Geelong Cats record loss to Gold Coast Suns, fresh doubts after nightmare loss as ‘Muggle midfield’ exposed

Fresh concerns have been cast over Geelong’s credentials after a record-breaking loss to the Gold Coast Suns that arguably exposed a concerning lack of depth.

The Cats on Thursday night copped a 64-point hiding from the Suns, who became the first AFL team since Melbourne in 1994 to kick such a high score – 26.8 (164) – against Geelong.

It was easily the highest score ever conceded by the Cats in the Chris Scott era, usurping Sydney’s 22.16 (148) in Round 11, 2014.

They were without an array of their best 22 players, namely Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Hawkins, Jeremy Cameron, Mitch Duncan and Sam De Koning. But the lack of depth was seriously exposed – to the point where Fox Footy experts were concerned it wasn’t just a one-off.

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“That’s a massive score to concede – and it was the ease in which some of the goals were scored I think would be the most concerning part for the people in charge down at Geelong, the coaches and even the fans who would’ve sat there and gone ‘this is not Geelong’ just conceding walk-in goals,” Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall told Fox Footy post-match.

Dual premiership Kangaroo David King pointed out that Geelong is one of the best teams at stopping majors 0m to 30m from goal, averaging just six against them per game. On Thursday night, the Suns booted 13 goals in that region.

Tom Stewart of the Cats. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“That’s their zone and they defend it so hard,” King told Fox Footy.

“OK there’s a few (players) not there – Duncan’s not there, De Koning’s not there – so it does look different when you add to that Cameron and Hawkins.

“They’ve stuck to their long-term plan of being healthy hopefully towards the back-half of the year – and maybe these four points wasn’t absolute, throw-the-kitchen-sink at it, so maybe that’s reflective in their performance. But gee it’s a big number.”

Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna added: “Is it just a mulligan? It’s so uncharacteristically bad for the Cats that you just write it off. They left five or six of their stars at home, some of their other senior players looked like they didn’t want to be there the way they played. Or is it some concerns and signs?”

Montagna suggested the Suns haven’t been the only midfield brigade to get hold of Geelong this year, pointing to the big numbers the Power and Blues on-ballers racked up in the past month.

Chris Scott, Senior Coach of the Cats. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

King said when skipper Dangerfield is on the sidelines, the Cats have a “Muggle midfield”.

“Without Dangerfield there, there’s no magic,” he said. “They’re workmanlike and they’re super honest. We love who they are as individuals and they’re good, average AFL players. But something needs to be addressed quickly in there.”

King suggested the likes of Gryan Miers, Max Holmes and Oisin Mullin should spend more time on the ball, while Montagna said Scott “has to get creative with what he wants” in the midfield.

“They need some more physicality in there when Dangerfield’s not playing because they are quite light,” Montagna said.

Dunstall added: “You can’t just sit there and rely on Dangerfield fixing everything. He’s in the twilight of his career.

“They’re looking for that next generation of midfielders to take over. But they’re a long way off it at the moment.”

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