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Five talking points: Geelong v Greater Western Sydney

Ben Guthrie  August 26, 2017 10:15 PM

Highlights: Geelong v GWS The Cats and the Giants in round 23
AFL 2017 Round 23 - Geelong v GWS Giants

Tom Hawkins is crucial for the Cats in September

1. Home is where the heart is for Geelong
There's a big difference in travelling into a hostile environment away from the comforts of your surrounds and playing in front of an adoring home crowd. That was the scenario facing Greater Western Sydney and Geelong on Saturday night and it was the Cats who came up trumps. Geelong will either play GWS again in a fortnight's time, possibly back at Simonds Stadium, or they will have a showdown with Richmond likely to be at the MCG if the Tigers beat the Saints on Sunday. It was an impressive win for the Cats, still minus skipper Joel Selwood, with Mitch Duncan, Patrick Dangerfield and Sam Menegola all rising to the occasion. It was a tough night for the Giants, whose percentage took a decent dip, starting the game with a percentage of 118.3 and ending it with 114.8. 

Full match covrage and stats

2. Hawkins firing at the right time of year
Although Geelong has won its past two games against Richmond and Collingwood, its scoring power has been greatly diminished. The Cats kicked just 80 points against the Tigers and 70 points in a scrap with the Magpies. They had their focal point back against Greater Western Sydney with Tom Hawkins returning from a two-week suspension. Hawkins' presence instantly straightened the Cats up and they had five goals on the board in the first quarter alone. Hawkins’ ability to compete in the air and provide a target to kick to down the line is crucial for the Cats in September, with the power forward finishing with two goals and 20 disposals. Geelong will be hoping he can steer clear of the Match Review Panel, because he is too valuable to be sitting on the sidelines.

3. Cats' small-forwards curse continues
Geelong has had issues with getting its small forwards out on the park this season and that trend could continue if James Parsons is looking at time on the sidelines with an ankle injury. Parsons hurt his left ankle early in the second term and, after undergoing a fitness test on the boundary, spent the last half on the bench. The Cats will get him assessed but if he misses the team's first final Geelong will be thin in the small forward position. Lincoln McCarthy and Cory Gregson are already on the long-term injury list and done for the season, while there are doubts Nakia Cockatoo will be ready to go early in the finals series after a run of hamstring injuries. The Cats rely on their small forwards to apply pressure to the opposition and if Parsons is not available it severely hurts the structure of their team.

4. Sore Greene stands up
Love him or loathe him, it was a gutsy effort from Greater Western Sydney forward Toby Greene to keep playing out the match against Geelong. Greene copped Brandan Parfitt's knee to the underside of his ribs in the first quarter and was in a lot of pain as he left the field. Greene was sucking in deep breaths and even had his ribs strapped up at quarter-time, as he battled through the pain. Cats opponent Tom Lonergan, who famously lost a kidney in a marking contest in 2006, checked on Greene to see if he was OK. Greene by no means starred, but to kick three goals while playing in a lot of discomfort was a good effort. Greene is likely to carry sore ribs through the finals series, so it will be interesting to see how much the injury affects him in September.

5. Lobb's goal line howler a symbol of Giants' tough night
Rory Lobb thought he had it covered, but then he didn't. The ball kicked from Jordan Murdoch just kept travelling, then veered sharply to the left and through the goals. The moment summed up the Giants' night as the score review confirmed the goal to put the Cats up by 40 points late in the third term. It was a disappointing night for the Giants who managed just 59 points and conceded 103 points to the Cats.