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Cats send message to umps on Eagles frees
Geelong's Josh Hunt pressures Eagles midfielder Chris Masten. Picture: Getty Images.

Geelong coach Chris Scott has raised the stakes ahead of Friday night's clash with West Coast at Patersons Stadium by highlighting the lopsided free-kick count the Eagles have enjoyed in 2012.

West Coast, needing to recapture their best form to hit September with some momentum, have received 404 free kicks this season, more than any other side in the competition.

In games at Patersons Stadium, they have been awarded 246 free kicks and conceded just 174.

Conversely, Geelong are 12th in free kicks for (326) and first in free kicks against (377), a scenario Scott was only too happy to discuss yesterday ahead of a game which could have a large bearing on the finals fortunes of both clubs.

Already this season, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson and North Melbourne's Brad Scott, Chris' twin, have aired their displeasure at what they perceive the ducking tactics of West Coast players to earn free kicks.

Chris Scott's decision to raise the contrasting fortunes of his side and the Eagles has thrust the issue back in the spotlight and the umpires on notice for Friday night, the first meeting between the clubs since last year's preliminary final, won comfortably by the Cats.

"We haven't put much work into why the Eagles are getting that many free kicks, with the possible exception that they do get a lot of free kicks for high contact," Scott said.

"But we have spent a lot of time on the fact that we are No.1 in the comp for frees against ... there's a little bit of an issue with discipline there.

"It's more about the attention to detail with our technique and making sure that we don't give away clumsy free kicks.

"Free kicks where you're going really hard at the ball and there's just stuff that's unavoidable, we can accept to an extent.

"But the really lazy free kicks, sort of falling into someone's back or just going a little bit high in a tackle is the stuff that we need to fix up.

"It will be a huge factor in the contested ball numbers. You've got the best in the comp against the worst in the comp and if that continues, that's going to really put us behind the eight ball."

West Coast coaches have continually denied that Eagles players have engaged in illegal tactics and John Worsfold was again at pains yesterday to dismiss the issue, stating the free kick tally was irrelevant to his team.

The Eagles coach said he had spent no time thinking about the debate throughout the season.

"We don't go into games with an aim of how many free kicks we're going to get or how many we're going to give away," he said.

"The game unfolds as it is. The umpires will call what they see."

Having been spanked in three of their last four games, especially through the midfield, the Eagles seem certain to include Andrew Embley after his second game at Swan Districts last weekend following major shoulder surgery.

Worsfold said Embley had proved he could play a full game, but the match committee was leaning towards using him as a substitute.

"From all accounts of how he's feeling from the weekend, he's feeling really good. He's always been in our best 22," Worsfold said.

"The performance of the players who have come in while he's been unavailable has been outstanding for us.

"Sometimes that can make you think you're not as desperate to get him out there. But he's a quality player."

Geelong lost an eight-point thriller against West Coast at Patersons Stadium in round 16 last year. While they may lose defender Josh Hunt to a thigh injury, they are hopeful David Wojcinski can return.

Scott said having to travel to Perth after a seven-day break from last Friday night's exhilarating win over Hawthorn was balanced by the fact that West Coast had only a six-day rest since their loss to Fremantle last Saturday.

He rated the away game to West Coast as "probably the hardest road trip going around".

Scott was wary that, with the exception of Daniel Kerr, the Eagles had too many of their best players down on form against the Dockers and would be smarting.

"Freo clearly had some plans that worked pretty well," he said. "(But) it can be extremely dangerous to look at last week's game and try and implement the plans of the opposition.

"We won't be going to the game thinking we've got a huge advantage around the stoppages given our first-choice ruckmen aren't playing and we're going to come up against the best duo in the comp."