Melbourne rating for red-hot Geelong litmus test

Melbourne are ready to tackle head-on the daunting litmus test of facing AFL benchmark Geelong.

The Cats (7-0) are the only unbeaten team in the competition ahead of facing Melbourne (5-2) at the MCG on Saturday night.

“If you want to be one of the best teams in the competition, you got to be good at all three phases, and that’s what Geelong are,” Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.

“They’re an unbelievable team in all three phases of the game and that’s the type of team that we want to be and we know we’re strong in a couple of phases. We need to get better in a few. But this gives us an opportunity.

“We’ve got five guys that have played less than 10 games. So we come up against a team that’s well-experienced, they’re well-drilled, they’re good in all phases.

“We’re excited about the opportunity. We’re ready.

“We think we’ve trained to a level that will put us in a good position. And we’re looking forward to putting on a performance for our fans.”

Goodwin was confident gun midfielder Christian Petracca would be able to handle a tag if required, after the Demons worked on plans to counter that strategy over the past month.

Melbourne will contemplate whether to play a defensive forward on star Cats back man Tom Stewart.

But they also need to worry about Geelong’s “incredibly dangerous” forward line, with Jeremy Cameron, Tom Hawkins, Ollie Henry, Tyson Stengle and the returning Gary Rohan all threatening.

“They’re very dynamic forward half of the ground and it’s really going to come down to how we defend,” Goodwin said.

“Our ability to defend the ground, our ability to put them in a game that we know that we can control and control the way that they get their ball movement going.

“If we can do that, then it’s going to go a long way to winning the game.”

Skipper Max Gawn’s latest head-to-head with Geelong ruckman Rhys Stanley could also prove decisive at the contest.

“They’ve had some really good duels, those two, in the last few years, so I know it’s a team that Max looks forward to playing against,” Goodwin said.

“He’s had some really good games and had some high-level impacts. So he’s excited about playing against some of the good ruckmen in the competition and Stanley’s one of those.

“He challenges, he can run, as can Max. So it’s gonna be a good battle.”

The Demons have named an unchanged team for Saturday’s match.

Winger Lachie Hunter will play VFL, as he will recruit Shane McAdam, who is still several weeks away as Melbourne take a cautious approach after his hamstring injury.