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No excuses as teams regain stars

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Jared Lynch

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Connolly and Carlton both looking crook

From the warmth of his man-cave, a flu-stricken Rohan Connollly lays down his tips for round 11.

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GEELONG has regained four senior players and Carlton three big names for tonight's Etihad Stadium clash, a match Cats football manager Neil Balme concedes is crunch time for the premier.

Dashing defender David Wojcinski will play his first senior match for the year, having served a three-week VFL suspension for a bump that shattered the jaw of young Casey Scorpion Jack Viney, and earlier overcoming an Achilles tendon injury.

Key forward Tom Hawkins also is back, having missed last week's 65-point downing of Greater Western Sydney after ''minor'' knee surgery. Joel Corey returns from a shoulder injury and Corey Enright seems to have shaken off a niggling foot injury.

Despite Geelong clinging inside the top eight, with six wins and four losses, Balme said the Cats were happy with the season so far.

''We are in a reasonable position but we have to put a few things together. Obviously this week is going to be an important one,'' he said.

Cats coach Chris Scott said Wojcinski, who will play his 200th game tonight, was welcome back after his career was stranded on 199 games at last season's end.

''He has got extreme speed, he's been showing that on the track. If we do select him, it will be with full confidence that he can perform near his best,'' Scott said.

Harry Taylor returns to the back line, having kicked six goals replacing Hawkins up forward last week. He will be matched with Carlton star ruck/forward Matthew Kreuzer who returns despite reports this week he was battling a fluid build-up in his left knee, which needed to be reconstructed after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament two years ago. Officially, hamstring tightness was why the Blues withdrew Kreuzer from last week's 54-point Port Adelaide loss.

Tonight's match is crucial for Carlton, which has only a win over Melbourne to show from the past four rounds.

The Blues, who started the season strongly, are in danger of slipping out of the eight if they can't turn around, but are boosted by the return of Kreuzer and defenders Lachie Henderson and Nick Duigan.

Carlton midfield assistant coach Mark Riley said too much had been made of opposition sides putting extra numbers around midfield stoppages to restrict the Blues' clearance and more basic issues needed fixing.

''We've got to roll our sleeves up and get a bit dirty and a bit grubbier around the hard ball and the defensive pursuits of the game,'' Riley said.

''There's been a number of theories regarding set-ups, structures etc. We feel like we've addressed that and now it's a matter of putting your head in the hole and winning a few [contests].

''The pattern in our midfield is no matter who's in or who's out we haven't met our standards over the past five or six weeks as a collective.

''The strength of the wolf is the pack.''

While Geelong has also been uncharacteristically poor in winning clearances and contested possessions this season, Riley said the Cats' overall class helped them get away with it.

With AAP

11 comments

  • Has anyone else noticed that the Cats struggles have coincided with the umpires cracking down on the 'Selwood shrug' and the 'Stevie J stage'?

    Commenter
    David Hill
    Location
    Surrey Hills
    Date and time
    June 08, 2012, 9:04AM
    • thats funny, but seriously, it is more about the generational transition that is going on at Geelong at the moment.

      Commenter
      Jonesy
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 9:51AM
    • You cant "crack down" on the shrug, its not an illegal move. What they've done is pay less free kicks which is irrelevant because he usually breaks the tackle anyway

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 10:02AM
    • Of course, they have always lived off free kicks, that is why they tend to struggle against teams that do just as well from the umps. All those close games they "won", have a look, almost every one was really decided by the umps. Funny watching the handbag players yell and scream at the umps non stop now their not getting every single 50/50 decision, what about scott in the coaches box, even funnier!

      Now it seems the umps have jumped ship to the smeagles, the most bias sporting ground in the world but, they still seemed to do quite well up in Brisbane last weekend.

      But what are we talking about, the umps are NEVER EVER WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Commenter
      Rossco
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 10:03AM
    • I picked that Geelong would only win 2 games this year and that both of them would be against Hawthorn. They have already far exceeded my expectations with 6 wins.

      Commenter
      Ben
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 11:06AM
    • It still hurts doesn't it Ben.

      Commenter
      David Hill
      Location
      Surrey Hills
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 11:27AM
    • @Ben we played unsociable you guys play unconscionable. Which has more integrity?

      Commenter
      Nathan
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 12:12PM
  • Shame the umpies haven't picked up the Matthew Lloyd Diving Academy at Essendon.

    Commenter
    Jenz
    Date and time
    June 08, 2012, 9:45AM
    • Yeah mate, 926 dives, you'd think the ump's would have picked him up on at least one of em. All got their tricks, put up any full forward here & I'll tell you their favourite 'party trick'. However I suspect you'd have the blinkers on & not be interested in your man's trickery. Go on, put him up & lets see if everyone agrees with you.

      Commenter
      bomber
      Location
      Ballarat
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 10:14AM
  • Any of you people notice that Geelong has lost Ottens and Ling? It seems to have made a huge difference not only to clearances but also to the confidence which has been such a hallmark of Geelong's play in the past six years. The team is still finding its feet again.

    I must say that the inanity of some of the above comments makes me worry. If this is the quality of Age readers, what must the Herald-Sun comments be like??? Makes me shudder!

    Commenter
    Cathy
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    June 08, 2012, 11:52AM

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    Comments are now closed

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