Cats head into destination unknown

Geelong left Optus Stadium after Thursday night’s dominant win over Fremantle on top of the ladder but with no clarity on where they would play their round 19 clash with Richmond.

The Tigers’ round 18 clash with Brisbane had to be moved to Queensland after a Covid outbreak forced a snap lockdown in Victoria.

Cats coach Chris Scott threw his support behind the AFL’s handling of fixtures, and while his preference is for players to head back to their families in Victoria, he said they had to prepare for a chance that wouldn’t happen.

“We want our players to be with families as much as possible,” he said.

“But families have to understand that we are privileged to be able to continue doing our job.

“Sometimes with that comes sacrifice, but with that sacrifice, hopefully comes some dividends.

“Any criticism levelled at the AFL in the last 18 months is unwarranted, misplaced and opportunistic and cheap.

“But it doesn’t say it is not difficult.”

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Wherever the Cats head from Perth, they head there in ripping form, having won nine of their past 10 games.

They will wake up on Friday morning on top of the AFL ladder after a 69-point win over the Dockers.

The Cats did that without injured pair Jeremy Cameron and Gary Rohan, and Lachie Henderson, who was managed.

Scott said the performance was an important one, considering he felt they hadn’t been at their best over the previous month.

“We’re getting closer,” he said.

“We haven’t been as good as we could over the past month. We had an off night against Brisbane at the Gabba. Had a tight, lucky win against Bulldogs and played well against Port.

“Our plan is to get better as the year goes on.

“With some players to come back and some who have been managed, we have a lot of guys who haven‘t had the arduous workload of a full season.

“We can hit our stride and be in good form going into the finals.”

One of those players who missed a big chunk of the first half of the season, and who seems to be hitting his stride, is Patrick Dangerfield.

Dangerfield played his sixth game back from surgery on Thursday night and had a huge impact.

He kicked three goals, had 22 possessions and six clearances.

Scott used him in attack both because of the missing targets in that area and also for his abilities in the wet, slippery conditions. But he can prepare for a change of scenery in coming weeks.

“We want to get him back to what he can get to in the midfield,” Scott said.

“Surgery meant he had eight weeks away, so we have had to be more thoughtful of where we put him.

“We think he‘s on the right track.”

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