Can Brodie Grundy manhandle Rhys Stanley? Pic: AAP
Can Brodie Grundy manhandle Rhys Stanley? Pic: AAP

Pies’ fate may lie in Grundy’s hands

Geelong and Collingwood have plenty of finals history but few current Pies will remember those stoushes.

And there's one man who might just help the Pies exact some small revenge.

LISTEN BELOW: GREATS RECAP THE EPIC 1989 GRAND FINAL

 

Herald Sun expert Chris Cavanagh looks at the key issues for each club ahead of Friday night's blockbuster qualifying final at the MCG.

 

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Mitch Duncan and the Cats beat the Pies at the ‘G in the opening round. Pic: AFL Photos
Mitch Duncan and the Cats beat the Pies at the ‘G in the opening round. Pic: AFL Photos

 

GEELONG

1 CAN GEELONG WIN A FINAL?

Fair or unfair, the heat is on the Cats over their poor recent finals record. Geelong is 6-9 in finals under Chris Scott, but those numbers are boosted by three straight September wins and a premiership in his first year in charge in 2011. The Cats dropped out of the flag race with a 29-point elimination final loss to Melbourne last year. Scott says this year's outfit is more prepared for the pressure and hardness of finals football. But while Geelong finished atop of the ladder, the side has won just five of its past 10 games across a seesawing second half of the season. On a form ladder of the last 10 rounds, the Cats sit eighth.

 

2 WHAT ABOUT THE MCG FACTOR?

The last 23 games between these two sides have been played at the MCG, so it's not exactly a foreign scenario (the Cats lead 13-10). Geelong has won the past three, most recently by seven points in Round 1 this year. While the Cats boast a 9-1 record at GMHBA Stadium this year, they have gone a more than respectable 4-1 at the MCG. The ground should hold no fears.

 

3 CAN SELWOOD GET GOING?

Inspirational captain Joel Selwood is by far Geelong's most experienced finals campaigner on its list. Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartel has played the most finals of any Cat with 28 - a record Selwood will equal against the Magpies. Selwood's season - and in particular the past month - hasn't been up to his lofty standards. He is averaging his fewest disposals per game (20.8) since his debut season of 2007 and fewest clearances (4.0) since 2009. Against a more than capable Collingwood midfield, the Cats need their skipper near his best.

 

 

 

COLLINGWOOD

1 WILL GRUNDY GIVE PIES UPPER HAND?

Starting All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy has had another sensational year and looms as a pivotal player in this final. The Cats have struggled to settle on a No.1 ruckman, while the Magpies have had the best in the business play every game. But, interestingly, Grundy's worst game statistically this season was against Geelong in Round 1 when he came up against Rhys Stanley. Grundy had 34 hit-outs (seven to advantage), 18 disposals and seven clearances that day. Stanley had 23 hit-outs (five to advantage), 18 disposals and six clearances. If Stanley plays, and can perform like that again, the ruck advantage might not be as large as it seems on the surface.

 

2 CAN THE PIES GET FINALS REVENGE?

These two teams have recent finals history between them. The Magpies and Cats met in preliminary finals in 2007, 2009 and 2010 as well as the 2011 Grand Final. Collingwood lost three of those - with the exception being 2010. While Scott Pendlebury, Ben Reid and Steele Sidebottom are the only players left on the Pies' list from the 2011 Grand Final side, fans don't forget such history and would love nothing more than to get some small revenge on Geelong.

 

3 WHO WILL RETURN?

The big one the Magpies would love to get back is Jordan De Goey. The power forward has missed the past four games with a hamstring injury. He loves the big stage and was superb with 12 goals from four matches last September. De Goey kicked 2.2 against Geelong in Round 1, one of only two multiple goalkickers for the Pies. Fellow forward Jaidyn Stephenson looks set to return from his 10-match suspension and declared himself "ready" with 20 disposals and one goal in the VFL last weekend. Sidebottom should also return after missing the final round with a ruptured testicle. Defender Darcy Moore, who played in Round 23 but finished on the bench with a hamstring concern, has been declared a certain starter by coach Nathan Buckley.

 

Jamie Elliott is back in form, while Jordan De Goey will be back. Pic: Michael Klein.
Jamie Elliott is back in form, while Jordan De Goey will be back. Pic: Michael Klein.

 

CHRIS CAVANAGH SAYS:

The Cats have won their past three against the Magpies but are vulnerable after a shaky 5-5 second half of the season. The prospect of a Collingwood upset is very real.

EARLY CALL: Collingwood by 1 point.

 

 

News Corp Australia


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