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Oppo analysis: R21

Team Announcement: R21 v Geelong See the side that will face the Cats this weekend.

The line up

B: Stewart, Henderson, Kolodjashnij
HB: Guthrie, Blicavs, Tuohy
C: S.Selwood, J.Selwood, Duncan
HF: Menegola, Parsons, Narkle
F: Menzel, Hawkins, Parfitt
FOLL: Stanley, Dangerfield, Ablett
I/C: Fogarty, Henry, Kelly, O’Connor
EMG: Abbott, Jones, Murdoch, Thurlow

IN: Stewart, Parsons, Narkle, Stanley, O’Connor
OUT: Thurlow, Jones, Cunico, Abbott, Bews

Read: Hawks to unveil Irish debutant

What to expect

Despite a star-studded line-up which includes Brownlow Medalists Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett, Geelong has struggled to put together a string of consistent form this season.

The Cats have managed just three consecutive wins as their best winning streak in 2018, when they beat Carlton, Gold Coast and North Melbourne between Rounds 10 to 12. 

The Cats are coming off a narrow three-point loss to Richmond last Friday night, their third loss of three points or less this season.

Currently sitting in ninth position with three rounds to play, the Cats will view Saturday afternoon's clash with the Hawks as, simply, a must-win. 

Unsurprisingly, Geelong's strength this season has been in the midfield, ranking fourth in the competition for clearances on the back of the grunt work of Dangerfield (5.4 clearances per game), Joel Selwood (5.3), Ablett (4.6) and first-year star Tim Kelly (4.4). 

The midfield battle will be a key component of this match-up, with both sides boasting elite talent throughout their respective on-ball brigades.

Clearances have been somewhat of a struggle for the Hawks this year, rating 14th league-wide despite Tom Mitchell (8.1 per game) being the competition leader in the statistic.

The area proved a factor in the two rivals' Round 2 encounter earlier this year, when the Hawks recorded six more clearances than the Cats in anoutstanding one-point win for the brown and gold. 

Player to watch

With all the pre-season hype over the 'Danger-wood-lett' Geelong midfield, many believed there wasn't enough room for all three champions to thrive playing alongside each other, let alone allow a mature-age, first-year recruit to become a star virtually overnight. 

But that is exactly what Tim Kelly has managed to do. 

Having appeared in all 19 games this year, the Western Australian has had an outstanding debut season, highlighted by his performance against Richmond last week where he gathered a career-high 36 possessions, four clearances and a goal.

The 24-year old is a natural ball-getter and has also proven dangerous in front of goal, having hit the scoreboard in five of his last six outings. 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs