Battle Of The Bridge

Image courtesy of www.heraldsun.com.au
Adam Goodes is set for his 15th season in Swans colours. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last 2 Matches

Round 14, 2012 – Sydney Swans 100 d GWS Giants 37
Round 1, 2012 – Sydney Swans 132 d GWS Giants 38


Sydney hasn’t encountered any troubled water in the Battle of the Bridge so far, but the Giants should be a slightly different proposition in their second season, although if Gold Coast’s effort in its second year should teach us anything, it’s not to set expectations too high for these young teams. As far as round one match-ups go, they don’t come much tougher than taking on the reigning premier.

For a player picked at 57 in the draft, Alex Johnson has certainly repaid the Swans in spades over his first two years, and he’ll be sorely missed in defence this year after sustaining a second-ending knee injury in the NAB Cup. His ability to pick off entries in to Sydney’s defensive 50 and his tackling intensity were features of the league’s most miserly backline unit in 2012. Opening the season with matches against the Giants and Suns gives John Longmire an opportunity to find a replacement across the halfback line.

For a team light on in terms of experience, the Giants will miss the calming influence of Chad Cornes who is out for an indefinite period with a knee injury. The Giants conceded 18 goals per game last season, so the inclusions of veteran defender Stephen Gilham should help.  After seeing so many debutants last year, you can add another two to the Giants' list with 2012 top draft Lachie Whitfield starting in the midfield while No. 3 choice Lachie Plowman named on the interchange bench.


Key Men

(GWS) Jonathon Patton – In 14 games last year the Giants failed to crack the 60-mark and on five occasions they could only muster a score in the 30s. Jeremy Cameron was a revelation up forward kicking 29 goals in 16 matches, but he desperately needs help. At 197cm and with a rare blend of power and athleticism for a teenager, Jonathon Patton should be able to lend a hand. He played just seven games in his debut season, but if the 2011 No. 1 draft pick has been able to build a partnership with Cameron over the off-season, it will offer the Giants’ talented midfield another useful target.

(Sydney) Kieran Jack – Last season Kieran Jack just exploded; he averaged five more disposals per match and went from kicking just six goals in 2011 to 27 last campaign. Not surprisingly for the son of one of rugby league’s great fullbacks, his tackling pressure is as good as you’ll find in the AFL. He picked up five Brownlow votes across the two games against the Giants, so they’ll need to work out a way to shut him down. He had 63 disposals and 16 inside 50s in the two derby matches, so good luck to Kevin Sheedy and Leon Cameron working that one out.


Prediction

The Swans started slightly flat in their round one clash with the Giants last season and appeared to go through the motions in their 63-point win . Given this will be the team’s first match in front of the Sydney faithful – even though they won’t unfurl the premiership flag until next week, as this is a Giants home game – you would expect they’ll come out all guns blazing to show GWS which is the dominant outfit in the Harbour City. Swans by 72 points

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