Swans' Premiership Defence On The Line

Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Phil Hillyard
Jude Bolton could be lining up for his last AFL game. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Phil Hillyard
Last Five Meetings

Round 14, 2013, Swans 8.17 (65) d Carlton 5.13 (43) at the SCG
Round 19, 2012, Swans 14.9 (93) d Carlton 10.11 (71) at Etihad Stadium
Round 13, 2011, Carlton 15.10 (100) d Swans 10.6 (66) at Etihad Stadium
Round 6, 2011, Carlton 12.15 (87) d Swans 10.11 (71) at the SCG
Elimination Final, 2010, Swans 14.15 (99) d Carlton 13.16 (94) at ANZ Stadium


Form

     Rd 20       Rd 21       Rd 22       Rd 23       F Wk 1 
Sydney    L  W  L  L  L
Carlton    L  W  L  W  W

What was a bumpy run in to the finals has now blown in to something more in Sydney after the Swans were smacked by 54 points in the first qualifying final by Hawthorn last Friday night. The scores were level at half-time but the Hawks put on the after burners in the premiership quarter, and in the meantime, showed the reigning premier is a long way behind where it was this time last year. The Swans have now lost four of their last five, have lost their midfield run, and lost their ability to post a score (they’ve kicked ten or less goals in three of those defeats).

Veteran Adam Goodes was meant to provide a spark on his expected return this weekend, but after missing the past three months with a knee injury, Sydney coach John Longmire put a line through the dual Brownlow Medallist for the season after he pulled up sore late in the week.

Carlton also has its injury concerns with ruckman Matthew Kreuzer pulling out on Friday after being named to play due to a lower limb injury. In good news for the Blues, emergency Brock McLean trained strongly and could be a late inclusion. Carlton is riding its luck after earning eighth place when Essendon was disqualified from participating in the finals, and last Sunday for the second straight week it stormed home to clinch a narrow victory; this time it was arch rival Richmond, while the week before it was a one-point nailbiter against Port Adelaide.


Key Men

(Swans) Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke – With no Matthew Kreuzer, Sydney has a massive advantage in the ruck with Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke going up against Robert Warnock. In fact, with the likes of Kurt Tippett and Jesse White up forward, the Swans have a big height dominance all over the ground. It looked top heavy last week but it is a clear point of difference against what’s looking like a slightly undersized Blues outfit now. Mumford and Pyke were quiet last week against the serviceable David Hale and Max Bailey combination. This week they need to make mincemeat of Warnock and give their midfield first use of the Sherrin.

(Blues) Chris Judd – A medial strain meant Chris Judd was no certainty to take on the Tigers last week, but without him it’s unlikely the Blues would be in the second week of the finals. He was immense in the second half in his first game in a month, collecting 25 disposals and a goal. He probably can’t be effective across four quarters, but a player of his talent and experience doesn’t need to be to have an effect on the contest. He averages more touches per game against Sydney than any other team in the competition apart from Collingwood.


Prediction

These teams were miles apart a few weeks ago, but Sydney’s form slump and a couple of wins against the odds from Carlton mean this match looks to be a much tighter contest than it would have been. The fact of the matter is, too, the Swans don’t play as well at ANZ Stadium as they do at the SCG. Take out predictable wins over GWS, and the Bloods’ record at ANZ is 4-7 in its last 11 starts. The Swans stumbled over the line by 22 points in the slosh at the Cricket Ground last time they met in round 14, but it was a battle, at times. Prior to that, Sydney had lost on ten straight occasions to Mick Malthouse-coached teams. Sydney’s second half performances have been awful the past few weeks, so it Carlton can keep it close then it has shown it can run down teams at the back end of games. Swans by 12 points

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