A furore has erupted over Sydney’s salary cap concessions after the reigning premier announced the signing of key Crows forward Kurt Tippett.
Representatives of Hawthorn, Brisbane and Adelaide have all questioned the additional 9.8% increase afforded the Swans in their salary cap for the increased cost of living allowance.
While it seems that a major factor in Tippet leaving Adelaide was the desire to leave the pressured existence of an AFL player in a footy-centric city, Adelaide president Rob Chapman lamented the fact Tippett was leaving with ”Certainly from my discussions with Kurt, he really enjoyed himself at the Adelaide footy club, but the fact was he was looking to move away from that fishbowl existence”.
Tippet himself told that he came to his decision “This was a combined football/lifestyle decision and the balance between the two… I was born in Sydney, I have a lot of friends and family there, and this offers me a chance to play football in a lifestyle which I really enjoy.
“It’s obvious the Swans have a very special culture, in addition to a very good team. I look forward to being part of it.”
However the fact that Sydney have extra room in their salary cap due to the concessions has been looming large over the trade. Swans president Andrew Ireland defended the cost-of-living allowance afforded to the Swans, an additional $862,000 this season in the salary cap.
“We’ve got a cost of living allowance, it is clearly dearer in Sydney … there’s no slush fund from our allowance, every player on our list gets (an extra) 10 per cent.”
Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold said of the living allowance ”I think it is just an outdated policy and one that we as a league should have reviewed a long time ago,” he said.
”I don’t know that Melbourne and even Perth costs are that much lower than Sydney now. I think it is an archaic policy setting that needs to be reviewed.” Newbold’s predecessor at Hawthorn Jeff Kennet remarked that the concessions were “20 years out of date” and told how it was almost as expensive to live in Melbourne as it was in Sydney now. Kennett was also part of the group calling for a review of concessions in 2003 in the wake of the Brisbane Lions third consecutive premiership.
The most recent House Price Report conducted by Australian Property Monitors showed that for the March 2012 quarter Sydney had the highest median house price of the AFL states at $641, 037, ahead of Perth ($531,065), Melbourne ($529,077), Adelaide ($437,085) and Brisbane ($433,244); with a national average house price of $535,080.
For apartments, it was a similar story, with Sydney’s $462,145 unit price 13.46% higher than the national average of $406,653, 18% higher than Melbourne ($389,491), 36% higher than Brisbane ($338,910), 62% higher than Adelaide ($285, 651) and 35% higher than Perth ($340,947).
Sydney recorded a record high for median weekly house rent with $500 per week – compared to the national average of $411 and, along with Darwin, also tops the median rents for units in Australian capital cities at $460 a week compared to Brisbane ($365), Melbourne ($350), Perth ($350) and Adelaide ($280).
Is the cost of living in Melbourne – as reflected in house prices – really almost as high as Sydney?
The Sydney Swans were unexpected winners, and underrated by almost everyone in the AFL except themselves in claiming the 2012 premiership.
The club may not have bought about a revolution in tactics or style, but did more than anyone in proving the maxim ‘a champion team will beat a team of champions’. The Swans lie in a unique position in their fragile place within superficial Sydney’s sporting culture. Despite celebrating the 30th anniversary of their relocation from South Melbourne to the Harbour City this year, and participating in six of the last seven finals series, they are still a team largely reliant to on-field success for their financial viability and profile. Recruiting nous and recycling players into a strong culture and work ethic has circumvented the traditional dip and high-draft pick cycle to leave the Swans one of the most consistent and competitive clubs in the competition, who were a single point away from having three flags within seven years.
The hard-at-it, work for your teammates, contested footy legacy left by Paul Roos – and more particularly the player-lead ‘Bloods Culture’ – still beats strong within the 2012 squad. The slight tweak of the contested ball and stoppages game plan by John Longmire that introduced rebounding attack – enabled by the recruitment and development of pace and strong and skilled outside mids -combined with the side being the most defensive team in the competition, made them a formidable opponent throughout the year, particularly in finals when the pressure lifted.
The foundation of the Swans successful season was their settled back-six, who conceded the least points of any team in the AFL – 1629 points at an average of only 74 points per game. Ted Richard’s stellar season – including taking the most intercept marks and second most intercept possessions – was recognised with him being named as All Australian centre half back, Rhyce Shaw had the most running bounces in the AFL, 20 year old Alex Johnson played 25 games and took huge steps into being a quality defender, and Marty Mattner and Heath Grundy unassumedly took some huge scalps while also mounting countless attacks from the half-back line.
The Swans were the fifth best attacking side in the regular season, kicking an average of 104 points per game. Sydney were the most accurate side in front of the big sticks and enjoyed a huge spread of goal-kickers, with 27 of the 31 players they used in 2012 having a six-pointer next to their name. Nine Swans players scored twenty-plus goals for the year, their leading goal kicker Lewis Jetta with 45 ahead of Adam Goodes with 37, but it was the contribution of goal-kicking midfielders which proved the difference in many clashes. There were 124 goals from centremen – lead by Josh Kenendy with 29 and Kieren Jack with 27 – and even ruckmen Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke kicked 20 between them.
