MEGA-PREVIEW: Swans vs. GIANTS Elimination Final
WHERE AND WHEN: SCG, Saturday, September 8, 4.20pm
The second Sydney derby final will be another massive occasion, this time at the SCG, and the Swans will be buoyed by being on their home deck. Thanks to the pre-finals bye week, both teams will be boosted by some stars returning from injury – it’s just a question of how many each side can get back. The Giants lost a close one to Sydney in round 22 at Spotless Stadium and after finishing the season poorly against Melbourne, the momentum they had built in the second half of the season might be tough to recover. The Swans also lost heading into the elimination final, but they were brave against Hawthorn, without Lance Franklin and Luke Parker, and weren’t far away from causing an upset. The rivalry is very real between these two sides, and with the loser done for 2018, the intensity of this match-up could see it become a fiery encounter from the opening bounce.
WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
Round nine: Sydney 16.7 (103) d Giants 12.15 (87) at the SCG
The Giants had more clearances, inside 50s, tackles and contested possessions, but wasted too many chances in front of goal. Phil Davis kept Lance Franklin goalless until late in the final term when the Swan booted two quick ones to seal the game.
Round 21: Sydney 11.14 (80) d Giants 8.12 (60) at Spotless Stadium
The Davis-Franklin match-up was pivotal again, with the GWS co-captain well on top until he was injured in the second term. Franklin kicked four of his five goals once Davis had been shifted forward, as the Swans ran over the top of the home side.
LAST FIVE TIMES
R22, 2018, Sydney 11.14 (80) d Giants 8.12 (60) at Spotless Stadium
R3, 2018, Sydney 16.7 (103) d Giants 12.15 (87) at the SCG
R17, 2017, Sydney 14.12 (96) d Giants 12.11 (83) at Spotless Stadium
R5, 2017, Giants 15.15 (105) d Sydney 9.9 (63) at the SCG
QF1, 2016, Giants 12.19 (91) d Sydney 7.13 (55) at ANZ Stadium
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. The Swans kept Lachie Whitfield to 15 and 17 possessions in two matches this year, well down on his average of 26.4. The running defender will get tagged again.
2. With Sam Reid injured, Isaac Heeney has been given the task of going behind the ball when needed and has done it brilliantly with his cool head and clean hands a feature.
3. Ruckman Callum Sinclair will get physical with GWS big man Rory Lobb, who has struggled with that aspect of his new role this year.
1. If the home side finds themselves with an extra man in defence, Nick Haynes will take on the job. He’s an outstanding intercept mark and reads the play well.
2. When the Giants really test the Swans, who lack leg speed through the midfield, their spread from defence is frenetic. The ‘Orange Tsunami’ must come in full force.
3. One on one inside 50, Toby Greene is just about the best player in the game so the Giants will try to ensure that he’s isolated wherever possible.
THE SIX POINTS
1. The Swans led at each change in round three and ran out comfortable winners thanks to 22 disposals, 10 marks and two goals from Lance Franklin. In round 22 the Swans trailed by 12 points at the final change before kicking six goals to one to run over the top of the Giants.
2. The Giants finished the home and away season as the best clearance team, averaging 39.6 per game thanks to Callan Ward, who is ranked fourth, and Stephen Coniglio (11th). Sydney was ninth for clearances.
3. The teams have met once previously in finals: the 2016 first qualifying final with the Giants causing the upset by 36 points. Sydney has won three of its past five finals, the Giants have lost three of five in total.
4. Sydney has been impressive in elimination finals recently, winning their past four since 2008. In total they’ve played eight finals at the SCG for seven wins. GWS will be playing in its first elimination final.
5. The Swans are the most experienced team of the eight 2018 finalists with a combined 303 finals, led by Jarrad McVeigh (27) and Lance Franklin (23). The Giants have 143 games of finals experience.
6. Sydney’s two highest ranked stars on the Schick Official AFL Player Ratings, Lance Franklin (7th) and Luke Parker (15th), will both be fit to return for the elimination final.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY
John Longmire on Franklin and Parker: “They’ll both do their own separate plans. Both are important players for us, Lance has already had a jog on the treadmill and pulled up quite well, and he’ll do a bit more on Friday, and ‘Parks’ is similar to that.”
Leon Cameron on his injured stars: “I don’t think you can play five or six (of them) – that’s probably flirting with it a bit. The Swans are a powerful team and they run hard to the end and you always have to go to the wire, but we’ll look at it and see what the best mix is to take them on.”
IT’S A BIG WEEK FOR…
GWS defender Lachie Whitfield hasn’t been able to influence either match-up against the Swans this season, and he must find a way to break free because the defensive attention will come his way again.
PREDICTION: Giants by five points