In a nutshell

After brutal sessions over summer to improve pressure, the Cats looked untouchable at times in the first half of the season before holding on to finish first. But in a far too familiar tale, the lowest score of the season came in September for the fourth consecutive year – a seven-goal performance in the qualifying final loss to Collingwood.

What we said in the pre-season

Geelong exceeded all expectations in the crystal ball – with the highest predicted finish sixth and seven of 15 reporters predicting the Cats to miss September. Lachie Henderson fell out of the anticipated best 22, while Joel Selwood surprised by moving to a wing for much of the year. 

What worked 

Gary Ablett as a permanent forward
Kicked 26 goals in the first 13 matches to be as damaging as any small forward. Was still serviceable in the second half of the year but had a quiet September as he managed ongoing hamstring tightness that required a scan during finals.

Identifying pressure forwards
VFL captain Tom Atkins was drafted as a small forward and Gryan Miers made the jump from obscurity to be one of only four Cats to play all 25 games. Recruits Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan, when fit, also brought the heat in the front half. 

The defence
Again the most stringent team in the competition, conceding 6.3 points less than any other on average. Jack Henry and Mark O'Connor continued to grow, Tom Stewart was an All Australian again, with Mark Blicavs in the squad, and Jake Kolodjashnij was likened to Peter Knights by his coach in the finals. 

YOUR CLUB'S BROWNLOW NIGHT Leader, top five, total votes

What failed

Search for a No.1 ruckman
Rhys Stanley looked a lock for the mantle until round 18 before the Cats turned to Zac Smith and Mark Blicavs. Come September the Cats were chasing Todd Goldstein and made a late change for the qualifying final – dropping Stanley and moving Blicavs to the ruck.

Hunt the next key forward behind Tom Hawkins and Esava Ratugolea 
With Hawkins suspended in the preliminary final, the Cats went back to the well with Lachie Henderson, who had played all year as a defender. Wylie Buzza and Darcy Fort were overlooked.

Bid for a home final 
And it doesn't look like ending anytime soon. The Cats took a different approach this year by being vocal right up until September … but will head office take note for 2020?

Overall rating

B+. Embarrassed in an elimination final one season, to making the penultimate weekend the next, it's a season that can't be scoffed at. But, the premiership wait for a list that's ready extends to an eighth season.

The coach

The best winning record of any 200-game coach in the history of the game, Scott was at his defiant best in finals and refused to explain the rationale behind specific selection calls. Has three years to run on his contract. 


Patrick Dangerfield: Typified by his final term in the semi-final when he put his teammates on his shoulders. Finished second in the Brownlow Medal, but why wasn't he one of three Cats nominated for the AFLPA MVP by teammates?

Surprise packet

Mark O'Connor: Carried on with his form from last year's elimination final to be one of the most improved players as a first-choice defender. Looked assured down back and started to add offensive elements to his game. 

Get excited

Jordan Clark: His 15 running bounces had him second only to Tim Kelly at the club in his debut year. Once he recovers from elbow surgery and gets to attack his first full pre-season he will have the competition talking. 


Scott Selwood: Entering as a 29-year-old pending free agent, more soft tissue injuries in pre-season delayed what should've been a big year. Was able to break through for two games late in the year but spent most of his time in the VFL. 

Best win

Semi-final: Geelong 13.10 (88) d. West Coast 10.8 (68)
Staring down a straight-sets exit, the Cats were on the ropes in the third term as the Eagles stole the lead with all the momentum. Tom Hawkins and Patrick Dangerfield then lifted the Cats to victory with monster final quarters. 

Best individual performance 

Tim Kelly. Round 8 v North Melbourne
Glided around Marvel Stadium doing as he pleased, kicking two goals from 36 touches in game No.31 that looked more like his 200th. Had a career-high 21 contested possessions to celebrate Mother's Day 

Low point

When Tom Hawkins whacked Will Schofield behind play in the semi-final against West Coast, sending him to the stands for the preliminary final against Richmond.

The big questions 

How many games will the Cats play at GMHBA Stadium in 2020? 

Can the B-Graders become A-Graders?

Where will Mark Blicavs play in round one, 2020?

Season in a movie title

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – Three preliminary final losses in four years.

Who's done?

Retirements: Nil, however Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor face calls in the next fortnight.

Delistings: Jordan Cunico and Jamaine Jones with more to be confirmed leading into Trade Period.

Unsigned free agents: Scott Selwood and Harry Taylor (both unrestricted)

WHO'S HANGING UP THE BOOTS? Your club's retirements and delistings

How should they approach trade and draft period? 

Use the draft picks acquired for Tim Kelly to find the next Jordan Clark – a youngster with speed and excitement.

Early call for 2020

Nothing short of a flag will do after Chris Scott said he was "confident" the Cats will be better again next year. Joel Selwood (32 in May), Hawkins (32 in July) and Dangerfield (30 in April) are all another season older.

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