Sydney’s attacking thrusts were often started from pressure-forced turnovers and rebounding from defensive spoils/intercepted marks. Players all over the ground worked to support their team mates around disputed balls, which when extracted by hard nuts, Bolton, Parker and McVeigh was usually fed out to clearance king Kennedy and the fast-developing Hannebury and delivered quickly and long to one on one contests (Goodes, Reid) or players running into space (Jetta, who was truly exciting with open space in front of him) created from playing a compacted forward set up.
Mumford and Pyke forged a formidable ruck combination throughout the season, as well as feeding Kennedy and co from the taps, both provided contested marking ability as the go-to targets for long-to the boundary kick-outs and chip-and-possess passages of play, as well as providing scoreboard damage as resting forwards with 12 and 8 goals respectively.
The Swans so-called blue collar midfielders again had prominent seasons, McVeigh, Jack, O’Keefe and Hannebery all averaging around 25 disposals per game, and each hitting the scoreboard. O’Keefe’s Norm Smith medal capping off a season where he was the heart and soul of the hard-working Swans, amassing 156 tackles, 20 goals and 600 disposals. Five players topped 100 tackles for the season as the Swans lead the tackle count with 1830 – 147 higher than next best Hawthorn.
Josh Kennedy – with an average of 28.32 disposals (307 kicks and AFL leading 401 handballs) for 2012, Kennedy was the Swans most prominent ball-winner (408 contested possessions, 166 hard-ball gets, 97 loose-ball gets, clearance topper (185), damaging ball user (85 inside 50s, 35 rebound 50s) and also scored 187 points off his own boot with 29 goals 13 and contributed 125 tackles and 73 marks. His standout season noted by the umpires too, with Kennedy finishing in eight place in Brownlow voting with 19, including best on ground in five games, and arguably hottest WAG of the evening.
Ted Richards finally received recognition with an AA jumper for his improvement from bomber battler to astute and dangerous rebounding defender. His last quarter intercepts against Buddy Franklin in the grand final were the main reason the Swans held up the cup.
In a season where the list all pulled together and claimed the flag, the few disappointments came in the form of injury – with Ben McGlynn desperately unlucky to miss the grand final against his own team after injuring his hamstring in the qualifying final, and ranga recruit Gary Rohan horribly breaking his leg in round four after a very promising start to the season.
Swans stalwart stars Bolton and Goodes both succumbed to injuries this season and will face reduced deep forward roles in the future as their bodies feel the brunt of many season of hard-contested footy. The further development of Luke Parker to step into Jude’s shoes, and getting some games into Tom Mitchell, Harry Cunningham and big Irishman Tommy Walsh may help fill the holes, yet with players the calibre of Mark Seaby, Tony Armstrong, Trent Dennis-Lane and Mitch Morton struggling to crack the top 22, the Swans have good depth and will only need luck with injuries to remain a force for 2013.
Expectations for 2013
The Swans have an ingrained culture and depth in the list and a game plan the players believe in and are capable and willing to execute. Their rebounding fast spread footy is a nightmare for opposition defenders and their stingy back six will lay the foundation for many more wins. An always competitive side, the Swans would expect to return to the top four if similarly blessed with a lack of major season-ending injuries to key players.
2012 AFL Grand Final Preview – Hawthorn vs. Sydney
2:30pm Saturday 29thSeptember @ MCG – Weather: 14°C – Showers
Guest writer Conca Truck gives us his thoughts on the Grand Final.
After 206 games in season 2012 it all come down to this last one. The biggest game of the year, the AFL grand final between Hawthorn and Sydney.
These two teams have had fantastic years finishing 1st and 3rd. They both won their first qualifying finals, earning themselves the week off to get fresh and ready for their preliminary final. The Swans where too strong for the Magpies while the Hawks beat the Crows in a thriller.
B: Grant Birchall , Josh Gibson , Benjamin Stratton
HB: Matt Suckling , Ryan Schoenmakers , Shaun Burgoyne
C: Jordan Lewis , Sam Mitchell , Xavier Ellis
HF: Jack Gunston, Lance Franklin, Isaac Smith
F: Cyril Rioli , Jarryd Roughead , Luke Breust
Foll: David Hale , Luke Hodge, Brad Sewell
I/C: Clinton Young, Liam Shiels , Shane Savage, Paul Puopolo
Emg: Max Bailey, Thomas Murphy , Kyle Cheney
B: Rhyce Shaw , Ted Richards, Martin Mattner
HB: Alex Johnson , Heath Grundy , Nicholas Smith
C: Lewis Jetta , Kieren Jack , Daniel Hannebery
HF: Craig Bird , Sam Reid , Ryan O’Keefe
F: Jarrad McVeigh , Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson
Foll: Shane Mumford, Josh P. Kennedy, Jude Bolton
I/C: Nick Malceski, Mike Pyke , Luke Parker , Mitch Morton
Emg: Trent Dennis-Lane , Tony Armstrong, Tommy Walsh
Last 5 times they have met:
Sydney 95 def.by Hawthorn 102 – SCG Round 22, 2012
Hawthorn 69 def.by Sydney 106 – Aurora Round 5, 2012 Hawthorn 122 def Sydney 86 – MCG Semi Final, 2011
Sydney 60 def.by Hawthorn 106 – SCG Round 9, 2011 Sydney 129 def hawthorn 85 – SCG Round 19, 2010
The midfield is where the game will be won and lost. There are some genuine stars of the competition in both midfields with Kennedy, Jack, Mitchell and Hodge. Both midfields will get best use of the ball from ruckmen but whichever teams midfield can get the ball from the middle and pump it long inside 50 the most will win the game.
