Weary Cats primed for Eagles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Weary Cats primed for Eagles

Justin Chadwick 07/07/2011 06:32:20 PM Comments (0)

Ladder-leading Geelong will attempt to shake off the effects of back-to-back six-day breaks and a taxing trip to Perth when they take on emerging AFL powers West Coast at Patersons Stadium on Friday night.

The Cats' perfect record under new coach Chris Scott was shattered last Saturday in a shock four-point loss to eighth-placed Essendon.

Geelong's usually-slick running game seemed unusually flat against the Bombers, but forward Mitch Duncan believed the result was an aberration rather than a sign the squad was starting to fatigue.

"We came off a six-day break last week and have another six-day break this week, along with flying to Perth," Duncan said.

"But I think everyone's coping pretty well.

"We're a pretty fit side at the moment and the boys are doing well."

Fifth-placed West Coast (9-4) proved their top-four credentials were more than just a mere pipe dream in their recent win over Carlton in Melbourne.

Geelong have won eight of their past nine clashes in Perth, but Duncan said playing West Coast on their home turf was now one of the toughest challenges in the competition.

"What do they call it, the House of Pain? It's definitely a big challenge for us," Duncan said.

"They're definitely playing like a top-four team. They've got a whole new game style.

"Their ruckmen (Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui) are a big danger to us with their ability to get their hands on the ball.

"And although we have a lot of big, tall backs, their big forwards are in good form at the moment, so we have to stop them."

The Cats have been bolstered by the return of smooth movers Travis Varcoe, Joel Corey and Taylor Hunt, but Andrew Mackie (soreness) and Mitch Brown (shoulder) were ruled out through injury and Tom Gillies was dropped.

West Coast resisted the urge to rush back vice-captain Beau Waters after just one WAFL hit-out, instead opting for tagger Patrick McGinnity and midfielder Koby Stevens to replace suspended forward Quinten Lynch and injured defender Sam Butler (quad).

The loss of Lynch will be particularly felt by the Eagles, who have relied heavily on the 2006 premiership forward's contested marking prowess and long kicking this season.

West Coast coach John Worsfold said 19-year-old forward Jack Darling would be asked to play a bigger role to fill the void left by Lynch.

"Jack Darling has shown that he can take marks leading up the ground," Worsfold said.

"I'm sure he can fill the role adequately if we decide to go that way."

Worsfold highlighted Geelong's ability to rebound from defence as a key area to shut down, and said forward Steve Johnson, who was kept quiet last week before booting three late goals, also loomed as a danger.

"He's a match-up that's always a bit of a challenge but we've been really pleased with the way our young defenders have been going," Worsfold said.

Duncan, who was snared with pick No.28 in the 2009 national draft, said he was content at the Cats and harboured no plans of moving back to Perth.

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