Streak looms large over Swans, Pies Preliminary

Sydney v Collingwood

Preliminary Final
Friday, 21st September, 2012
ANZ Stadium, 7:50pm

Sydney last beat Collingwood, then placed bottom of the ladder, in round 13 2005 as they were on their way to their historic drought breaking premiership. The Pies have won the eleven clashes between the two sides since by an average of 24.7 points, including their last seven at this venue. The latest clash between the two saw Collingwood triumph by eight points in round 20, with the Swans kicking a woeful 9.16, while their round 14 game in 2011 – also at this venue – was decided by one goal, with the Pies wasteful with 13.21.

The round 20 clash was won by the Pies without Dane Swan – on club rule enforced absence for a sneaky drink – and they had to overcome an early knee injury to Daisy Thomas who was subbed out in the second quarter. Dayne Beams was dominant for the Pies with 34 possessions and three goals. Travis Cloke also kicked three goals from four contested marks, in a victory ground out with work-rate, pressure and tackling – Collingwood laid 90 tackles, with Sharrod Wellingham leading the way with 11. Despite losing the hitouts and contested possessions, Collingwood were able to use the ball better when they had it, taking 18 more marks, and kicking a winning score despite eight less inside 50s.

Not all stats against Sydney

Some statistical comfort for the Swans to counter-balance their rotten recent record against Collingwood is that in 21 of 24 preliminary finals since 2000, the team with a week’s break after a qualifying final have won. Also the past 10 preliminary finals over the past five years have all been won by the team more rested. A quirk of stadium booking, with the Bulldogs major qualifying final against the Rabbitohs in the NRL set for the Saturday night, means that Collingwood will be coming off a six-day break from their hard fought semi-final against West Coast.

On the selection table, Sydney will have Heath Grundy return from suspension to replace Ben McGlyn, who is still recovering from a hamgstring injury. Mitch Morton is likely to hold his spot as a small forward, with Tommy Walsh and Tony Armstrong around about for a bench spot.

Pies injury worries

Collingwood will come into the game with injury clouds over Alan Didak and Chris Dawes, with Ben Sinclair in to cover the loss of Didak, and Jackson Paine the probable option as back-up ruckman to cover Dawes, who is being given until the last minute to get over his medial ligament strain.

The battle will be won in the centre of the ground, with Collingwood boasting a cast of classy ball winners in Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury and Beams.

Josh Kennedy was the standout for the Swans against the Pies in round 20, with 40 disposals, yet will need support from McVeigh, Hannebery and Kieren Jack to quell their midfield opponents. The ruck battle between former Swan Darren Jolly and Shane Mumford should be monumental and vital to deciding the contest. Collingwood have been pressing and pressuring back to their 2010 best, and the Swans will have to continue their supporting and rebounding ground-level positioning around loose balls and be precise by foot for their fast-spreading style they’ve used so effectively this season.

Playing styles key

The Pies slow ball-moving stlye was found out against the Hawks, with josh Gibson served up balls to spoil on a platter, Ted Richards and Grundy will be looking to do similar and feed the run and carry of Reece Shaw, and the precise and penetrating field kicking of Nick Malceski and Marty Mattner who look to deliver to Lewis Jetta in space or Adam Goodes or Sam Reid one out on the rebound. Ryan O’Keefe may be used in the defensive forward role to try stop the dangerous rebounding run of Heath Shaw.

Collingwood players will also be dealing with attending the funeral of their fallen former teammate John McCarthy on Thursday before flying to Sydney that afternoon.

This should prove to be another hard-fought battle with two evenly matched teams. The Pies will hold no fear of the ground or their opponents, yet have an emotional and injury interrupted lead up that may neutralize the psychological advantage of their 11-game streak. The Swans come in fresh and rested and will be rueing their wasteful round 20 clash, where they controlled large patches of the match.

Prediction

Swans by 4

Teams

Sydney Swans

B: Nicholas Smith, Ted Richards, Martin Mattner
HB: Alex Johnson, Heath Grundy, Jarrad McVeigh
C: Rhyce Shaw, Kieren Jack, Daniel Hannebery
HF: Craig Bird, Sam Reid, Ryan O’Keefe
F: Mitch Morton, Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson
Foll: Shane Mumford, Josh P. Kennedy, Jude Bolton
I/C: Nick Malceski, Mike Pyke, Lewis Jetta, Luke Parker
Emg: Trent Dennis-Lane, Tony Armstrong, Tommy Walsh

In: Heath Grundy
Out: Ben McGlynn (Hamstring)

Collingwood

B: Chris Tarrant, Heritier O’Brien, Nathan Brown
HB: Ben Johnson, Ben Reid, Tyson Goldsack
C: Sharrod Wellingham, Dane Swan, Alan Toovey
HF: Scott Pendlebury, Chris Dawes, Heath Shaw
F: Dale Thomas, Travis Cloke, Jamie Elliott
Foll: Darren Jolly, Steele Sidebottom, Dayne Beams
I/C: Jarryd Blair, Ben Sinclair, Andrew Krakouer, Alex Fasolo
Emg: Martin Clarke, Paul Seedsman, Jackson Paine

In: Ben Sinclair
Out: Alan Didak (Calf)

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