2. Richards vs. Franklin
Richards has played on Franklin the last 3 times these teams have met and I would expect him to play on him again. Franklin has booted 4,0 and 4 goals in those 3 games and with Franlin getting back to his best from his injury and Richards in career best form, I would expect a gruelling contest.
3. Gibson vs. Goodes
With Schoenmakers going to Reid, that will leave Gibson to play on Goodes. Last time they met Gibson kept Goodes to the 2 goals and 15 touches and if Gibson can shut down Goodes again it will give the Hawks a good chance of winning.
4. N.Smith vs. Breust
Breust has had a great 2012 season booting 43 goals while also having 25 goal assists (ranking 2nd in the comp) and putting pressure on defenders with 105 tackles. Smith has also been great down back for the Swans and he should go to Breust and limit his output. Smith played on Breust in the round 22 clash this year keeping him goalless.
Burgoyne has already played in two Grand Finals with Port Adelaide and he always steps up on the big stage. Burgoyne was best on ground last time he played Sydney with 26 touches and three crucial goals and a big game from Burgoyne is vital if the Hawks want to win.
The best defender in the competition Ted Richards will be waiting for Buddy this Saturday. Richards kept Franklin goalless and to four goals in their two clashes this season. But on the big stage expect Buddy to step up and have a big game, which might not mean kicking a bag of goals but setting them up for his teammates.
After missing last week with an illness Hodge will be fit and firing to play against the Swans this week. Hodge has shown he is a big game player winning the Norm Smith in 2008. His toughness around the ball will set the standard for his teammates.
The skilful defender is important for the Hawks as his pinpoint kicking is really going to set the Hawks up when coming out of defence.
After only 17 and 20 disposals against the Swans this year, Mitchell has struggled against them. But Mitchell has been in great form lately and has been one of the best Hawks performers in finals so except a big performance this week even if he does get tagged by Bird.
Josh P. Kennedy
Kennedy has sent a message to his former Hawk teammates this season in the two matches they played with huge games. Kennedy has been one of the most improved players of the comp and he has turned himself into a genuine star of the AFL and is a very good chance for the Norm Smith medal on Saturday.
One of the best players in the history of the Swans, Goodes will be looking for his second premiership medallion. Goodes has been known for his ability to turn a game around single-handedly and for his massive performances in the big games. If the Swans want to win their 5th Premiership then Adam Goodes will have to be at his best.
Schoenmakers will man Reid up this week and the Swans need to exploit the pair in one on one contests. Schoenmakers has had 20 goals scored on him in his last four games and Reid is a good chance to boot three+ goals on him this week. But Reid has only kicked two goals against the Hawks in their two contests this year.
The excitement machine is a massive X-Factor for the Swans on Saturday. But Jetta has been quiet against the Hawks this year with a combined total of 22 disposals from the two games against the Hawks this season and expect a Hawk to pay close attention to him.
Richards has had an amazing season but he will have one of the toughest jobs in football, playing at Full Back on Lance Franklin. Richards one of the best defenders in the comp has kept Buddy to 4 goals in there 2 clashes this year and if he can limit Franklins output, it will go a long way in the Swans winning the game.
The best two teams of 2012 will do battle for the ultimate football glory: The Premiership Cup.
It is going to be a great battle from start to finish. The Hawks are a very attacking team while the Swans are defensive and if it turns into a shoot out, the Hawks might be too strong for the Swans. If the Swans slow the game down they are a very good chance of wining. Both teams have some great players and are evenly matched all around the ground.
But I would expect the Hawks to step up after last week and win a thriller.
Tip: Hawthorn by 5 points
Norm Smith Medal: Shaun Burgoyne
First Goal: Lewis Roberts-Thompson
Thanks for reading and leave a comment on which team you think will win the game, Norm Smith and kick the first goal:
One of the eagerly awaited and evenly matched grand finals of recent times sees season-long premiership favourites Hawthorn take on the perennially underrated Swans.
An irresistible battle of attack versus defence awaits on that ‘one day in September’.
Hawthorn finished minor premiers with 17 wins and one of the biggest percentages ever recorded – 154.59. The Hawks kicked 2,679 points (at an average of 121.7 per game) for the season – almost 42 goals more than the next most attacking team – Adelaide, who finished second.
Sydney finished third on the ladder, with 16 wins, with the best defence in the league – only conceding 1629 points – at an average of 74 per game. The Swans were also the fifth best attacking side in the comp, kicking an average of 104-points per game. Their percentage of 140.98 was the fifth highest in the history of the Swans/South Melbourne, only bettered by the 1909 (premiership year 168.9), 1919’s 158.71 (2nd on the ladder), 1912 – 156.97 and 1918’s 143.07 – when they also took out the flag.
In the two previous meetings between the sides this season, the Swans unexpectedly defeated the Hawks 106 to 69 in Tasmania in round five, while Hawthorn prevailed by 7 in a classic grudge match at the SCG in round 22 after trailing by a big margin in the first quarter.
