Premiership Hopefuls Can Gain Finals Edge

Source: Hearald Sun/heraldsun.com.au
Joel Selwood booted four goals last weekend. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Five Matches

Round 4, 2013 – Geelong 124 d Sydney 103 at SCG
Round 23, 2012 – Geelong 112 d Sydney 78 at Skilled Stadium
Round 13, 2012 – Sydney 80 d Geelong 74 at SCG
Round 23, 2011 – Sydney 99 d Geelong 86 at Skilled Stadium
Round 4, 2011 – Geelong 81 d Sydney 54 at SCG


Form

     Rd 17       Rd 18       Rd 19       Rd 20       Rd 21   
Geelong    L  W  L  W  W
Sydney   W  W  W  L  W

Much like Hawthorn the night before, Geelong flexed its premiership muscle last Saturday night when it systematically destroyed the hometown West Coast Eagles. The Cats allowed their opponents just two goals to the main break, and the 66-point margin almost flattered the Eagles. After recent losses to Adelaide and North Melbourne, it was the type of performance expected from a genuine contender just a couple of weeks out from the finals.

Sydney scored a predictably easy win over St Kilda by 59 points in round 21. It was just the tonic for the Swans who looked a tad sluggish the week before in a home loss to the Magpies at ANZ Stadium. That’s now seven wins in eight matches for the Bloods, who finish the year with back-to-back clashes with the top two.

After a long layoff, triple premiership winner Paul Chapman gets his first crack in the best 22 with three weeks in the VFL under his belt. Tom Hawkins is also back for the blockbuster clash after sitting out the trip to Perth due to back issues. Sydney veteran Jude Bolton has been rested due to illness with impressive rookie Tom Mitchell coming back in to the side.


Key Men

(Cats) Joel Selwood – With Tom Hawkins out of the line-up with an ongoing back issue, Joel Selwood led all Geelong goalkickers with four against the Eagles. Steve Johnson is the Cats’ best playmaker in the middle, but Selwood is the gutsiest and if he’s kicking goals playing out of the centre then it adds yet another dimension to one of the most exciting teams to watch in the competition.

(Swans) Josh Kennedy – There’s little doubt Josh Kennedy does his best work in tight, and the last clash between these teams was a shootout which didn’t suit him at all, and his influence was limited. He was back to his best against the Saints at the weekend racking up a monster 38 touches, and if Sydney can turn this in to a more rugged affair then he will no doubt be in the thick of it.


Prediction

The teams have split their last four matches, but prior to that Geelong had beaten the Swans on nine consecutive occasions. The two times Sydney has been able to put a halt to the Cats’ dominance were when the Bloods stopped the scoreboard from ticking over; an 80-74 victory at the SCG in 2012 which came after a 99-86 win at Simonds Stadium at the end of 2011. While Sydney matched Geelong blow-for-blow in their previous encounter this season – the teams racked up 15 goals in the opening quarter alone – the Cats showed they’re almost in a league of their own when it comes to playing free-flowing, rebound footy eventually getting up by 21 points. Kurt Tippett has kicked 17 goals in his past three games, but there are signs the Swans are becoming a little one-dimensional going forward. Harry Taylor kept Coleman Medal hope Josh Kennedy goalless at the weekend and if he does a job on Tippett then the Swans will be relying on midfield domination to keep them in the game. Geelong by 12 points

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