Where and When: Etihad Stadium, Saturday May 26th, 4:40pm
Last Time: Sydney 12.10.82 d St.Kilda 8.9.56, Elimination Final, 2011 at Etihad Stadium
TV: Fox Footy (live)
Radio: SEN, ABC 774, 3aw, Triple M
The Saturday twilight game sees Sydney travelling to Etihad Stadium to take on the Saints, in a fixture that could prove to be critical for both sides.
The Swans are sitting 6-2 and fighting to stay in touch with the top four in the absence of their two big guns in Adam Goodes and Shane Mumford, whilst the Saints currently sit a game out of the eight with a 4-4 record.
St.Kilda almost pulled off a miracle comeback in Perth last week, after trailing by 49 points at the half they surged to get within a couple of goals against the Eagles. It was a courageous showing by the Saints, particularly having lost ruckman Rhys Stanley early in the match, however they will need to back it up after a six day break and neither of their first two ruck choices available.
The Swans on the other hand had just about the easiest lead up to this encounter possible – a nice, easy win against a fairly soft Melbourne, with an all-important extra day of rest and recovery.
Expect to see this game largely won and lost in the middle. The Saints’ ruck injuries find them in a position where they must take from their forward and back lines in the hope of being competitive, with Justin Koschitzke and Jason Blake to share the hit-out duties. Far from an ideal situation, this reduces their fire power and may leave them stretched for height in defense at various stages.
Both sides have fantastically performed midfields thus far in 2012. For Sydney it’s Josh Kennedy leading the way, along with fellow hard nuts Craig Bird, Jude Bolton, Daniel Hannerbery and Kieren Jack. For the Saints, the polish of Leigh Montagna and Nick Dal Santo should compliment the inside work of Clinton Jones and 250 gamer Lenny Hayes.
The Swans forward line also provides a point of interest. Sydney lead the league with an average of 59 inside 50’s per game in 2012, however sit a lowly 15th for conversion once inside. Their midfielders and small forwards have been damaging most weeks, however the inability of the key forwards to stand up has been frustrating for John Longmire.
Tommy Walsh looked promising against weak opposition in his first game for the Swans last week, however the talented Sam Reid has only delivered five goals so far this season. Expect to see Lewis Roberts-Thompson swing forward when Blake moves from the Saints backline in an attempt to stretch them for height.
Nick Riewoldt vs Ted Richards
Richards continues to make life difficult for the league’s big name forwards with little fuss. His timing for the spoil remains under rated by most, however Riewoldt’s running power is always a potent weapon. Expect Riewoldt to push up high and run hard back into space, rather than allow Richards to run and spoil from behind the contest.
Clinton Jones vs Josh Kennedy
Kennedy has been the straw stirring the drink for the Swans all year with his contested ball winning ability, however his hard running, marking inside 50 and ability to hit the scoreboard is what makes him elite. Clint Jones will have his hands full, and will have a big say on the result with this match up.
Kieren Jack vs Leigh Montagna
Rather than a hard tag, expect Jack to run with Montagna with the goal of cutting down Montagna’s uncontested possession count. When the stoppages occur however, Jack will play an attacking role before re-focusing his defensive attention to Montagna.
A fascinating match up which should provide for some entertaining, high intensity football. As with their meeting during last year’s finals series, the Swans will prove too strong overall.
Sydney by 25 points.
B: Jason Gram, Sam Gilbert, Jason Blake
HB: Sean Dempster, James Gwilt, Jarryn Geary
C: Jamie Cripps, Lenny Hayes, Brendon Goddard
HF: Jack Steven, Nick Riewoldt, David Armitage
F: Stephen Milne, Tom Simpkin, Leigh Montagna
Foll: Justin Koschitzke, Nick Dal Santo, Clinton Jones
IC: Farren Ray, Arryn Siposs, Ahmed Saad, Terry Milera
EMG: Raphael Clarke, Adam Schneider, Beau Wilkes
In: James Gwilt, Arryn Siposs
Out: Rhys Stanley (Hamstring), Beau Wilkes
B: Nicholas Smith, Ted Richards, Rhyce Shaw
HB: Nick Malceski, Heath Grundy, Martin Mattner
C: Lewis Jetta, Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh
HF: Ryan O’Keefe, Tommy Walsh, Daniel Hannebery
F: Ben McGlynn, Sam Reid, Lewis Roberts-Thomson
Foll: Mike Pyke, Josh P. Kennedy, Jude Bolton
IC: Craig Bird, Trent Dennis-Lane, Luke Parker, Alex Johnson
EMG: Jesse White, Andrejs Everitt, Tony Armstrong