Lance Franklin – who was subdued early but finished with 4.3 and Sean Burgoyne three goals, seven marks and 26 disposals starred for the Hawks in the round 22 victory, while Josh Kennedy racked up 36 disposals and Daniel Hannebery with 31 including 21 by hand were the best from the hand-ball heavy Swans.
In that game Hawthorn were able to use their advantage in the hitouts and their superior foot skills to generate more marks (69 HAW 62 SYD) and scoring shots (27 HAW 25 SYD) from less disposals (376 SYD to 336 HAW) and fewer kicks (203 SYD 199 HAW) than the Swans.
The last time these two teams met at the MCG was the semi-final last year where the Hawks came out harder and more determined and blew the Swans away early, and coasted to a 36-point win. The Swans last beat Hawthorn at the MCG in round 11 2007, and have lost the last four clashes between the sides at the ground. Overall the Hawks hold an 83 to 66 – with two drawn games – record over Sydney/South Melbourne.
The Swans not only boast the statistically best defence for the season, but also one of the most settled back sixes, and a potentially dangerous rebounding one. Defender Rhys Shaw, who leads the league in running bounces, said in the lead up:
“We pride ourselves on our defence and we’re hoping we can stand up this week… Because we know if it doesn’t, we’re going to get blown out of the water. We just have to do what we’ve been doing all year.”
Swans coach John Longmire believes the imperative attitude to win the grand final is:
”You have to make sure your pressure is absolutely elite and for four quarters. You can’t have any lapses in concentration, and you’ve got to take your chances when you get them.”
Josh Kennedy has been the talk of the week with his genealogical ties to his grand final opponents. He averages 29 disposals, seven clearances, five tackles and a goal a game for the season, and almost 28 disposals for his six finals matches. Against Collingwood in the Preliminary Final he had 30 possessions – 19 contested – four marks, five tackles and two crucial goals. Kennedy remarked on that match “On the weekend (against Collingwood) our pressure was right up there and if we can bring that intensity it will go a long way to winning the game.”
Expect Sam Mitchell or Brad Sewell on Kennedy in a crucial duel to go head to head in a battle for clearances.
The All Australian centre half forward in Lance Franklin will match up on the AA centre half back Ted Richards in a contest that will be crucial as to who lifts the cup. Lance Franklin can win the game off his own boot, and is an ominous and irresistible figure in the Hawks forward fifty.
Richards held Buddy goalless for the only time in 2012 in the Swans round five win. After a quiet first three-quarters Franklin let loose with three goals in ten minutes and finished with four for the day when the Hawks toppled Sydney at the SCG. Richards, who concedes four cm in height and 10kg to Franklin, is the No. 1 intercept marker in the competition and No. 2 for intercept possessions, so Buddy will have to be conscious of the offensive outlet provided by the Swans #25.
Cyril Rioli showed that he just needs the barest of opportunities to create goals, and Nick Smith will be given the task of curtailing the livewire forward. Jaryd Roughead will be primed for a big game after being accused of favouring preservation over taking possession against the Crows, while Luke Bruest offers poise and speed.
The clash of the midfield will be a titanic struggle, even more so in the predicted wet weather. Hawthorn have a top class crew of centremen with Sewell, Mitchell, Burgoyne all hitting hot form, and Lewis keen to atone for his game against the crows, where he has vowed to ‘go in harder’. They are capable of quick clearances and effective forward entries with their foot skills, and as their five goal second quarter in round 23 showed, capable of piling on quick points.
Sydney have hard nuts in stalwart Jude Bolton and Luke Parker when subbed in late to get the hard ball, the hand-skills of Hannebery and the classy clearances of Kennendy to get the ball out and quick to their forward line.
Up forward Sydney have the large presence of Goodes, Sam Reid, who while taking some contested grabs, is not hitting the scoreboard, and Tigers discard Mitch Morton who can sneak behind defences for some opportune goals. Roberts-Thompson will most likely be used trying to negate spoiling-king Josh Gison and keep him from coming in third-man up. Isaac Smith will most likely be given the matchup on Lewis Jetta, who is capable of long, freakish goals and precision passes alike.
The Hawks seem to have it all in place, but that also comes with expectation, which almost bought them undone against the Crows. The Swans will need to pressure the Hawks for four quarters and will take great comfort from their round five win and the first quarter of their most recent encounter.
A tough, hard contested battle awaits, with the rainy conditions expected to favour the Swans style of play. Swans by three.
One game remains for Sydney, who humbled a disappointing Collingwood by 26 points on their way to the 2012 AFL Grand Final.
Sydney were switched on from the start, intent on ending their 10 game loosing streak against Collingwood. Their game plan was clear, win the contested ball and move it quickly to their outside runners.
All night the Swans were taking the Collingwood tackles then releasing the handball to a free player which left the Pies exposed.
Josh Kennedy led the way, the big bodied midfielder collected 19 contested possessions and kicked 2 goals. The rest of the Swans midfield was also excellent, the likes of Ryan O’Keefe and Dan Hannebery were too good for the All Australian Collingwood midfield.
