The Cats are in the box seat to win their 10th premiership after an impressive 2019 campaign thus far.
The Cats entered the season with doubts following a string of poor finals campaign, but from the start of preseason the Cats have excelled in 2019 and sit two games clear at the top of the ladder.
Geelong’s resurgence is down to the development of their young players who have taken the burden off the superstar trio of Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett.
Gryan Miers and Jordan Clark have held their own in the senior team, with Miers providing much-needed pace to the Cats attack, along with the inclusions of Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan.
Geelong has excelled at both ends of the field and have scored the most goals and conceded the fewest points of any team in the competition.
The one area of doubt on the Cats has been their performances in the finals since their 2011 premiership. Since the magical day in 2011, the Cats have won three of 12 finals games.
Whether they Cats game plan stacks up in finals football is unclear, but so far the Cats exploits see them enter the finals as the number one seed for the premiership.
2. West Coast
The Eagles were arguably favourites for the flag at half time in their clash against Collingwood last Friday night. Fast forward an hour and the Magpies secured a one-point win and regained second position on the ladder.
Despite the defeat, the Eagles have the upper hand over the Magpies and are second-favourites to win back-to-back flags.
Prior to the defeat, West Coast had won three games in a row and eight of their last nine games. Their tall forward line makes the offence a threat at all times, while the likes of Liam Ryan, Jamie Cripps, Willie Rioli and Jarrod Cameron always provide a goal threat.
Nick Natanui’s latest injury setback will put a dent in the Eagles’ premiership credentials. But as they showed last season they can cover the big-mans absence, though neither Nathan Vardy or Tom Hickey is of the same calibre of premiership ruckman Scott Lycett, who took the number one ruck mantle last year after Natanui’s season-ending injury.
Cripps’ injury setback against the Magpies will also be a worry, while premiership half-forward Daniel Venables has been ruled out for the season.
Any doubts over West Coast’s form at the MCG was dashed after their premiership last season and their form at the ground in 2019.
On their day the Eagles are arguably the best team in the competition, similar to Richmond last season who swept the league until their preliminary final defeat to Collingwood.
If the Eagles can take anything from the 2018 Tigers it is that complacency can seep into a premiership team, yet the Eagles seem destined to go the distance in their quest for back-to-back flags.
Had the Magpies lost to West Coast their premiership chances would have diminished, yet as is the case, Collingwood came away with the win that retained their credentials for this year’s flag.
A win against the odds galvanises a playing group that has been witch-hunted by the media after a string of poor performances.
The common perception is that the Magpies have not played at their best this season, yet remain second on the ladder.
Dayne Beams was expected to be the missing piece for the Magpies but his season is all but over. Beams’ omission has allowed Collingwood to reunite their midfield that dominated the league last season.
Collingwood’s ball movement in 2018 was the reason why they made the Grand Final and if they can find that form again they will be well and truly on the way to going one step better than last season.
Richmond could be on course to recreate their 2017 form and win the flag. The Tigers have an identical record to their 2017 campaign at the same time of the season, which could mean 2019 will be the year of Tiger Time.
If the Tigers manage to win the flag this season it would be considered more of a miracle than their 2017 flag. The Tigers have had to overcome an injury crisis and unearth young talent, whilst also staying in the finals hunt.
Now that their list is almost back to full strength the Tigers could be marching to September.
The Tigers will hope Dustin Martin can now spend more time in the forward line and add to his 13 goals for the season. Back in 2017, Martin kicked 37 goals and last year he kicked 31 majors, but with the injury toll rising this season Martin has had to spend more time in midfield.
Richmond also sits a game and percentage out of the top four, which could impact on their premiership credentials. Finishing in the top four may not be as important as it was previously now with the bye before the finals. But the Tigers will hope they can secure the double chance to give them every opportunity to win their 12th flag.
5. Brisbane Lions
The fairy-tale story of the 2019 season could conclude with a premiership flag for the Lions.
Brisbane was expected to improve on their five wins last season, but no one thought they would be in the top four with six weeks to go.
The Lions football is reminiscent of the Western Bulldogs in 2016 and Richmond in 2017. Their ability to move the ball forward at all cost is electrifying to watch and their youthful exuberance gives them freedom to play without fear.
Questions remain about how they will stack up in the finals, but by the way they have played this season it is doubtful they would fear the grand stage in September.