By Tom Sermani @tom_sermani
Geelong: $1.68 -6.5.
North Melbourne: $2.35 +8.5
Points Total Line: 175.5
Geelong: Won four of last five and nine of last 10.
North Melbourne: Won all of last five and seven of last 10.
Geelong: The main worry for the Cats is regarding the fitness of Steve Johnson. He was ineffective last week after returning from several weeks off with a foot injury and it will be no surprise if he’s omitted this week again.
North Melbourne: Defender Lachie Hansen is unlikely to be fit for this match.
The importance of Tom Hawkins to this Geelong side cannot be underestimated. He is the forward they look to more than any other and the Cats rely on his presence probably more than any other team and key forward in the competition. Hawkins scored four goals in the round 12 match with North and three times in round 19.
Geelong’s skipper Joel Selwood had 31 disposals and a game high three goals in the qualifying final loss to Hawthorn and his battle in the midfield with the likes of Andrew Swallow and Jack Ziebell will be key to the Cats coming out on top here. His high intensity 100% commitment style of football is perfectly suited to playing in finals matches.
Drew Petrie stepped up to the plate when it was most needed in their win against the Bombers in the first week of the finals with two rapid fire goals in the final quarter and with three goals versus the Cats in round 10 he should be confident going into the match on Friday.
Ben Brown is not only a contender for the hotly contested worst haircut in the AFL award but is also a key player in this match after his four goal performance at the weekend against the Bombers. This will be just the 10th start of his career but he’s already shown a liking for the big occasion, not only last week but also when he scored two goals against the Hawks in round 16.
Last 10 meetings between the teams:
Geelong have won eight of the last ten, including the last two in 2014.
The two sides last met in round 19 when the Cats convincingly beat North by 32 points at Etihad Stadium. The scores were 19-18 to North after the opening quarter but the Cats kicked 6 goals 2 in the second quarter to lead by 28 at half time.
I like the Cats here. They have more finals experience, a better coach, more experience at the MCG and two wins already over the Kangaroos in 2014.