On the outside Lewis Jetta was spectacular, he constantly broke the lines and his stunning 90 meter running goal will be remembered as a great finals moment.
Collingwood had few winners on the night. Scott Pendlebury tried to pull his team along with 30 disposals, 10 clearances and 10 tackles. Ben Reid was solid under constant pressure while Harry O’Brien was one of the few Pies that tried to take the game on.
While there were some Pies players that got plenty of the ball, like the rest of the team their disposal let them down. Turnovers not only hurt them on the rebound but it meant that forwards rarely got a clean delivery.
Sydney got away to a fantastic start kicking the first two goals, both of which came from Magpie turnovers out of defense. Dawes hit back only to have the Swans answer with two more including Jetta’s brilliant goal, the Swans inaccuracy was the only thing keeping the Magpies in the game.
Collingwood started the second quarter with much cleaner disposal. A series of accurate short kicks lead to Cloke’s opening goal. The Swans took up the Magpies challenge and started to ramp up the pressure. After Kennedy kicked his second Sydney looked in control.
From there the game descended into a scrap, the constant stoppages suited the Swans whose midfield was on top. But just as in the first quarter the Swans were missing their chances. It took an Adam Goodes goal to end the 10 minute deadlock and give the Swans a 5 goal lead at the half.
Sydney continued their assault after the half, the defining moment came from a switch to Wellingham who instead of taking the tackle then handballing as the Swans had all game, he opted to tap the ball which resulted in a turnover and Jetta’s second goal.
Jetta then kicked his third from a terrible handball from Toovey and the game was looking over. Then in the last minute the Pies put through two goals to raise some doubt.
If Collingwood were any chance they needs the first, and the obliged with the first two. However Sydney were not going to be over run
They stepped up a gear and were assaulting the goals, but yet again couldn’t put through a finisher. It fell to Craig Bird to put the game beyond doubt.
In the last 5 minutes the teams traded goals but it had no bearing on the result. Jude Bolton capped of his 300th game with the Swans last goal to send them into the 2012 Grand 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.
Swans by 4
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)
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
The Sydney Swans have secured a home preliminary final after a comprehensive 29-point win over Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.
The Swans were magnificent in defence, severely restricting Adelaide’s scoring capabilities and rebounding at will as the Swans burned the Crows on the rebound.
Ryan O’Keefe was inspirational for the Swans, racking up 37 disposals (18 contested), 9 clearances, 8 tackles and 2 goal assists in a display of finals greatness. He was well supported by Adam Goodes, who was immaculate in his numerous score involvements and Josh Kennedy who rack up an amazing 10 clearances.
Critical to the Swans aspirations was acclimatising to their hostile environment right from the first bounce.
The opening quarter was played a frenetic pace, with the tempo justifying the Qualifying final billing. Such was the intensity, generally skillful players were constantly found fumbling under immense pressure.
Adam Goodes was the man to break the goal drought to begin them game, running in from 45 metres to silence the local crowd with a important goal to settle in to the contest.
Taylor Walker presence was particularly noticeable, the star forward threatened at times to break the game apart. After missing his first shot on goal, Walker took a strong pack mark, albeit contentious due to Mumford claiming the mark, and managed to cooly go back and slot Adelaide’s first goal for the afternoon.
The quickness of Sydney’s reply was startling, as a immediate clearance from the centre bounce to Sydney resulted in a chest mark inside 50 to Goodes. The champion failed to disappoint, going back to convert both his and Sydney’s second goal for the match.
Sydney’s midfield was excellent in the opening quarter, restricting Adelaide’s star duo in Dangerfield and Thompson to just the combined three effective disposals, while Kennedy and Hannebery were able to damage the Crows going the other way.
The quarter time siren sounded with only the three goals kicked for the match, with the lead in Sydney’s favour by 5 points.
Buoyed by their opening quarter, Sydney capitalised on their momentum with Ben McGlynn managing to find space behind the Adelaide defence to provide the Swans with the opening goal of the quarter two minutes in.
A miss from Bernie Vince up the other end proved costly for the Crows, as Sydney transitioned the ball straight down to their attacking end where Reid managed to complete the move, resulting in another Sydney goal, expanding the lead to 16 points.
Only a few minutes more passed before Mitch Morton marked roughly 45 metres out, directly in front. The Ex Richmond player had no trouble with the set shot, extending the margin out further as Adelaide showed signs of capitulating in the September sun.
Adelaide then begun to find their feet, dominate general player to produce numerous forward forays. It was proving a fruitless task however, as Sydney’s defence was impeccable, constantly cleaning up Adelaide attacks with extreme precision.
The match was taking the form of the old quality v quantity debate, as Adelaide continued to pile on inside 50’s, with Sydney displaying extreme efficiency when it was their turn to turn forward.
Another worrying trend for the Crows was the prominence of Adam Goodes, who seemingly turned every play he was involved in into a scoring opportunity. It came as no surprise when after 10 minutes of the Crows dominating possession with no reward at all for their efforts, a Goodes kick deep in to an empty forward 50 allowed Lewis Jetta to run in for an easy goal, leaving a severe dent in Adelaide’s morale.
Determined not to be run over, captain Nathan Van Berlo took the responsibility for his team, finally booting Adelaide’s second goal for the game, 38 minutes after Walker’s first goal.
