Geelong Cats vs. Brisbane Lions: AFL coach Chris Scott’s honest admission, coach Chris Fagan, Lachie Neale
After Brisbane well and truly accounted for his Cats on Thursday night, coach Chris Scott has made an honest admission to the press.
Geelong senior coach Chris Scott said “it’s a long time since we’ve been beaten that badly” after Brisbane put the Cats to the sword with a comprehensive 44-point victory at the Gabba on Thursday.
But Scott is confident that Geelong can bounce back quickly for the match up with Essendon next weekend with his well-beaten senior players to lead the charge to redemption.
The Lions snapped Geelong’s six-game winning streak emphatically, increasing their lead at every change with the Cats forward trio of Tom Hawkins, Jeremy Cameron and Gary Rohan kicking one goal between them and skipper Joel Selwood having just 13 touches.
Scott said there was no sugar coating the heavy defeat but there was also no need to panic.
“You never come away thinking, ‘Oh, well, that’s fine’. We can’t completely gloss over it but there’s a big body of evidence that we’ve put together now,’’ he said.
“We have a big group of players for one reason or another that just weren’t quite at their best tonight and probably haven’t been for the last week or so but we’ve got to get them back into the team.
“Dangerfield’s an obvious one there. We think we’ve got a big group of players that have missed footy that will get better as the year goes on. We’ve got a lot more optimism in our thoughts than pessimism right at the moment, even though it stings a bit, but you get beaten by a good opposition sometimes.”
He said the preparation for the clash with the Bombers will be driven by the players who had their colours lowered by the “outstanding” Lions who set up the win in a dominant first term.
“I occasionally look forward to teams we’re going to play and the first thing I think, because I’m a pessimist with these things a long way out, is there’s a lot that could go wrong with that game and if they do this and that we’re going to be in trouble. Essendon are clearly in that category as well,’’ Scott said.
“I’ve been really fortunate as a coach to have a group of players that work in collaboration with our coaches, and we do it together. If we go through a patch where we’re not going so well we’ll all own it, and we’ll work through it together.
“I kind of see some of those guys as my peers, almost. I’ve always been clear that I work for them, it’s not the other way around … but for the most part I think we’ll do it together.”
Scott said the Cats needed to get back to their best footy quickly with the race for the top four heating up.
“I think there are a couple of other teams below those teams who, if they get some momentum, will be hard to stop too. The top of the ladder is really tight and it’s a mistake to look too far forward,’’ he said.
“I want to be careful that I don’t say something that doesn’t diminish Brisbane’s performance because it was outstanding, but I suspect if we do some of the things we did tonight against anyone we’ll be in trouble.
“Maybe good enough to get over the line against a lesser team than Brisbane but we’ll be in trouble. That’s the part we’ve got to rectify that. Again, I’m not in the business of castigating players who have been really good for you for a long period of time, on the basis of one performance.
“In the context of the season for us, at first blush the take away for me is that we’ve got a bit to work on, we shouldn’t gloss over it but we also shouldn’t drop our bundle. We are in a pretty good position, have played much, much better than that and confident we’ll play much better than that for the rest of the season.
“Everyone has their off nights, we just seemed to have a whole lot of our important players have off nights together.”
Lach and load
Brisbane senior coach Chris Fagan says reigning Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale is a chance to take on Adelaide next weekend despite suffering a shoulder injury in Brisbane’s 44-point statement victory over Geelong at the Gabba on Thursday night.
Brisbane underlined its 2021 flag credentials in the convincing victory that appeared to come at high price when Neale was tackled heavily into the turf by Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron in the first quarter.
He eventually got to his feet but was clutching his right shoulder and was rushed from the field by Brisbane medical. He quickly returned to the game but was still in obvious discomfort.
His champion qualities shined through as he played out the game and finished with 24 disposals, eight contested possessions, six tackles, two clearances, seven inside 50s and three scoring assists.
“Yeah, I think he just got a bit of a jar really and he was able to come out without any strapping or anything like that,’’ Fagan said.
“It’ll probably be a bit sore tomorrow I imagine, but we’ve got a few days to get ready for Adelaide, so he should be fine as far as I know.”
Joe Daniher (four goals) and Charlie Cameron (three goals) were lethal up forward, defenders Harris Andrews, Marcus Adams, Brandon Starcevich and Daniel Rich were outstanding, and the Lions midfield led by Dayne Zorko, Jarryd Lyons and Neale were everywhere and applied great pressure all night.
Fagan said the win would give Brisbane valuable confidence should they meet the Cats in the finals
“I think it was important for us to try and start to win against those other top four sides. We haven’t been able to do that at all this season yet, so it’s always better as you’re going into the latter end of the year to record those sorts of victories if you can, so yeah, pleasing,’’ he said.
“There’s a long way to go in the season, there’s a lot of work to do, so we’ll just keep our feet firmly on the ground and plan each week and respect each opposition we play against.
“I feel like every week is a challenge and teams and the game keep evolving so I don’t think you can ever sit back.’’
Veteran Grant Birchall was a late out with illness and the performance of the backline would give match committee headaches for the clash with the Crows.
He praised the performance of second-year player Dev Robertson who played on Cats captain Joel Selwood for most of the game and held him to 13 touches.
“He’s a good young player, he’s got a big heart and he never stops trying. That’s why his teammates love him. He’s a good tackler, plays his role to perfection. He’s growing every week,’’ Fagan said.
Fagan said Rich – who had a team-high 25 disposals – was having one of his best campaigns.
“He’s having a great season, Daniel. Very, very consistent. Not just doing well with his ability to use the ball, his competitive stuff, his halving of contests, his organisation of his fellow defenders has been outstanding all year,’’ he said.
“He’s growing as a leader, I think he’s over 30 now, but he’s really starting to blossom in that area.’’