Otago Daily Times

Cats, Tigers sharpen claws for con­test

AUS­TRALIAN RULES

- Sports · College Sports · Rugby · Melbourne · Geelong · Arena Football League · Joel Selwood · Gary Ablett

MEL­BOURNE: Gee­long coach Chris Scott al­ways had a sus­pi­cion his team would need to beat Rich­mond some­where along the way if it was to win this year’s AFL premier­ship.

After so many near misses in re­cent sea­sons, the Cats will play their first grand fi­nal in nine years at the Gabba to­day.

Stand­ing in their way is the dom­i­nant force of re­cent sea­sons, a Tigers team chas­ing a third flag in the past four years.

Scott said it was clear to most any suc­cess would in­volve stop­ping the Tigers at some point.

Ear­lier in 2020, Scott har­boured a be­lief the Tigers had the air of a team that may have started a slide from their pin­na­cle.

That feel­ing was dis­pelled when Rich­mond claimed a 26­point win over the Cats in round 17 at Met­ri­con Sta­dium, a re­sult which means Gee­long has won just one of its past six matches against the Tigers.

Both teams were miss­ing key play­ers for that game in early Septem­ber.

The Cats were with­out skip­per Joel Sel­wood, su­per­star Gary Ablett and hard­run­ning for­ward Gary Ro­han while the Tigers were miss­ing premier­ship play­ers Shane Ed­wards, David Astbury and Dion Pres­tia and lost ruck­man Ivan Soldo early to a sea­son­end­ing knee in­jury.

All bar Soldo will fea­ture in to­mor­row’s grand fi­nal, giv­ing both teams a much dif­fer­ent look than the last time they met but Scott said there was still plenty his team could learn from that en­counter.

‘‘We al­ways look at the last game. I think ev­ery team does. You’d be crazy not to,’’ Scott said. ‘‘There’s dif­fer­ent per­son­nel. They’ve got a few re­ally good play­ers that didn’t play and so have we.

‘‘They played re­ally well in that game, and we didn’t play as well as we would have liked to.

‘‘We would like to think that the game would be played dif­fer­ently. Look, if it is played the same way, the ad­van­tage is cer­tainly with them.’’ — AAP

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