With little more than a minute remaining in the quarter, Goodes provided one final display of greatness to end the quarter, kicking his third goal for the half and Sydney’s seventh to provide the Swans with a 25-point half time lead.
The third quarter was a phenomenal quarter, in so much that the skills on display mimicked that of a bottom of the table clash. Adelaide once again were all over the Swans, again failing to capitalise on their opportunities.
Walker looked as if he had broken the drought, only to once again shave the post, his second consecutive miss from a position he would expect to comfortable convert from.
Ted Richards was fantastic for the Swans in defence, inflicting spoils on kicks he had no right to get to.
Dangerfield tried his best to involve himself in the game, though his attempts were proving to be futile, at one point getting run down by Lewis Jetta after taking a few bounces.
With only 1:29 remaining on the clock, Rory Sloane received the luckiest of bounces, with the ball deviating from it’s expected trajectory to leap frog the Swans defender who was leading the chase for the ball, allowing Sloane to kick an easy snap from the goal square to finally break the dead lock and send the local crowd in to near euphoria.
The excitement was quickly quelled though, as Sydney immediately replied in the same manner they have all day, as Morton marked with impressive strength inside 50 to provide the Swans with a late opportunities in the shadows of three quarter time. Morton didn’t disappoint, converting his second goal of the game to take the three quarter time lead to 24 points.
In bitter news for the Swans, Ben McGlynn came straight to the bench with a right hamstring complaint, resulting in him being immediately subbed out of the game, leaving him in tears as he realised his season is likely over.
In complete contrast of the third term, the fourth quarter started with an immediate goal, as Graham Johncock kicked a long goal to ignite the crowd as the Crows clawed back within three goals.
It was an instant impact for the Sydney substitute Luke Parker, with his first kick of the day resulting in a timely goal for the Swans to re-establish their lead.
Ian Callinan once again provided the home crowd with a flicker of hope, bring the margin again back to three goals.
The story of the day proved to be Sydney’s ability to answer every Adelaide challenge, negating Adelaide from scoring consecutive goals for the entire match, even during extended periods of Adelaide dominance.
A Lewis Jetta goal all bar sealed the game for the Swans while a late goal to Josh Kennedy capped off a emphatic victory for the Swans, running out 29-point winners.
Sydney will now march on in to a home preliminary final against one of Collingwood, West Coast or North Melbourne.
It was a bitter end for Adelaide, who will be sweating on late injuries to Dangerfield with a possible fractured jaw from a collision with Jude Bolton and rising star Daniel Talia with what could be a fractured forearm in a seemingly innocuous clash.
The Crows will now host a Friday night semi final next week against the victor of the Geelong v Fremantle elimination final, for a chance to take on Hawthorn in a preliminary final.
WHERE AND WHEN: AAMI Stadium, Saturday September 8, 2.45pm
LAST TIME: Adelaide 15.9 (99) defeated Sydney Swans 14.10 (94) round six, 2012 at the SCG
Although most eyes at this stage of the week seem to be set firmly on Friday night’s Hawthorn and Collingwood duel, there is a titanic rumbling already forming under the grounds of AAMI Stadium. In what promises to be a fierce and intense clash, the Sydney Swans and the Adelaide Crows are set to do battle for a spot in the preliminary final on Saturday afternoon.
It seems that although these two clubs are finally gaining some well earned recognition for outstanding seasons, it could be said that they are still not firmly on the radar of the footballing world. This will all change for one of these sides when the final siren goes.
For fans of hard, uncomprimising football this game is going to be an absolute treat. Sydney are ranked #1 for contested possessions in the AFL, Adelaide #2. Both sides have genuine Brownlow contenders, flashy stars, brilliant goalsneaks and stonewall backlines. Add to this the added tempo, pressure and overall gravitas of finals football and we’re set for a cracker.
Both sides have questions on their formlines coming into the clash. Sydney couldn’t punch at their weight during a powerful Geelong performance at Simonds Stadium, losing them the home ground advantage. That was their second loss in a row. Adelaide have easily accounted for Melbourne and the Gold Coast Suns leading up to the finals, but are teams so far below them really the way to prepare for such an imposing opponent?
Adelaide are favourites for this game, and for good reason. They’ve accounted for the Swans in four of their last five meetings, including a hard fought 5 point victory at the SCG earlier this year. One wouldn’t say that Adelaide have the wood over Sydney, but they know how to play them, even in their down-times. Another huge strike against the Swans is the loss of key defender Heath Grundy, meaning if both of the big Adelaide power-forwards Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker play their defense will be stretched.
That’s not all Sydney has to worry about in their backline. Mature goalsneak Ian Callinan and defender cum forward Graham Johncock both bagged 4 goals last weekend, which will give them confidence leading into the contest. They also have the likes of Jared Petrenko and Jason Porplyzia – noted medium forwards who can kick goals at will given the opportunity. Add to that their goal-kicking midfield, with Patrick Dangerfield averaging a goal a game and centre general Scott Thompson hitting the scoreboard in recent weeks. It all adds up to one big headache.
The Swans can shift Lewis Roberts-Thomson into the backline and will most likely welcome the return of Nick Smith – one of the most unheralded and effective small defenders in the league. Their defense is typically miserly and they don’t often allow big scores. But even if, hypothetically, that part of the game is sorted out, there’s still the issue of what they are to do up forward themselves.
