Cats on edge for Magpies AFL clash: Scott - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats on edge for Magpies AFL clash: Scott

Sam Lienert 10/05/2011 05:10:22 PM Comments (0)

Geelong's motivation for Friday night's AFL table-topper against Collingwood is a mixture of the professional and the primal.

First-year coach Chris Scott wants an early measure of how well the tactical tinkering he hopes can return the club to the premiership dais for the third time in five years stands up against the best.

But he admits his players are also driven by a much more old-fashioned instinct, wanting to punish the club that emphatically killed off their premiership defence last year.

"They're not used to losing and they hate it, which is the hallmark of every great competitor, so yes any side that beats them, they're keen to reverse that," Scott said.

"I sense it a little bit, that's probably the best way to describe it, there's nothing tangible.

"They're a highly competitive group, I've worked that out pretty quickly, I've seen it in the early rounds, I find it hard to believe that they could lift any more for this game.

"... But we can't escape the fact it's going to be a terrific contest and a huge challenge for us and the boys can't wait."

Collingwood belted the Cats by 41 points in the preliminary final last year and also downed them by 22 points in round 19.

While acknowledging that the rest of the AFL is playing catch-up, after the Magpies took the game to a new level last season, Scott believes his side might have already made up the ground needed.

"We've played some pretty good footy, I'm not standing here saying we're no chance against the 'unbeatables', we're definitely a chance," he said.

One area the Cats should have an advantage in the battle of the league's two unbeaten clubs is the ruck.

While Collingwood big man Darren Jolly has been ruled out with injury, Geelong counterpart Brad Ottens is all-but certain to play, despite being subbed off at halftime against North Melbourne on Saturday as a cautious reaction to soreness.

Captain Cameron Ling (hamstring) and forward Steve Johnson (shoulder) are also expected to return from injury, placing the Cats near full-strength.

While memories of last year's preliminary final gives an added edge to the contest, Scott said it was almost irrelevant tactically, given how the game, and particularly the Cats, have progressed since.

Most notably, the frenetic chains of handball from defence that served them so well before failing in the face of Collingwood's ferocious forward press in the finals have been replaced by a greater willingness to kick to contests.

But regardless of how Geelong's altered style holds up, Scott said they would need to continue to develop it.

"The game will change, we play them again in round 24, whatever we do this week probably won't work in round 24, you've got to stay really agile and on top of things," he said.

Scott said the Magpies' game plan seemed largely unchanged but he had noticed one chink in their armour this season.

"Sides have got hold of them for small periods of games and they've been scored against, which is a little bit unusual," he said.

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