Swans Set For More Smooth Sailing

Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Phil Hillyard
Jude Bolton is the heart and soul of Sydney's line-up. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Phil Hillyard
Last Five Meetings

Round 15, 2012 – Sydney Swans 110 d Brisbane Lions 63 (SCG)
Round 24, 2011 – Sydney Swans 119 d Brisbane Lions 67 (SCG)
Round 11, 2011 – Sydney Swans 116 d Brisbane Lions 51 (Gabba)
Round 22, 2010 – Sydney Swans 106 d Brisbane Lions 68 (Gabba)
Round 6, 2010 – Sydney Swans 107 d Brisbane Lions 87 (SCG)


Form

     Rd 1       Rd 2       Rd 3       Rd 4       Rd 5   
Sydney   W  W  W  L  W
Brisbane   L  L  W  L  W

It has been some time since Brisbane was even competitive in AFL’s answer to rugby league’s State of Origin. One of the big reasons why is that the Lions have struggled to break down the Swans’ miserly defence. Brisbane hasn’t even passed 70 in its last four starts against Sydney, and given the Lions’ struggles in front of goal so far this season, it wouldn’t surprise to see the Bloods keep them to a low score once again.

The Swans are one week away from their grand final rematch against Hawthorn, but it would be unlike this side to be looking a game ahead. Lewis Roberts-Thompson is out for the next two months with a knee injury, which leaves John Longmire without a player who swing between the forward and defensive 50s, but the Swans already have plenty of size to cover his loss.

Michael Voss has resisted the temptation to rush veteran midfielder Simon Black back in to the side. He does, however, regain rebounding defender Pearce Hanley who will add some much-needed pace to the Lions’ line-up.


Key Men

(Swans) Jude Bolton – The Lions have struggled against the Swans in recent season for a number of reasons, not least of which is their inability to handle the pressure from their hard-bodied midfielders at stoppages. The young Brisbane mids have looked like powder-puffs at times against the Swans’ unit, and the man who creates defensive pressure better than anyone is Jude Bolton. The most prolific tackler in AFL history has been spending more and more time up forward the past couple of years, and kicked four goals against North Melbourne in round 3, but in the hard slog in Wellington last week he managed his usual high tackle count. With rain predicted in Sydney on Sunday, he could be Brisbane’s worst nightmare in the clinches.

(Lions) Tom Rockliff – Michael Voss played Tom Rockliff increasingly across half-forward towards the end of last season, but he has spent the majority of 2013 in the midfield. He has topped the 30-possession mark three times, including last weekend’s match against Melbourne where he racked up 34 touches. He hasn’t reached anywhere near those numbers in his matches against Sydney, but then again, neither have any of his midfield mates. With his fellow vice-captain Daniel Rich gone for the next eight weeks it is time for Rockliff to stand up and show he is more than just a stat-builder.


Prediction

Brisbane struggled to shake the shocking Demons last Sunday, and even when they got 40-odd points ahead, couldn’t completely put the visitors away. It doesn’t auger well for a battle against the reigning premier. The Swans are chugging along at the moment and still waiting for Lewis Jetta and Sam Reid to rediscover their touch, but a soft draw has helped them ease in to their title defence. Especially at the SCG, it is hard to see anywhere on the ground where the Lions might be able to get the upper hand. Swans by 49 points

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