Sydney and GWS meet for the 15th time in a rivalry that was once manufactured but now is one of the most spirited in the competition. Both sides have struggled with injury throughout the year that combined with a few disappointing defeats conspired to prevent them from making the top four. It all makes for an appetising sudden death contest at the SCG.
Sydney has prevailed in the last two matches between the two sides to end a three match Giants streak. The Swans hold a decisive edge in the overall head to head with 10 wins from the 14 matches and at the SCG they are even more dominant, losing just one of the six matches there.
Big Game Experience
With 303 games of combined experience, the Swans are the most finals hardened team of 2018 top eight. They are also acutely aware of the cut-throat nature of elimination finals too won all four they have contested since 2008. Playing in their very first elimination final, The Giants, on the other hand, are one of the more inexperienced finals outfits with just 143 games combined.
Home Sweet Home?
With seven wins from eight games at the venue, the SCG has been a finals fortress for the Swans. During the 2018 season, however, they haven’t enjoyed anywhere near the same level of success winning just five of their 11 games at their home ground. Even at this reduced level of success, it is light years ahead of the Giants record of one win from six games at the cricket ground.
Expect it to be ready and willing on Saturday night with both teams doing some of their best work at the contest. Ranked one and two in the competition for percentage of scores it means that the team that can get on top in this area will put themselves in the driver’s seat. The battle between opposing captain’s Callum Ward and Josh Kennedy in the middle to gain this advantage will be almost worth the price of admission on its own.
Is it third time lucky for Whitfield?
Lachie Whitfield has had a tremendous season for GWS, averaging nearly 27 disposals a game and earning All-Australian selection along the way. It hasn’t been anywhere near as enjoyable for him against the Swans with just 15 & 17 possessions for him in the two contests. It will be important that he finds more of the ball so that he can play his part in the ‘Orange Tsunami’ that will be required to break down the Swans defence which is one of the best in the competition for absorbing pressure.
Sydney are by no means a one-man band but they are unquestionably a better side when Franklin fires. Despite being 14 years into his storied career, he remains one of the most damaging players in the game and whether GWS can contain him or not will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the game.
One of the most underrated defenders in the competition, Davis will have the first crack at closing down the dangerous Franklin. He will enter the game with a great deal of confidence to, with Franklin doing most of his best work either late in the contest or after Davis has been injured.
Herald Sun: Sydney 11, GWS 19.
The Age: Sydney 6, GWS 6.
The Pinch Hitters: Sydney 3, GWS 5.
Betting: Melbourne $1.75, Geelong $2.15.
With the added spice of one of the AFL’s newest but most spirited rivalries, this one looms as a potential match of the round. Both sides are hard at the ball which should ensure a gripping arm-wrestle for dominance. The extra week has helped both sides lick their wounds from a long season and has seen them both make some handy inclusions. It should be a tight battle but if GWS can utilise their greater leg-speed they might just have an edge. GWS to win by 11 points.
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