Geelong have missed some chances in what remains a tight top-four battle and have some improvement to do inside the clinches as the finals creep closer, says coach Chris Scott.
The Cats’ sat in fifth spot on the ladder following their 66-point win over Essendon on Sunday, equal on points with Sydney, Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney.
They trail the Giants by 4.1 per cent with games to come against Richmond, Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions in the final three rounds.
The Cats must assess the adductor injury suffered by forward Daniel Menzel, while Essendon may lose captain Brendon Goddard to a groin strain.
While he didn’t think his team was horrible around the ball, Scott indicated a repeat performance next week would be cause for some concern.
“I think the game was played a little bit differently to the way you would expect finals to be played which is a little bit … not concerning for us, but something we’ll need to address if that trend continues,” he said.
“We were actually beaten in and around the ball too often tonight, especially inside the clinches. That wouldn’t be a trend that we would like to see continue.
“In terms of what you could see, fundamentally it seemed like we were just a bit outside the stoppages and gave them first look at the ball.
“That was the tangible thing, the intangible we need to work through a little bit more. It wasn’t a disaster – we still generated some good chances.
“It’s not as if we were horrible, I just didn’t think we were as good as we have been against some of the better teams.
“It only takes a cursory glance at the ladder to realise it’s pretty tight, and the small things are going to potentially make a big difference at the end of the year.”
Essendon were held to their lowest-ever score at Etihad Stadium – 4.10 – and given Goddard’s injury may have to look to David Zaharakis, Zach Merrett or Joe Daniher to lead the team next week.
“He obviously couldn’t finish the game so my guess is he’s strained something which would put him in doubt next week,” said coach John Worsfold.
“He was a massive loss for us, obviously. Not having our most senior player out there for the majority of the game is a big loss in a team that really needs everyone out there.
“I was really proud of the way they stepped up to cover that loss, playing a man down throughout the majority of the game, I thought the players stayed positive and backed himself in and weren’t good enough but threw everything at Geelong.
“I don’t think it was a walk in the park for them. We had our opportunities in that last quarter. We matched them, I thought, other than the class to finish off.”
Scott was pleased with the first-up performance of Scott Selwood, one of the club’s post-season signings, who lined up with brother Joel for the first time and kept Zaharakis reasonably quiet.
“He had a role to play for us tonight and that varied a bit as the game went on but we thought he executed that really well.
He was maybe rusty with the ball a few times but when you’ve missed the amount of football that Scott has, that is I guess yo b expected.
“Persevere’s not the right word because we think he’s earned his spot in the team, and he will hold his place.
“But some of the bits around the edges that need some work with his game, I think we’ve got to be a bit patient with.”