Key forward Sam Reid is tipped to come back, but if he doesn’t their options aren’t promising. Mitch Morton has been absolutely dominating at NEAFL level this year but wasn’t able to clinch a spot when given a chance in the seniors. Tommy Walsh, the Irish forward traded from St Kilda, kicked a solitary goal and was unconvincing in their loss to Geelong last weekend. Roberts-Thomson has crafted a solid forward presence but as mentioned before, will most likely needed down back. Sydney will be praying Reid is fine, and that if he is he has a strong game.
On the plus-side Adam Goodes has been hovering around good form as of late and should be able to hold down the roaming centre half-forward spot, while if Lewis Jetta and an option like Trent Dennis-Lane can fire they do have the ability to kick a winning score.
The midfield battle is going to be brutal and there should be no expectation either of these teams will let up. They rarely have all year and cannot afford to with a week off and a home final on the line. Josh P.Kennedy has gotten back to his amazing form that he found earlier in the season, while Jarrad McVeigh and Kieran Jack are very strong supports. Daniel Hannebery is an interesting case, having come out this week speaking about how he owes his team-mates for his performance in the Swans’ finals campaign last season.
I felt I let a few guys down by not being able to fill my role for the whole game and play the way I wanted to play.
In the back of my mind I was hoping I’d be right, but subconsciously I knew I wasn’t 100 per cent.
It does give you a bit of fire in the belly to want to give back this finals series.
-Daniel Hannebery on ‘letting down’ his team-mates.
Hannebery is in career-best form and this added incentive will hopefully lead to a spectacular performance.
Have Adelaide got it?
On the flip-side, Adelaide know they can match the Swans. Not only have they done it this year, but Patrick Dangerfield just keeps getting better and better. He’s heavily talked about to be thereabouts come Brownlow night and has not dropped off one iota leading into the finals series. Scott Thompson is another Brownlow contender for the Crows who is an accumulator, but a tough, damaging one. In this case the accumulator tag is more of a worrying sign for the Swans rather than the backhanded compliment it sometimes seems to be. Rory Sloane has also been fantastic and adds pace and X-factor to a powerful midfield setup.
Daniel Talia – The recently crowned Rising Star will get his first taste of finals football and will no doubt be drooling at the opportunity. Nicknamed ‘Presti’ by his team-mates for his ability to constantly spoil and shut down opposition forwards, he may prove to be a real handful and will no doubt heavily limit one of the Swans few real forward options.
Adam Goodes – It’s time to shine, Goodesy. He has been slowly working his way back into form but needs to fast track it this week. He needs to provide a presence, kick goals and constantly impact the contest. There’s no ifs or buts about it – the veteran needs to shine.
Adelaide have heard cries of ‘soft draw’ all season. Swans have heard cries of ‘overperforming’ all season. This weekend, one of them will make a preliminary final. With the home ground advantage, powerful forward-line and the Swans missing Grundy, it’s hard to go against Adelaide. But there is no doubt that this one will be an epic until the final siren – the hope for the winner will be that the toll it takes does not make it a pyrrhic victory.
WHERE AND WHEN: Simonds Stadium, Saturday September 1, 1.45pm
TV & RADIO: Fox Footy (live), Channel 7 3pm – ABC 774, 3aw, Triple M
BETTING: Geelong $1.71, Sydney $2.32
WEATHER: Min 6, Max 14 – Cloudy. Scattered showers, easing later in the afternoon. Winds west to southwesterly 20 to 30 km/h tending south to southwesterly and becoming light in the afternoon.
In a round in which we’re spoilt for quality options, the Geelong versus Sydney game on Saturday is most deserving of match of the round status.
Despite a thrilling loss to Hawthorn last week, the Swans are producing the best standard of hard, aggressive football they’ve produced in years. Can they maintain the rage and emulate the intensity we saw against the Hawks, or will there be a letdown after playing so well without any reward?
In contrast Geelong are a champion team who are yet to hit top gear. They should be fresher this week after a comparatively less demanding encounter than Sydney had, however are experienced enough to understand that they must improve on the form of the last fortnight if they are to challenge in September.
The Swans are already assured of the double chance, however the all-important home ground advantage is most likely riding on the result of this match. Presuming Hawthorn defeat West Coast in Melbourne and Adelaide get over the Gold Coast, the equation is simple…win and host Adelaide in week one of the finals, or lose and face the daunting task of travelling to the City of Churches and playing in front of 50,000 hostile Crows supporters.
The biggest challenge to the Sydney game style is usually to restrict the opposition from opening up space. Geelong also being an inside styled unit have not presented such problems to the Swans in their last two encounters, with Sydney taking the points on both occasions.
Importantly the venues of these last two encounters, the SCG this year and Kardinia Park late last year, are two of the smaller playing surfaces in the league. This is perfect for the Swans and will no doubt give them a better opportunity to play the style they prefer than they’ll get if these teams meet in September, where the venue would be the vaster spaces of either ANZ or the MCG.
