Tigers show level Cats need to reach
GEELONG coach Chris Scott has declared reigning premier Richmond the benchmark of the competition after Sunday's gallant loss at the MCG.
Conceding "fundamental mistakes" were to blame for the 18-point defeat, Scott admitted the Tigers were again the team to beat after climbing to the top of the AFL ladder.
But the Cats won't enter the bye believing their premiership hopes have been dashed.
"We didn't come away from the game thinking we're miles behind the benchmark and we're going to have to tip our game style upside down," Scott stressed.
"We're certainly not going to rely on personnel coming back by itself, that potentially could help us, but sometimes it's a mistake thinking guys who have missed 14-15 weeks can come back in and help you straight away.
"So there's going to be some planning and thinking to be done to integrate those guys back into the team. We think we can get some organic improvement from some of our young players between now and the end of the season, but it's very dangerous to look too far ahead and think it's all going to fall into place.
"We've like to build some momentum and take them on again. We have no choice, we play them again in 47 days and hopefully we're good enough to play them again after that."
Mistakes proved costly for the Cats, particularly late in the game, when Richmond took the game by the scruff of the neck.
"Our effectiveness wasn't as good as we would've liked," Scott conceded.
"Even the clearances around the ground, we were on top for a lot of it but penetration they got from the boundary throw-ins in particular was better.
"We were plus-12 in centre-bounce clearance, plus-9 inside 50s but just not as good in the fundamentals as they were.
"It felt a tight game for the most part, but the difference was they were able to make the most of some of their opportunities. They were really strong at the fall of the ball, their dangerous small forwards were good and they took their chances.
"It's not a game where we're coming away thinking there were some really important parts of our game that didn't stand up, it was more some of the fundamentals, crucial contest especially early in that last quarter … a couple of basic skill errors, which we shouldn't spend too much time bemoaning, but in a tight game against really high quality opposition that can make the difference."
One of those errors was a turnover from Jake Kolodjashnij, which later resulted in a crucial goal to Jack Riewoldt, effectively ending Geelong's hopes of victory.
"That's an example of one of the fundamentals I was speaking of," Scott said.
"But Jake played pretty well and he's been playing well for a long period of time for us. We're not a coaching group who will hang an individual for a skill error, but you can't also shy away from the fact that in a really tight game, if the opposition gets a few of them right and you get them wrong, it could be the difference."
Springing to the top of the ladder, by virtue of a superior percentage to West Cost, Richmond is well placed for a tilt at back-to-back flags.
And Scott knows it.
"I think they are (the benchmark)," Scott said.
"I don't really know, I might add. Looking around the competition at the moment, it's difficult to work out who's in the best shape. At least statistically, it depends where the game is played. A couple of teams that have been able to beat them have beaten them outside the MCG.
"They are fortunate that they do play a lot of games here and they play the ground really well. You would've thought if they're lucky enough to make the last game here they would be the team to beat, but there's still a lot footy to be played.
"But if you held a gun to my head and asked me to pick a team, I would pick them."
The silver lining for the Cats is the health of the list, with a host of players set to return after the bye.
That list is headed by Cam Guthrie, Harry Taylor and Scott Selwood, who will return against the Western Bulldogs next round, while forward Dan Menzel is also a "live chance".