Swans In Tip-Top Shape

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Sarah Reed/Sunday Mail
Kurt Tippett kicked two goals on debut for the Swans. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Sarah Reed/Sunday Mail
Last Five Matches

Round 19, 2012 – Sydney 93 d Carlton 71 at Etihad Stadium
Round 13, 2011 – Carlton 100 d Sydney 66 at Etihad Stadium
Round 6, 2011 – Carlton 87 d Sydney 71 at SCG
Elimination Final, 2010 – Sydney 99 d Carlton 94 at ANZ Stadium
Round 16, 2010 – Sydney 107 d Carlton 68 at Etihad Stadium


Form

     Rd 9       Rd 10       Rd 11       Rd 12       Rd 13   
Sydney   W  W  W  B  L
Carlton   W  W  L  L  B

Plenty has been made of North Melbourne being the hard-luck story in the AFL this season, but spare a thought for the Blues . After going down by five points to Essendon and then 15 to Hawthorn a week later in round 12, Carlton has now lost six matches by 17 points or less. It’s an unenviable record that could cost them later in the season, and it doesn’t get any easier this week as the Blues head north to take on Sydney .

Ordinarily this would be a tough enough match, but after the in-form Swans were shocked by Port Adelaide last Saturday, you would imagine John Longmire’s team will be hell-bent on atoning for that loss. The Swans have lost just once in Sydney this season, and prior to coming off the bye against Port, they were in ominous form after easily disposing of Collingwood, Essendon and Adelaide in consecutive weeks.

The Bloods won’t have veteran star Adam Goodes this week after he injured his posterior cruciate ligament in Adelaide, a problem which could see him spend a few weeks watching from the stands. Andrejs Everitt comes in along with youngster Brandon Jack. Pacy Chris Yarran returns for the Blues after he was dropped by Mick Malthouse last week.  


Key Men

(Swans) Josh Kennedy – In a losing team on Saturday, Josh Kennedy was immense for Sydney. He had 31 touches and his usual seven clearances, and his 22 contested possessions were a round high, but he is an even more effective player within the tight confines of the Sydney Cricket Ground. If the game gets bogged down then Kennedy comes in to his own with his bullocking work around the stoppages.

(Blues) Andrew Walker – Considering it’s the first time he has played meaningful minutes across halfback, the fact Andrew Walker was in most pundits’ All-Australian teams at the halfway point of the season gives you an idea of how effective he has been. One knock, though is that he has been far less prominent in away matches, especially the two he has played interstate against West Coast and Brisbane. Given Sydney’s ability to play hard ball, if necessary, Walker’s ability to break the lines and deliver cleanly from halfback will be required if Carlton is to open the game up.


Prediction

Sydney had a stranglehold on Carlton in the first decade of the 21st Century winning 12 straight. Further to that, the Swans collected 10 wins in a row in Sydney against the Blues, prior to their round six defeat at the SCG in 2011. The loss of skipper Marc Murphy to a fractured cheekbone is massive; the on-baller has averaged 25 touches and seven tackles over his last four appearances against the Bloods. Being down on midfield strength is the last thing you need against this outfit, even with so many premiership stars out. Much will depend on how Carlton can handle the pressure - the Swans average 75 tackles per game compared to Carlton’s 61 – and whether they can break the game open at all. It wasn’t an ideal start in the red and white for Kurt Tippett last week, despite his early goal, and he’ll be desperate to get a win in his first appearance in front of the Sydney faithful, and how the Blues would love a big man of his calibre to complement Jarrad Waite . The Swannies will be better for the run after coming off the bye. Sydney by 18 points .

Click here to bet on AFL Round 14 matches