The ramifications of this contest are a little less clear for Geelong as their percentage is so close to Fremantle and North Melbourne. This much is certain: a win guarantees Geelong a home final first up. A loss however brings with it the very real possibility that they will have to travel to Perth to face the Eagles.
The Cats will welcome back Joel Selwood, Matthew Scarlett and Taylor Hunt, however the most intriguing selection will be the second ruck option. Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke are a physical and in form combination. They are every chance to dominate if Trent West isn’t provided appropriate cover.
Josh Walker is a young, promising forward who has been backing up in the ruck in recent weeks. He has shown potential, however still has a lot of development ahead of him and is likely to be replaced by Orren Stephenson or Nathan Vardy.
Stephenson struggled to hold down a regular spot for much of the year, however provides a mature body and found some fantastic form just prior to missing the last fortnight through injury.
Vardy on the other hand is probably a better ruckman and certainly a better forward than Stephenson, yet is coming off a much longer lay off and is more of a risk. He played 70% game time in the VFL last week and by all reports moved well. Given more time he would be Geelong’s preference of the two, and after all some risks must be taken for a side to win a flag from outside the top four. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
This is a fascinating contest, and is simply too close to call. If the weather remains relatively dry the Sydney key forwards may just have the height to stretch Geelong’s defence, and if the rain is a factor it’s hard to go past the best wet weather team in the land.
If there was ever a game to select as a draw, this would be it.
Saturday afternoon had the SCG hosting the match of the round this week, as the footy world had the rare privilege of witnessing a first versus second clash on the eve of the finals. With both sides looking to sure up home ground advantage for September, the attack on the man and the ball had all of the intensity of a final from the opening bounce.
The high pressure and contested style of footy suited the Swans to a tee in the first quarter, completely negating the Hawks natural game plan of controlling the ball. Craig Bird held Sam Mitchell to just three possessions, as John Longmire exposed Hawthorn’s lack of height in defence by starting Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thompson, Sam Reid and Mike Pyke inside the forward 50.
Josh Kennedy and Daniel Hannerbury were dominating in the clinches as the Swans led the contested possession count 54 to 39 at quarter time, resulting in 18 to 9 inside 50 count and a 26 point lead.
In the second quarter the intensity remained, although the game began to open up as the quarter progressed. Reid and Mumford continued to expose Hawthorn’s lack of tall defenders, and seven minutes in, Isaac Smith finally landed Hawthorn their first goal of the evening. It would be the first of a seven goal quarter for the Hawks, as their midfield led by Shaun Burgoyne began to adapt to the speed of the game and find space.
Lance Franklin after being beaten in several contests by Ted Richards in the first quarter also found another gear, kicking three goals as the Hawks completely turned the match around to be level until Nick Malceski goaled just before the main break.
In the second half the Hawks picked up there they left off, with goals to Paul Puopolo and Liam Shiels early on. The Swans responded with goals to Roberts-Thompson and Goodes, both once again courtesy of marks against significantly shorter opponents.
The footy remained hot throughout the third as Gunston snapped truly, and the stage was set for an epic at three quarter time with the Hawks leading by just four points.
It was hard to imagine it being possible at the time, but if anything the intensity actually lifted in the last quarter. If anyone had any doubts that either of these sides were genuine premiership contenders leading into this clash, all doubts surely must have been removed as the quarter progressed.
Kennedy somehow lifted a gear and his inside work was as good as it gets. Heath Grundy repelled attack after attack, and Jordan Lewis and Brad Sewell were at their uncompromising best.
With just over 2 minutes to go the game had risen to standards worthy of being called the game of the year. The Hawks led by a point….and then the game exploded.
With every kick seemingly under impossible pressure, Ryan O’Keefe somehow found a way to kick an exceptional goal from the pocket to give the Swans the lead. From the clearance the Hawks surged forward which led to Luke Hodge finding Burgoyne 35 metres out. A pressure set shot on goal if there ever was one, and Burgoyne delivered to once again give the Hawks the lead.
With one and a half minutes remaining the Hawks again won the centre clearance, this time resulting in Sewell launching a long bomb for a goal to finally decide this epic contest.
By the time the final siren sounded, the standard of footy from both sides was more than worthy of being labelled the game of the year. More accurately, this was a classic. Both sides were brilliant in what turned out to be a more than memorable seven point victory to the Hawks.
3 – Josh Kennedy
2 – Shaun Burgoyne
1 – Jordan Lewis
GOALS Sydney Swans: Goodes, Mumford, O’Keefe, Reid 2, Jack, Kennedy,
Malceski, McGlynn, McVeigh, Roberts-Thomson Hawthorn: Franklin 4, Burgoyne 3, Suckling, Puopolo 2, Gunston,
Sewell, Shiels, Smith
BEST Sydney Swans: O’Keefe, Goodes, Richards, Kennedy, Hannebery, Grundy Hawthorn: Burgoyne, Lewis, Birchall Franklin, Hodge, Young, Sewell
INJURIES Sydney Swans: TBC Hawthorn: TBC
SUBSTITUTES Sydney Swans: Lewis Roberts-Thomson replaced by Mitch Morton at
three-quarter time Hawthorn: Brendan Whitecross replaced by Xavier Ellis in the fourth quarter
Umpires: Donlon, McBurney, Margetts Official crowd: 31,167 at SCG