Clearances crucial for Cats ahead of Swans clash

GEELONG coach Chris Scott says his team must improve its clearance work to have any chance of defeating the Sydney Swans at the SCG on Friday night.

The Cats have been well beaten at stoppages in their opening three matches.
They lost the clearance count by 13 in round one against Hawthorn, by 15 in round two against North Melbourne and by nine last weekend against Carlton.  However, they won all three matches.

“(The Swans) are pretty strong around the contest,” Scott said on Wednesday. “I think their game plan has become a little bit more sophisticated over the last 18 months, but their strength is still in the contest. They prioritise defence, they play a pretty hard man-on-man style of game, and they value accountability outside the contest. In some ways we think we play a pretty similar style of footy. Unfortunately, in the early rounds of the year we haven’t been as good inside the contest and inside the stoppages, so we’re going to need to improve to at least match them.”

Like Geelong, the Swans are unbeaten, and John Longmire’s side demonstrated its power by kicking 11 goals in the third quarter of its victory over North Melbourne in Hobart on Saturday.

“It’s hard to determine, at this stage of the year, who the best side in the competition is,” Scott said. “But we certainly regard Sydney as one of those teams. They were exceptional for parts of the game last week, and I think they’re probably starting to hit some of their best form now that we’ve played three games of footy. So it’s going to be a real challenge for us.”

The Cats were six goals down at quarter-time the last time they played the Swans at the SCG.

They fought back bravely, hitting the front in the final quarter, before Andrejs Everitt won the game for the Sydneysiders with a late goal.

“I know it was a long time ago – 12 months ago – but we have had a little bit of a pattern of lapsing in periods of games, so we’ve got to make sure that we play consistently this week,” Scott said. “But as I’ve said a few times, we’re pretty confident that if we do have lapses we can come back pretty hard. It’s not the preference, but it is possible.”

Taylor Hunt is likely to get a tagging job on one of the Swans’ star midfielders, and there are plenty to pick from.