It had trouble to steer clear of a persistent Coburg on Saturday, eventually winning by 13-points.
In Adam Potter’s last match as coach of Coburg – due to Richmond deciding it wants a development coach to take ownership in the last year of its alignment next season – the Tigers dug deep to go out on a winning note, leading for almost three quarters.
The Cats gradually began to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the final term with goals to classy on-ballers Travis Varcoe and George Horlin-Smith. And then when ruckman Nathan Vardy snapped his second, the Cats were home for their ninth consecutive win of the season to remain in second spot behind Port Melbourne.
Cats VFL coach Matthew Knights said the club has gained plenty of confidence over the last two months and have been resting some players in the lead up to finals including that of Shane Kersten, Troy Selwood, Cam Eardley, Andrew McLean and Jackson Sheringham yesterday.
Knights forecast that there may well be seven or eight changes for its clash against the Seagulls in the final round of the season.
“We’re confident now that going into a finals series that we can play well and if we play the Geelong way, we’re going to be very competitive,” Knights said.
“Again today, we finished off the game strongly.”
He said the club has not looked at getting players qualified for finals and instead its main aim has been to develop players and get players match ready for AFL finals.
Travis Varcoe is one of those but will be handy for the last round of the home and away season against Williamstown this week.
Ruckman Nathan Vardy and Dawson Simpson are also likely to play one more match in the VFL but at least one of those are likely to play in week one of the finals.
David Wojcinski and Shannon Byrnes are other valuable experienced players which may well be a solid part of the Cats’ surge in the top four.
The Cats are in second spot behind Port Melbourne and a win against Williamstown on Saturday will have them in line for top spot if Port Melbourne loses to North Ballarat.
The race for the finals all comes down to one pulsating final round.
Bendigo do battle with Box Hill on Friday night in what is likely to decide the make-up of the bottom rungs of the top eight.
If Bendigo wins, it will end North Ballarat’s chances for finals but if it loses the Roosters will live at least another day until their fight against Port Melbourne.
The match between Collingwood and the Werribee Tigers is suddenly an interesting one. If Collingwood was to cause an upset and Williamstown was to upset Geelong, it will mean Werribee will lose fourth spot and instead play a knock-out final in week one of the finals.
Williamstown, meanwhile, is a rough chance for a top four spot after appearing likely to miss finals just a month ago.
Werribee’s loss to the Northern Blues by 24-points on Sunday was a surprise upset but the worrying sign for the Tigers is that they showed no resilience in the final term as the Blues, who had won just four games until Sunday, kicked seven unanswered goals.
Who was on Tyson Thomas? Thomas was allowed to run free in the dying stages to help set up some classic goals for the Blues.
Bendigo, like Essendon, has stopped. It won’t do any damage in the finals. It lost comprehensively by 53-points against the Borough. You get the feeling that it will only be making up the numbers even if it defeats Box Hill on Friday night.
It will be interesting to see how much fight Box Hill will show after its confidence and morale spluttered in its three-point loss to Port Melbourne. The loss hurt the club and tarnished any chance it had of sewing up a finals spot. Fortunately, results have fallen their way and they will play finals.
Sandringham has become a disappointment after showing such promise in the first half of the season.
The Zebras will struggle against each of the top four teams and their true test for finals will come a week early against Casey this week. A win may spark some much-needed momentum.
The 66-point loss to Williamstown was a nightmare for its coaching staff who spruiked this up to be a “finals-like” game pre-match.
Hero of the week: David Ellard (Northern Blues) – Brilliant in the midfield with 33 touches and three goals. Coach Darren Harris loves the way he plays so much that he said in his post-match press conference how much he would love to adopt him.
Villain of the week: Majak Daw (Werribee) – Was one of a number of Werribee players that could be put in this bracket but Daw and fellow ruckman Will Sullivan were comprehensively beaten in the ruck department when it mattered most in the final term on Sunday.
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