Geelong coach Chris Scott is supremely confident of beating AFL heavyweights Collingwood next weekend despite the Cats struggling to put away Gold Coast on Sunday.
The Cats – who spent the week at the beach, playing golf and having fun at a waterpark on the tourist strip – defeated the Suns 15.20 (110) to 13.18 (96).
But Geelong are likely to be without their Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel after the star midfielder elbowed Suns youngster Trent McKenzie in the face during the second quarter.
The AFL Tribunal is sure to scrutinise the off-the-ball incident although Scott refused to comment on it.
The Suns were 68-61 ahead deep into the third quarter before the Cats – led by Paul Chapman, Tom Hawkins (both four goals) and skipper Joel Selwood (32 disposals) – snapped out of holiday mode to post a dogged victory.
Scott didn’t hesitate when asked if the Cats, based on Sunday’s performance, could beat the Magpies at the MCG on Saturday.
“I’m supremely confident we can win next week, supremely confident,” Scott told reporters.
The Cats – who were missing stars Harry Taylor, Steve Johnson and James Podsiadly – were lethargic in the first half as the energetic Suns applied plenty of heat to the defending premiers in front of 15,824 fans.
But the home side wilted in the late stages of the third quarter and early in the final quarter to suffer their 21st consecutive defeat and 14th this season.
“To kick the last three goals to finish 14 points down against a Geelong side like that, I thought it was a tick in the box,” coach Guy McKenna said.
“But unfortunately, the third quarter was our bogey quarter again.”
For the Suns, Harley Bennell (22 disposals, two goals) and Josh Caddy (three goals) impressed while captain Gary Ablett (27 disposals, two goals) again showed a ton of fight, although his radar scrambled a couple of times in front of goal at crucial stages.
The Cats looked lethargic and wasted their opportunities in the first half and the Suns led by three points at halftime.
“Our brand of footy for the most part was reasonably good but we executed poorly with our skills in the first half,” Scott said.
“We’re still below the standard that we expect.”
The Suns were boosted by the return of Michael Rischitelli (hamstring), Campbell Brown (knee) and Jarrod Harbrow (elbow, illness) while the club’s new director of coaching, dual premiership-winning mentor Malcolm Blight, was on hand to help out McKenna.
Coming off a 126-point hiding to West Coast, Gold Coast had nudged ahead by 18 points in the second quarter until Chapman, in his return from a groin injury, booted three straight majors to have the Cats purring again.