Daniel Merrett’s Gabba farewell appears set to be crashed by a Geelong side that coach Chris Scott says has a point to prove over their record against teams outside the AFL’s top eight.
The Brisbane Lions host the Cats, who have won their past five games and are vying for a top four spot, on Sunday afternoon.
Under-pressure Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has had a rare “stress free” week after their thrilling win over Carlton and, with the aid of an eight-day break, believes his side will go into what looks on paper as a huge mis-match with confidence.
It is Merrett’s last match in Brisbane after the veteran defender announced his retirement this week, with next round’s away clash with St Kilda to mark his 200th and final AFL appearance.
But Geelong, after their narrow escape against Richmond, could well come out snarling after Scott highlighted their inability to finish off teams they are expected to beat.
“I’m not going to argue that we haven’t been at our best against teams that are outside the top eight, that’s a reality and one we’ve confronted head on,” Scott said.
“Now we’ve just got to do it.
“Talk is cheap. What I say here really has zero impact, and in some ways, what we’ve said to the players won’t be tested until we see how we come out in the first 10 or 15 minutes this week.”
Scott said the Cats would not underestimate the Lions, who despite their rotten three-win season have occasionably troubled top sides, including Sydney at the Gabba earlier in the year.
“I’m not trying to talk Brisbane up as a great team but they were 40 points up at half-time on the weekend against a team (Carlton) that beat us a few months ago,” he said.
Whatever Geelong serves up, Leppitsch is hopeful Brisbane can counter it for Merrett’s sake.
“He’s been a mainstay through a pretty ordinary era at our footy club and he’s been a very loyal servant and we thank him for that,” he said.
“Let’s hope all of us can fire up for Rog.”