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Bartel denies AFL's Cats look wobbly

Greg Buckle 29/08/2011 10:44:01 PM Comments (0)

Geelong midfielder Jimmy Bartel denies the Cats are looking wobbly heading into next month's finals series following their upset loss to Sydney.

The second-placed Cats could go into their AFL qualifying final on the back of two consecutive losses, as they'll start underdogs in Friday night's last-round clash with competition leaders Collingwood.

"It's a bit interesting saying we're wobbly when we've lost three games for the year," Bartel told Fox Sport's On The Couch program on Monday.

"We lost to sides in the top eight but it would have been a different conversation if we'd lost to sides out of the top eight, so I'm not sure who you'd want us to lose to, if we're going to have a loss?

"We haven't played great footy in the last couple of weeks (including an unconvincing win over 14th-placed Adelaide on August 14 followed by the bye).

"But that has got to do with the opposition as well."

Geelong's 13-point loss on Saturday was their first in 30 matches at Skilled Stadium and it came after the visitors rallied to confirm their spot in the top eight for the finals series.

The Cats have known for months they are certain finalists and there was little hanging on last week's game for the home side.

"Probably the Swannies had more to gain out of that game than we did," Bartel said.

"We probably looked flat but I think the Swans definitely outplayed us and looked quicker than us."

Collingwood are guaranteed to finish as minor premiers while the Cats are likely to finish second after the home-and-away season, whether they win or lose on Friday night in front of an expected crowd of 80,000.

"But we play football and we're competitive beasts and I'm sure we'll want to win," Bartel said.

The Cats lost the clearances by 22 against Sydney on Saturday and Bartel says there's no hiding from that deficiency in Geelong's game.

"We need to fix up around our stoppages and our contested balls. I think we're going to keep it as basic as that," the 2007 Brownlow Medallist said.

"The Swans were far too good for us in the stoppages.

"They were in first, better position, structured up probably better."

Sydney's 2005 premiership coach Paul Roos says there's a lot at stake for the Cats on Friday night.

Geelong have made an average of almost five changes per game at selection since round 14.

"That's why Friday night is more important for the Cats," Roos said.

"Let's not get too carried away. They're still second on the ladder.

"They're just in a little bit of a form slump at the moment.

"But they need to settle that team down. They need to go out and play really good football on Friday night.

"Whether they win or lose is irrelevant. It's more about the way they play."

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