National News

Cats focus on early intensity in AFL final

There's no secret to the remedy, Patrick Dangerfield just knows Geelong need to perform better from the opening bounce if they're to advance directly to an AFL preliminary final.

The Cats started slowly in their last three finals appearances coming off a bye, going goalless in two of the first quarters and managing just one major in the other.

They conceded a total of 11 goals in the process on the way to losses in each of those games.

Another poor first-quarter showing won't cut it against minor premiers Port Adelaide in Thursday night's qualifying final at Adelaide Oval.

"That's the challenge for us, to make sure that we start well, especially in hostile territory and an interstate game," Cats star Dangerfield said.

"That's on us as players to get it right and we don't want to be chasing tail from four or five goals down after quarter one.

"It's too difficult, especially with the shortened quarters.

"We've got to make sure that we can control that as players and we're ready to go from the first bounce."

Geelong won the only previous meeting with Port Adelaide this year by 60 points, kicking four goals to one in the first half and finishing far stronger than their opponents.

The Cats will likely regain first-choice ruckman Rhys Stanley (groin) on Thursday night and have almost their full squad available, having welcomed back captain Joel Selwood and champion Gary Ablett in the win over Sydney in round 18.

It leaves them well placed to attack the Power and reach a fourth preliminary final in the space of five seasons.

"(The opportunity) is massive and every team will say the same thing, but we've got to control what we can and that's how we start the game and how we prepare for it over the next week or so," Dangerfield said.

"Port have been the best side all season but our form's been pretty good as well, so we'll be confident going into the game.

"But it matters little what we say, to be honest.

"At the business end of the year it's about your actions and what you do."

Dangerfield said he would likely spend 60 or 70 per cent of his playing time in the engine room against Port Adelaide after starring in his combined midfield-forward role so far this season.

© AAP 2020