll train very hard Friday and recovery Saturday and then go into a normal Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday thing the next week."

The bye weekend takes a lot of pressure off star forward Steve Johnson as he recovers from hip surgery.

The Cats plan for Johnson to be ready for the preliminary final.

"He's going really well - while we trained on Friday, he was running laps of the oval," Cats midfielder Jimmy Bartel told Channel Seven.

"(That) was pretty amazing, given he was struggling to move without pain." Bartel added that over the last four weeks, Johnson had been probably able to complete just one full training session.

Max Rooke also missed the qualifying final with quad muscle soreness, while captain Tom Harley and ruckman Brad Ottens have come back from injury.

Defender Corey Enright, who amassed an amazing 17 disposals in the first quarter on Saturday, said Ottens is an X-factor for the Cats.

"He honestly does make (us) a better side and our midfielders walk a lot taller," Enright told 3AW.

"It's just his presence, his size around stoppages, his ability to get his hand on the ball and give us first use, it's what makes him a good player for us."

Bartel rates the Cats at eight out of 10 at the moment, but said there were definitely signs of their best against the Bulldogs.

"The way we played - we actually started to play a bit of the old Geelong football, that contested brand of football, we moved it forward pretty quick," he said.

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