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Geelong have skills advantage: Lappin

Greg Buckle 30/08/2011 06:46:13 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood are AFL premiership favourites but Geelong boast a more skilful side, according to Cats assistant coach Nigel Lappin.

Lappin does admit the defending premiers, who have lost only one game in 2011, are so well-drilled under coach Mick Malthouse that their system of play makes them extremely difficult to beat.

The Magpies (80 points), who host Geelong at the MCG in their last-round clash on Friday night, can't be tipped out of top spot. Geelong (72) are likely to retain second place, win or lose.

However after an 11-point win over 14th-placed Adelaide, followed by the bye and an upset loss to Sydney, the Cats need to find some form in a hurry.

Geelong are sticking to their game plan of playing corridor football, despite the potential to turn the ball over and hand the opposition a goal-scoring opportunity.

The Cats remain No.1 for handballs per game in 2011 as they were last year, while Collingwood are 10th.

"There are just times in footy, as good as Geelong are with their ball movement, the game has changed a little bit so there is less time and space through the midfield," Lappin told AAP.

"With the presses, really hard defensive pressure through the midfield, there's going to be times when teams just have to kick the ball out of that pressure.

"Collingwood do that better than anyone. Collingwood don't stuff around with the ball too much.

"They kick it to a contest, they get numbers to the next contest and they win that contest.

"We like to run and carry the ball. We like to bring the ball back through the corridor.

"I've got no problems saying in a lot of ways that I think Geelong's probably, most people would agree, a more skilful team than Collingwood.

"But at the moment, Collingwood's system works better than anyone else's.

Sydney's 2005 premiership coach Paul Roos says old habits die hard for the Cats who are adjusting to first-year coach Chris Scott after more than a decade under MarkThompson which included two flags.

"I know they (Geelong) are trying to kick the ball more, but under pressure on the weekend ... their instincts are still to go corridor," Roos said on Monday night on FoxSports' On The Couch.

"It's very, very difficult to go corridor against teams now that are pressing.

"Most teams are going to go outside."

Geelong midfielder Jimmy Bartel says directing play back through the middle of the ground coming out of defence is "a bit instinctive".

"But it's still a way to break the game open with zones and presses," Bartel told On The Couch.

"You've still got to be able to beat the defence back into position.

"If you can get the ball in there quickly, you can actually have an out-number in your forward line.

"Sometimes it's high risk but there's some big rewards too."

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