Tue, Jun 28, 10:45am by Staff Writer
Geelong coach Chris Scott wouldn’t be the only person reaching for his hair to check if it was still there.
Punters would also be frustrated after Geelong’s shock loss against St Kilda on Saturday night.
Just when we thought we had established the pecking order and a premiership favourite had emerged, the Cats suffered another defeat against a lower-ranked opponent.
Sound familiar? Only a few weeks ago, Geelong dropped consecutive matches against Collingwood and Carlton.
Most wrote it off as an aberration, given the side’s form against its flag rivals.
But St Kilda showed the star-studded Cats can be vulnerable. Whether it’s arrogance or they just had a bad night, time will tell, but the Cats have now lost three games against teams in the bottom ten, while the rest of the top eight have lost just two combined.
But, as Scott said in the post-game media conference, you’d rather have a proven run of form against the top teams.
He is spot on, but where does that leave punters?
After 14 rounds, it is difficult to select who will play off in this year’s decider, let alone pick the premier – and the markets suggest just that.
The Cats are $2.50, but are closely followed by three-time reigning premier Hawthorn, Greater Western Sydney and Sydney.
That trio is priced at $2.75 to qualify for the final game of the year with Sportsbet, Centrebet and William Hill, underlining the wide open flag race.
Geelong now sit in third spot with one bye round remaining. However, they have a soft run home.
History tells us that securing a top-two berth and the coveted home final in the opening week is an important factor in making the Grand Final.
What of the Hawks? Only a few weeks ago, several seasoned scribes had ruled a line through this great team.
Fast forward to now, and they are sitting pretty on top of the table nursing an 11-3 win-loss record. In truth, Hawthorn have not got out of second gear.
Yes, they have had some close shaves, but the four points is all that counts.
The Hawks know how to win tight games and, more importantly, they know how to win finals.
It is worth noting they travelled to Perth twice during last year’s finals and played in each week on their way to premiership glory. It is difficult to think of a tougher road – and they conquered it in style.
While we all acknowledge easy games are rare in 2016, fourth-placed Greater Western Sydney, like Geelong, look to have a softer run than their opponents and are set to face just two top-eight sides for the remainder of the home-and-away campaign. It would not be a stretch to say Leon Cameron’s Giants could be minor premiers.
For three reasons, the Swans should not be underestimated despite their recent heavy defeat to the Giants.
They have finals experience and a crack midfield. They also boast a matchwinner in Lance Franklin, who was absent from last year’s finals.
Last year’s runner-up West Coast is priced at $6, while North Melbourne, which was once the ladder leader and touted as a flag contender, has blown out to $7 after a string of losses against some of the competition’s better sides.
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