Having fallen just short 12 months ago, Geelong started the season searching for redemption and were expected to make a big impact at the pointy end of the season, but ended up falling at the same hurdle in 2017.
Geelong’s best win of the season came in the second week of the finals. The Cats went up against a heavily fancied Sydney side but never let them in the game, eventually running out 10-goal winners.
It was true team performance from the Cats, led by an inspirational 36 disposals and two goal effort from Mitch Duncan, four first half goals from Patrick Dangerfield and a mammoth combined 24 tackles from Mark Blicavs and Scott Selwood.
In Round 20 Geelong welcomed a rampaging Sydney to the Cattery. Playing at home, the Cats were expected to make a contest, but missing their talisman in Dangerfield due to suspension, the Cats looked out of sorts from the beginning. The Swans themselves were just coming off a disappointing loss to Hawthorn and responded emphatically.
The Cats were fortunate to only go down by 46 points, thanks in large part to Duncan and the Selwood brothers. To add insult to (literal) injury, the senior Selwood brother was forced off in the last quarter with an ankle injury.
Mitch Duncan was always a reliable player but in 2017 he took himself to another level. Duncan averaged eight more disposals, two more tackles, two more clearances, three more contested possessions and five more uncontested possessions per game in 2017 than the rest of his career. Duncan had a career best year and will be a critical cog in Geelong’s midfield as they push for premiership success next year.
Best and fairest:
Patrick Dangerfield continued his monster 2016 form with an equally impressive season. Playing a more prominent role in the forward line, a dangerous tackle on Matthew Kreuzer in Round 19 meant he was ineligible to take back-to-back Brownlow Medals but his season was still recognised with a second consecutive Carji Greeves Medal.
What does Geelong’s off-season look like?
Geelong’s main target this trade period has been favourite son Gary Ablett. The focus for them has been to bolster their forward line, having unsuccessfully targeted the likes of Jack Watts, Jake Stringer and Devon Smith. Having missed out on the trio, Geelong may well look to the draft with their highest pick (as it stands, pick 19) since they took Nakia Cockatoo with pick 10 in 2014.
2018 crystal ball:
A tantalising midfield of Joel Selwood, Dangerfield, Duncan and (potentially) Ablett awaits next year. Having fallen short two years on the trot and with the personnel at their disposal, anything less than a Grand Final berth will be an unacceptable return.