Dangerfield to narrow focus as Ratugolea replaces Dahlhaus for cut-throat final

Geelong coach Chris Scott says if star Cats midfielder Patrick Dangerfield is trying too hard, as AFL legend Leigh Matthews suggested, then the 30-year-old should just concentrate on doing what makes him a champion.

The Brownlow medallist admitted he lacked composure at times in the loss to Port Adelaide, however he refused to use his fractured finger as an excuse for his below-par performance.

Patrick Dangerfield will continue to play through injury for the Cats.Credit:Getty Images

When asked about Dangerfield on Thursday, Scott said his confidence in the midfielder never wavers but in general terms his advice would be “to just narrow his focus on what he does well and think less about the outcome and the time of year”.

Geelong will be looking to break a run of three consecutive losses against Greater Western Sydney when they play the Giants for a spot in a preliminary final at Optus Stadium on Friday night.

They have not beaten the Giants since 2018, with their most recent encounter being in round 21 when an undermanned Giants upset the Cats at GMHBA Stadium. After a fast start, the Giants survived several Cats challenges to win by 19 points.

It began a poor patch of form at Geelong, with their qualifying final loss to Port Adelaide their third loss in four matches.

However, the coach said they drew confidence from their ability to regain form when under pressure.

“We have been able to bounce back from poor performances and not let them bleed into multiple bad weeks,” Scott said.

The Cats opted to include young tall Esava Ratugolea, veteran utility Zach Tuohy, and first year player Max Holmes to replace the injured Mark O’Connor, while Luke Dahlhaus and Sam Simpson were dropped.

The 23-year-old Ratugolea has not played since he suffered a corkie against St Kilda in round 22, but Scott said the ruck-forward was now well-placed to perform well against the Giants.

“He was a bit sore a couple of weeks ago and has come through that in training really well, so we are more positive that he is in a good position,” Scott said.

Ratugolea was impressive in the Cats’ 2019 semi-final win over West Coast with three goals, playing all three finals that season, however he was left out of Geelong’s team in last year’s finals series as they won their way into the grand final.

The Cats’ forward pressure was down with Dahlhaus out of form. Holmes will give the Cats run.

Scott said former Giant Jeremy Cameron was not likely to be overawed at the prospect of playing against his former club, with the stakes high enough to make that storyline almost irrelevant.

“It’s good theatre when playing against your old team, but it really does pale into insignificance when compared to the opportunity for our team,” Scott said.

The Cats’ coach said the Giants showed as recently as round 22 they could still be dangerous inside 50 without Toby Greene after Tim Taranto kicked four goals playing forward.

The Giants opted for youth and speed including speedy forward Ian Hill alongside first year players Tanner Bruhn and Conor Stone. Greene has been suspended with Tom Green and Sam Reid both out injured.

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