- Jul 9, 2015
- AFL Club
- Other Teams
- Sydney Sixers, Gold City Royals
Round 11 sees Sydney return to GMHBA Stadium which has been a happy hunting ground in recent years. However, the equation appears to be dramatically different in 2019. After both teams effectively ended their 2018 in the same spot, with disappointing losses in the elimination final the fortunes of the Swans and the Cats have headed in polar opposite directions in 2019.
Geelong Cats 2019 Season
Geelong sit on top of the ladder after 10 rounds with a hefty percentage as they have managed to find a good spread of even contributions across the board from experienced leaders like Tom Hawkins to new emerging stars like Tim Kelly to young kids coming into the AFL like Jordan Clark and Gryan Miers all effectively playing a role in a winning team. They started the season with a gritty win against last season's grand finalists Collingwood at the MCG before smashing Melbourne and getting over Adelaide interstate. A close loss to GWS at home would be the only hiccup with the Cats recording wins by 4 goals or more afterwards including a 58 point smashing of reigning premiers West Coast. So far this year, the Cats have generally won the contested ball battle - on average 13.8 more than opponent and only had less contested possessions in one game in 2019; the loss against GWS. Their delivery is quite direct and this has provided opportunities for some dangerous forward options in Tom Hawkins, Gary Ablett and Gary Rohan all of whom have had 20 or more goals so far this year.
Sydney Swans 2019 Season
There hasn't been too much joy for Swans fans in 2019 with the opening 10 rounds only yielding 3 victories as the Swans struggle through a transition phase. In a frustrating pattern, it seems to be the theme for the early games of 2019 that the Swans fail to put together a complete four-quarter performance despite showing impressive signs for patches throughout games often falling short by margins between 3-5 goals. The drop off in 2019 is not exactly unexpected, many of the main causes are just problems in 2018 that are carried over coupled with some other circumstances accentuating them. The inside midfield depth is still weak compared to other teams as the Swans consistently concede the contested ball count, Sinclair while his endeavour is indisputable is often outclassed in the ruck battle. As a result, more often Swans games are played in their defence, and with 6-6-6 the inability to start a man behind the ball has compromised the capacity to quell momentum and intercept. That being said, the past three weeks have shown promise with two close wins and a competitive outing against Collingwood. The entire team young and old demonstrated pressure across the ground and were able to provide cleaner delivery to forwards while the young pairing of Aliir and Melican along with Rampe have been organised down back regularly winning contests. The likes of Jordan Dawson, Oliver Florent and Nick Blakey have emerged as well to provide some exciting signs.
Possible Ins & Outs
On the Geelong side, Gary Ablett Jr was dealt a 1 game ban for the clenched fist strike in the game against Gold Coast. He accepted the ban which was the first of his career so he'll miss the game. Potentially coming in to replace him is star mid Patrick Dangerfield who will need to get through training during the week to prove his fitness. Cameron Guthrie also reportedly sustained an injury last week and will need to be tested for fitness during the week.
For the Swans, Kennedy will be out for lengthy period after a medial ligament strain from the Pies game. This is a significant blow to the Sydney midfield that is also missing Zak Jones. However, George Hewett was cleared for this week after a concussion in last week's game. Possibly coming into the Swans side could be Dan Menzel to debut against his old home after having two runs in the NEAFL, and kicking 5 goals in the latest. Jarrad McVeigh will also be tested for fitness during training this week and could potentially return to add some experience in Kennedy's absence.
Players To Watch
Kelly has been in such a rich vein of form in 2019 that he's put himself firmly among the conversation for the Brownlow Medal. Geelong's decision in the off-season to hold him to his contract looks well and truly vindicated as Kelly continues to elevate himself as a ball magnet, clearance machine and also a threat up forward with an ability to kick goals himself as well as set up teammates. Along with the Cats midfield unit that has been consistently firing, Kelly has been leading the pack in an impressive group that features the likes of Dangerfield and Selwood. As of Round 10, he is leading the AFLCA Player of the Year Award.
The Sydney co-captain started off the season slowly but has worked himself back to some of his best form in recent weeks. His 33 disposal game in the Round 8 win against Essendon polled a perfect 10 votes in the AFLCA and has exhibited the trademark grunt and aggression at the contest. In Kennedy's absence and given Heeney's limited fitness confining him to the forward line, Parker was required to shoulder a heavier load and has handled it admirably gathering 21 contested possessions against a strong Magpies midfield when Hewett and Kennedy spent an extended portion of the game off. This week Parker will no doubt be expected to lead from the front in the midfield in a huge challenge again.
Questions To Ponder
Sam Reid was on fire last week, marking everything that came his way and kicking perfectly accurately for goal. Can he back it up again this week and build some consistent form?
Has Dane Rampe read up on the laws of the game and will his bizarre antics be a thing of the past?
Ryan Clarke has shut down Shaun Higgins and Steele Sidebottom in consecutive weeks, can he add Tim Kelly or Mitch Duncan to his list of scalps and sure up a spot in the team?
Every now and then, Callum Sinclair pulls out a game where he plays like a colossus in the ruck. One of which was last year in the corresponding game when he dominated Rhys Stanley. Can he repeat the feat and give our mids an edge?
Will we find a way to balance delivering the ball to our forwards in an unpredictable manner while making the best use of Buddy up forward?
For us to get up in this game given the respective exposed form of the two teams would take a lot of fortune. Perhaps a miraculous level of it. Geelong have been the best attack and defence in the league to date, even without Ablett the delivery to their forwards is efficient and with Gary Rohan and Tom Hawkins in form and playing with confidence their front half will still be very dangerous for Rampe and co. down back. Expect that with their superior midfield depth most of the game will be played in their front half, they will have a huge contested ball differential in their favour, along with inside 50s - even more so probable if Dangerfield returns and we are missing Kennedy (whose last quarter heroics were much of the reason we won last year).
However, over the past few weeks we've been quite consistent throughout the game in terms of applying pressure to the ball carrier and forcing some turnovers that we are able to intercept. Most of our forwards Papley, McCartin, Reid and Blakey have their confidence up in recent weeks and Buddy is Buddy so expect that when we do go forward we'll kick some opportunistic goals. If Clarke manages to continue doing his role well and blankets someone like Kelly and minimise the midfield discrepancy things could go down to the wire again. But I reckon what will likely happen is that we remain competitive for most of the game through pressure and some great individual performances but Geelong will get on a roll for a short patch to put a gap on us.
Tipping Cats by 29.