Cats brace for fast-starting Tigers in AFL

Geelong's Mark Blicavs is braced to combat a fast start by Richmond in their AFL preliminary final.
Geelong's Mark Blicavs is braced to combat a fast start by Richmond in their AFL preliminary final.

Geelong is bracing to withstand a Richmond firestorm in the opening quarter of Friday night's AFL preliminary final at the MCG.

The Tigers are the best performed starters in the competition, winning 16 first quarters in their 23 games this season.

"They're a very fast-starting team," Geelong swingman Mark Blicavs told reporters on Thursday.

"They get out after it and this year against us they started really well that first quarter and the previous defeats we have had against them last year, the same again.

"They'll be up for it. They will be fresh and ready to go.

"And it's how we adjust and adapt to their pressure and try and bring our own."

Blicavs said the Cats were heartened by their own improvement in opening terms which has resulted in 16 quarter-time leads from 24 games this season - the second best record in the league.

"It's something we have spoken about all year, our starts," he said.

"We have started much better this season than we have in previous seasons.

"Teams are going to pressure and kick one or two goals early on us at times and that's fine, the game has ebbs and flows.

"For us, it's just about not going into our shells when that happens and still taking the game on."

The Cats have formed their plans to fill the void left by the suspension to All- Australian forward Tom Hawkins, with Blicavs believing numerous players would take the key attacking position throughout the game.

And he praised Hawkins' contribution since copping a one-game ban which ruled him out of the preliminary final.

"He has been really good," he said.

"At the club with all the boys he has been happy, he has trained really well. "He has added to all the meetings, he has come up with some ideas himself so he has been really involved.

"He has got his fingers crossed that we win and make it next week for him to come back."

Australian Associated Press