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Opposition Analysis: Cats get stars back

GEELONG has been boosted by the inclusion of triple premiership player Steve Johnson for tonight’s Qualifying Final against Hawthorn at the MCG.

Johnson is one of three big inclusions for the Cats, with speedster Steven Motlop and ruckman Hamish McIntosh joining him in the side.

The inclusion of the trio has come at the expense of youngsters Mitch Brown, Billie Smedts and Lincoln McCarthy who have all been omitted.

Johnson has been named for his first game in a month after pulling up well from a full week of training this week.

The mercurial Johnson has averaged more disposals than any other Cat this year with 26.3 and is most damaging heading inside 50, ranked number one for forward 50 entries.

He is also ranked second behind skipper Joel Selwood for clearances and centre clearances and surprisingly, ranked equal third for tackles (5.4 average).

He’s kicked 16 goals in 17 matches this season.

In last year’s Preliminary Final, Johnson finished with 32 disposals and four goals, this time inflicting most of the damage in a brilliant first half.

In fact, Johnson averages more disposals against the Hawks than any other team outside expansion clubs Gold Coast and GWS.

Johnson averages 21.75 disposals against the Hawks and has booted 21 goals in 16 matches against them. He does most of his damage on the outside against Hawthorn, with 14 of his 21.75 disposals uncontested on average.  

Motlop is also a big inclusion for the Cats, with his pace a worry for the Hawks.

Alastair Clarkson knows how damaging he can be, with Will Langford doing the tagging job in the first half of the Round 22 clash between the two sides.

Motlop gets most of his possessions uncontested, because his speed on the outside and finishing ability in front of goals are his biggest assets.

He has kicked 17 goals this season and is ranked number one at the Cats for running bounces.

He is also ranked second (behind Johnson) for forward 50 entries.

McIntosh will shoulder the number one ruck duties and will be keen to atone for a sub-par performance against the Hawks in Round 22 when he was well beaten by David Hale and Jonathon Ceglar.

Qualifying Final
Hawthorn v Geelong
Friday 5 September
MCG, 7.50pm

GEELONG
FB: Taylor, Lonergan, Rivers
HB: Mackie, Enright, Duncan
C: Guthrie, Selwood, Bartel
HF: Motlop, Blicavs, Murdoch
FF: Johnson, Hawkins, Stokes
Foll: McIntosh, Caddy, Kelly
Int: Horlin-Smith, Thurlow, Varcoe, Walker
Emerg: Brown, McCarthy, Hartman

IN: S. Johnson, S. Motlop, H. McIntosh
OUT: M. Brown, B. Smedts, L. McCarthy

HAWTHORN
FB: Gibson Lake Stratton
HB: Mitchell Birchall Langford
C: Hill Hodge Smith
HF: Breust Spangher Lewis
FF: Puopolo Roughead Gunston
Foll: Hale Shiels Burgoyne
Int: Duryea Ceglar Sewell Simpkin
Emerg: Hartung McEvoy Litherland

IN: L.Hodge , B.Stratton , B.Hill
OUT: R.Schoenmakers, A.Litherland, B.Hartung (all omitted)