Geelong report card: Are the Cats coming or going?
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Geelong report card: Are the Cats coming or going?

Grade: B

Record: 13-9, 8th, lost elimination final

What went right?: Plenty, actually. The Cats finished with the second-highest percentage in the AFL. Tim Kelly was a revelation in his first season, with the mature-age recruit’s performance fuelling discussion about whether lower clubs should get priority access to the best state league players. Tom Stewart went from strength to strength in his second season, earning All-Australian honours, while Mark Blicavs found a home in defence, and youngster Jack Henry also enjoyed a strong year. Tom Hawkins returned to his best, while Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett, while not quite at their best, were all strong performers. Despite a slow start to the season Rhys Stanley also found some form in the ruck.

Tim Kelly has been a revelation.

Tim Kelly has been a revelation.Credit:AAP

What went wrong?: The Cats won a couple of memorable thrillers against Melbourne, but their record in close games was generally poor. Geelong lost eight games by three goals or less. Had they won even two of those matches, the Cats could have made the top four and things could have been very different. As it was, they only just scraped into the eight and were well beaten by a fiercer Melbourne side. Injuries also played a part, with Geelong’s backline tested in the first half of the year because of injuries to Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson. Nakia Cockatoo, a man the Cats have hoped would emerge as a game-breaker, also couldn’t get a good run with his body, playing just two games.

Likely best and fairest: This is a bit of a tough one. Dangerfield, Selwood, Stewart and Hawkins all have strong claims to winning the Carji Greeves Medal, while Kelly and Blicavs should also feature prominently.

One thing they need: The ruck spot continues to be an issue, with Geelong in need of someone to make the position their own. A lack of second tall forward has also been a problem, while a lack of pace is also a concern. Luke Dahlhaus should make the Cats stronger, but it’s hard to know whether Geelong are coming or going, especially given Selwood, Hawkins, Ablett and Taylor are all closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Keeping Kelly - who could yet request a trade back to Western Australia - should also be the aim.