WHERE AND WHEN: SCG, Sunday June 3, 3.15pm
LAST TIME: Sydney Swans 16.18 (114) d Western Bulldogs 11.9 (75), round 18, 2011 at the SCG
After comprehensively defeating Hawthorn by 37 points in round five, Sydney’s fortunes have taken a dramatic turnaround.
They’ve lost three of their last four – only having defeated Melbourne in that time. Injuries to Adam Goodes and Shane Mumford have put a lot of pressure on their midfield, which unfortunately has seen them struggle in recent weeks against some strong centre groups.
Mumford will return to give the Swans some valuable influence in the middle, and it will be interesting to see whether the output of Josh Kennedy,Kieran Jack, Jude Bolton and others increases with one of the better rucks in the league contesting the stoppages.
The Bulldogs have also seen a form turnaround, but it has been positive. The Dogs were winless after three rounds, but have won four of their last six and have been more than competitive in their losses against last year’s Grand Finalists in Geelong and Collingwood.
Matthew Boyd, Ryan Griffin and Daniel Cross have continued to excel in the middle, and young father-son recruits in Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis have taken to the game superbly, routinely featuring in the bests for the Dogs.
Five weeks ago the predictions would have been as one sided as they come, but the recent form lines have produced a wild card which should result in a cracking contest.
Josh Kennedy vs Matthew Boyd
Kennedy’s 2012 has been exceptional, quickly rising to be amongst the favourites in the running for the Brownlow Medal. He wins the hard ball, kicks goals, and has proven himself against the hard tag.
Today he will face a player who takes the game on in a similar fashion, Bulldogs captain Matthew Boyd.
Boyd’s season may be a little under appreciated, but it is only because he does all the hard stuff that nobody notices. He is constantly under packs fighting for the ball, and is always ready to handball to one of his flashier team mates who are able to run and carry.
The fortunes of the game will rest on the duel between these two contested ball warriors.
Jordan Roughead and Ayce Cordy vs Heath Grundy and Ted Richards
Impressive form from these key forwards has coincided with wins for the Dogs, so it goes without saying that they need to take all the contested marks they can in order for the Dogs to remain a chance.
However, Grundy and Richards provide, like most of Sydney’s defenders, valuable run out of the back half, so Cordy and Roughead must carefully defend against these two who love to get forward and set up scoring chances.
If Cordy and Roughead can negate the counter attacking run from these two whilst hitting the scoreboard, the Bulldogs will rate themselves a very good chance of causing the upset.
In a round of upsets, it would not surprise to see the Western Bulldogs push the Swans right to the line.
But with the game in Sydney, and with the Swans recalling ruckman Mumford, it might be too much for the Dogs to overcome.
Swans by 23 points
B: Alex Johnson, Ted Richards, Rhyce Shaw
HB: Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy, Martin Mattner
C: Lewis Jetta, Josh P. Kennedy, Nicholas Smith
HF: Kieren Jack, Ryan O’Keefe, Daniel Hannebery
F: Sam Reid, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Craig Bird
Foll: Mike Pyke, Jude Bolton, Ben McGlynn
I/C:Shane Mumford, Trent Dennis-Lane, Luke Parker, Tony Armstrong,
In: Shane Mumford, Tony Armstrong
Out: Nick Malceski, Tom Walsh
Milestones: Heath Grundy (100 games), Lewis Jetta (50 games)
B: Dylan Addison, Brian Lake, Ryan Hargrave
HB: Robert Murphy, Mark Austin, Patrick Veszpremi
C: Daniel Cross, Matthew Boyd, Easton Wood
HF: Mitchell Wallis, Jordan Roughead, Adam Cooney
F: Daniel Giansiracusa, Ayce Cordy, Luke Dahlhaus
Foll: William Minson, Ryan Griffen, Thomas Liberatore
I/C: Shaun Higgins, Liam Picken, Zephaniah Skinner, Tory Dickson
In: Dylan Addison, Easton Wood, Ayce Cordy
Out: Justin Sherman, Liam Jones, Daniel Pearce
Milestones: Ryan Hargrave (200 games)