Where to for Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins?
Dangerfield may have more help in the midfield these days but the Cats would clearly like a clone of him. Scott spoke earlier in the season of the ongoing debate over where the Brownlow medallist was best suited. Dangerfield almost willed the Cats back into the contest in the third term against the Power with a brilliant breakaway goal. He also spent time up forward but there was public debate later as to whether he should have been used more on the ball. Intriguingly, he was arguably best afield in the past two matches between the Cats and Pies when used on the ball for all bar a few minutes – yet the Cats lost on each occasion. Will Scott change this? What the Cats do need is for Hawkins to take a stand. He was brilliant through the home-and-away campaign but went 0.5 last week. The Cats will hope history repeats for Hawkins went 0.4 in last year’s qualifying final against the Magpies, only to rebound with four goals the following week.
Can the Magpies maintain the rage?
The Pies had a win for the ages in Perth. Having had a flight across the country, a week of quarantine and faced with a largely hostile crowd, the Pies produced their finest performance of the year – and one of the great finals wins of all time. This was built on quick ball movement, giving forwards Mason Cox, Jordan De Goey, Jamie Elliott, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Brody Mihocek more one-on-one contests – and the results were forthcoming. Where the Magpies had ranked 13th for scoring through the home-and-away campaign, this time they produced their third-highest score of the season. The Magpies will look to maintain this momentum.
Will the Pies have the ruck advantage?
Brodie Grundy was best afield when these teams last met in round seven, when he had 17 touches, six inside 50s, three clearances and 46 hit-outs, largely against Darcy Fort. He may not have been at his best at centre bounces against Nic Naitanui last weekend but Grundy still had an influence around the ground. Now pitted against Rhys Stanley, he should be able to dominate in all areas. Stanley is athletic but lacks Grundy’s physicality. Darcy Cameron was a revelation as Grundy’s sidekick against the Eagles, to the point he was given frontline duties to start the third term. It could be a long night for the Cats’ big man.
The Magpies boast a miserly defence, conceding the third-fewest points for the season. They also have momentum but was last week’s win their “grand final”? The Cats claimed the double chance for a reason and will not want this to be Gary Ablett’s final match before retirement. Ablett, goalless and with only 10 touches against the Power, will also want to lift.
Prediction: Geelong by five points.