Sydney Looks To Break Pies Streak

Picture: Anthony Reginato/
Josh Kennedy will lead the Swans' midfield against the 'Pies. Image courtesy of Reginato
It’s hard to believe a side as consistent as Sydney has been over the past few seasons has managed to lose 11 straight matches to the one team, even if that outfit is Collingwood . In fact, the last time the Swans beat the Magpies was 2005, coincidentally when the Bloods won their first flag in 72 years. The teams’ preliminary final will be played at ANZ Stadium, which is longer than the Sydney Cricket Ground, but not as wide. Regardless of the dimensions, the ‘Pies have won the past seven encounters between the teams there.

The formline points to a Collingwood victory, but the effect of playing six days after their absorbing contest against West Coast can’t be underestimated. 21 of the past 24 preliminary finals have been won by the team that has had the benefit of the week off. Nathan Buckley’s side has won two and lost three this year when they’ve had a short break, but they've had the benefit of playing their past three matches at the MCG.

There is so much quality in the middle in this game, with Josh Kennedy , Kieren Jack and Ryan O’Keefe going head-to-head with Dane Swan , Dayne Beams and Scott Pendlebury – not to mention countless other players in both sides that will spend time on the ball. The Eagles had Scott Selwood running with Beams in their semi-final, but even one of the best taggers in the competition couldn’t keep the Queenslander quiet, as he finished with 30 disposals and a whopping ten clearances. The Swans will need to limit his effectiveness, but the same can be said for the other members of Collingwood’s engine room.

After manfully battling against the Eagles’ twin towers last week, Darren Jolly now comes up against his former protégé, Mike Pyke, and the Swans’ number one ruckman Shane Mumford. The ‘Pies won the clearances last week, and if they can stop the likes of Josh Kennedy getting his hands on the ball first, they’ll go a long way to sealing a spot in the grand final. Kennedy had 40 touches in the round 20 match between the teams, but he has averaged just 26 disposals per game at ANZ Stadium since 2010. Compare this to the SCG where he was in danger of picking up leather poisoning at times this year, racking up almost 29 touches per game.

Where it Will be Won – The Magpies had the better of the game last week, but it still took three goals in a matter of minutes from Dale Thomas to break it open. While they won’t be doing the grunt work in the middle, it could come down to a few moments of magic from livewire forwards like Andrew Krakouer and Lewis Jetta . In what’s more than likely going to be a match played in tight, the speed and creativity of one of those two could just be the difference in a close encounter.

Prediction – It will be difficult for Collingwood to match their intensity from last week for a full four quarters, especially given the short break and Sydney’s week off. The Swans have won 17 first quarters this year, so if they get off to a good start, it will be hard for the Magpies to haul them in. Sydney 1-24