Geelong v Adelaide

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When it comes to freshness after a week off in the AFL, Geelong are an unsuccessful outlier following their rest, and last week the curse once again reared its head as they slipped to their second defeat of the season against the Power. The heat is back on below the ladder leaders as they seek to once again consolidate a sizeable buffer against their conquerors’ rivals.

Adelaide, meanwhile, are ready to continue their top-four push after their bye and having comfortably seen off a depleted Richmond two weeks ago, sit in the approximate area most expected them to rise towards. Opportunity knocks, though, and taking the Cats’ scalp could see them viewed as more than just double-chance smokies…

Jesse Robertson previews a vital Friday night clash in Geelong as this week’s 2019 AFL men’s Round 14 Featured Game for Play On Radio:

Recent Fortunes

An eight-game winning streak was snapped in Adelaide last week but the two-game buffer saw Chris Scott’s side retain top spot with a handy percentage gap in spite of Collingwood’s win over the Bulldogs. The Cats suffered a trio of injuries with Jack Henry, Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus faced with concerns during the game, but only Rohan has been ruled out for Friday’s clash. Esava Ratugolea, however, suffered a setback at training and will be a forced omission.

Prior to their bye, Adelaide had hit a purple patch with three straight wins but their medical team had work to do during their 33-point victory at home to Richmond two weeks ago with Wayne Milera aggravating a lower back issue; he’s unlikely to be risked. Will Reilly O’Brien’s surprisingly hot run in the senior side be forgone in favour of a returning Sam Jacobs?

Key Statistic

Tim Kelly’s lofty standards were let down tremendously in last week’s loss, registering just 17 touches with only nine of those effective. One may stop short of labelling the shock Brownlow dark horse as a barometer at this early stage in his career, but as Chris Scott lamented the lack of influence generated in midfield, Kelly’s performance needs to lift the most of all.

 The Crouch brothers received praise for accumulating 35+ disposals each in the Richmond game but Rory Laird was well and truly a star performer in defence that evening. 30 of 32 touches effective, eight marks, four tackles, eight intercepts and eight rebound-50s made him a tremendous rebounder in the backline, and the former All-Australian requires considerable attention for his pressure.

Prediction

Under Friday night lights, the Cats should have enough quality about them to send Kardinia Park fans home with renewed assurance that the minor premiership is Geelong’s for the taking. They’ll have to earn it though, so the tip is by only two points in a quality contest.