Kennett curse’ could end today, Paul Roos says


Sam Mitchell

Sam Mitchell will play a pivotal role as Hawthorn tries to beat Geelong, Paul Roos says. Picture: Michael Klein Source: Herald Sun

MUCH of the talk around today’s Geelong-Hawthorn clash has centred on the famous words of Jeff Kennett and the Kennett curse.

For whatever reason, the Cats have always been able to beat the Hawks and while it adds a certain amount of intrigue tonight, the game will be won on the MCG and will have very little to do with any past words from a past President.

Geelong bounced back – as you would have expected – last week after they capitulated against the Lions.

The most incredible statistic from last week’s game versus the Dockers was that they had 62 more contested possessions than their opponents.This differential is the biggest ever recorded in any game.

It clearly showed the Cats were filthy and you can bet they will take that mindset into the game tonight.

We know Geelong has a proud history of leaders in recent times and they simply refuse to drop their standards and the standards of the football club.

One of the most intriguing battles will be in the midfield tonight as the Cats have scored from 315 of their clearances this season, the second highest percentage of any side.

The Hawks, however, are number one.

The Cats’ young ruckmen in Blicavs and Simpson will need to be at their best to take on Bailey and Hale at the stoppages.

If one of the ruck pairs can get dominance in tonight’s game, we know both midfields are full of class.

Mitchell is the driver for the Hawks and Selwood for the Cats.

Both coaches will be putting work into these two players, particularly at stopping them getting first possession at clearances.

Sean Burgoyne and Luke Hodge provide headaches as they are two players that can play in different positions on the ground.

Both are creative off halfback, dangerous clearance players and can go forward and kick goals.

They will need to be watched closely.

For the Cats it is Stokes, Christenson and Motlop that have really improved this year.

They all have an ability to find the football and use it effectively. The three have become matchwinners for the Cats.

The move of Roughhead to the forward line has been the most significant for the Hawks this year.

Opposition coaches now have to contend with two genuine star forwards and must set their defence accordingly.

The Hawks have taken the most inside 50 marks of any team this season.

The Cats also are extremely good in this area of the ground, having averaged 15 marks per week to be second behind the Hawks.

While Hawkins and Podsiadly haven’t reached the heights of their Hawks counterparts, they are competitors and they are predictable to their teammates for the full length of the game.

Defensively, both teams will want to support their key defenders on the star forwards.

This is where the matchups will get intriguing. In an ideal world, Clarko would love to have Gibson floating and constantly coming third man up against Hawkins and the J. Pod.

Gibson’s defensive instincts are exceptional, he knows when to spoil, knows when to mark and can also set up offensive moves for his team.

Harry Taylor is similar for the Cats and his coach will be expecting much of the same.

Last week Harry Taylor took seven marks from opposition kicks and is the best in the competition at doing so.

The key will be for both teams to keep the defence’s honest and in one on one matchups.

If this can happen, we will see plenty of marks inside the forward 50 by the power forwards.

We know the stars will be on show on Saturday night and I’m sure they will perform at their best on the big stage of the MCG.

But it may be a lesser light that takes his opportunity and determines the outcome of the game.

I often feel in big games that the stars cancel each other out and the bottom five or six will determine the outcome.

Will we be talking about the Kennett curse after the game?

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