JOEL Selwood has never had more trust in his midfield comrades.

That's the view of Geelong coach Chris Scott, who, along with his skipper, has steered the Cats from a wobbly 2-2 start to 6-3 built off the back of one of the best performing engine rooms in the competition.

The Cats were upstaged in contested possessions (ranked 13th), clearance differential (10th) and leaked scores from stoppages (14th) in the opening month of the season when they suffered losses to Adelaide and Melbourne, and narrowly defeated Brisbane and Hawthorn. 

Now, they look a completely different side.

"I don't think I can remember a time where he's (Selwood) had the confidence in the big group of players around him to get the job done," Scott said this week.

00:26 Mins
Published on

Close nails a major after great Geelong linking play

Brad Close strolls in to an open goal as the Cats chain handballs from the clearance

Published on

Cam Guthrie has taken to his game to a new level off the back of a breakout 2020 All-Australian campaign, while Mitch Duncan and Brandan Parfitt have stood up in wins over North Melbourne, West Coast, Richmond and St Kilda. And Selwood's himself has enjoyed an impressive start, leading the club in contested disposals with 11.6 per game.

It's resulted in the Cats turning their contested possession differential around by more than 33 per game from the first month of the season to be the No.1 ranked team in the competition in that department. And they've tidied up their scoring from stoppages to now sit No.2 and are generating more than six extra clearances than their opposition (No.2).

Geelong Form Change

Rounds 1-4

Rounds 5-9

Avg.

Rank

Avg.

Rank

Points For

75.2

#13

99.0

#2

Points Against

83.0

#9

57.2

#1

Scores from Stoppages Diff.

-7.8

#14

+20.6

#2

Scores from Turnover Diff.

-3.0

#10

+21.2

#3

Contested Poss. Diff.

-5.0

#13

+28.8

#1

Clearance Diff.

+0.2

#10

+6.8

#2

Superstar Patrick Dangerfield played large chunks as a forward last season as the Cats ranked No.1 in the AFL for scores from stoppages differential and contested possession differential.

But even still, Scott hasn't been able to throw his magnet into the centre square to get an instant fix over the last month with the three-time best and fairest sidelined with an ankle syndesmosis injury.

"Obviously, (Patrick) Dangerfield hasn't been there, but it hasn't been 'we're under pressure, we need Selwood in there' as much as it may have been in the past," Scott said.

"Take Selwood out of that equation, we're really pleased with the way Guthrie, Parfitt and Duncan and the addition of (Shaun) Higgins and (Isaac) Smith have changed us a little bit for the better.

"We've had some guys come in like Quinton Narkle, who we're still very optimistic about as a player, I think he's had a real impact over the last couple of weeks.

Quinton Narkle celebrates a goal against St Kilda in round nine, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"I think the fact that I'm broadening the conversation to a big group of players speaks to how we think it operates best with a large group.

"I guess at times we've had some really exceptional performers in there and when you have that, the gap to the third, fourth, fifth player can look pretty big. I'm not sure that gap's looking that big at the moment."

The return to midfield dominance has helped the rest of the Cats' side flow. They're not moving the ball any quicker from the opening month, but the rise in marks inside 50 and their ability to score from entries has been stark.

Geelong Form Change

Rounds 1-4

Rounds 5-9

Avg.

Rank

Avg.

Rank

Inside 50 Diff.

-1.5

#12

+14.6

#1

Time in Fwd Half Diff.

-2:18

#10

+7:19

#1

Marks Inside 50

9.8

#13

14.0

#3

Score per Inside 50%

40.1%

#14

47.5%

#4

Score per Inside 50% Agst.

46.6%

#14

40.8%

#4

R50 to In50 % Agst.

29.9%

#15

22.1%

#8

And while they've tidied up their leaking from stoppages, their overall team defence has sharpened with scores conceded per inside 50 and the ability to shut down coast-to-coast plays noticeable in Champion Data's numbers.

A month ago, AFL.com.au queried if Jeremy Cameron would be Geelong's panacea.

His 13 goals from four games has been a welcome relief to a previously misfiring forward line. But his insertion should be seen as a key part of the Cats' rise, not the only one.