AFL 2019 Round Four: Sydney v Melbourne – Five Reasons to Watch

Need reasons to turn on the footy Thursday night? Bozza has five good reasons for you right here.

It’s still early days but there would have been long odds on these two teams having just one win between them at this stage of the season. The Swans have been notoriously slow starters under John Longmire but the football world is getting a little impatient about the Demons who were expected to be a genuine contender this year. It means this looms as an important statement game for both sides. Already sitting a long way off the pace, a loss starts making it very difficult indeed.

Last Five Meetings

2018Rd 21Syd13. 9 (87)Melb10.18 (78)MCG51,424
2017Rd 15Syd11. 19 (85)Melb7. 8 (50)MCG47,464
2016Rd 13Syd12. 14 (86)Melb4. 7 (31)SCG19,086
2015Rd 6Syd12. 16 (88)Melb7. 8 (50)MCG26,894
2014Rd 6Syd9. 15 (69)Melb5. 8 (60)MCG24,855

It’s been a long time between drinks for Melbourne at the SCG, their last win against the Swans in the Harbour City way back in 2006. In fact it’s been one way traffic at all venues in recent times with the Swans winning the last seven and Melbourne winning just one of the last 14!

Five reasons to watch

Buddy Franklin.

Ok, ok, this might seem like Captain Obvious but there is more to this nomination than the fact that Buddy remains one of the most entertaining players in the game into the twilight of a decorated career. With Melbourne’s defence so far this year as effective as Game of Thrones’ Brienne of Tarth in keeping alive those under her protection, the scene is set for an exhibition from the Swans number 23.

At the very least there is the possibility, given he is now just three goals behind, that Franklin may move past Matthew Lloyd into seventh place on the All-Time AFL Goal Kickers list.

Last chance saloon for Melbourne?

Simon Goodwin was at pains pregame Friday to demand that his team be measure on their performances alone, a position he softened on after they fell to their third defeat of the 2019 season. It is doubtful that he has given his team the same sympathetic treatment he has requested for them from the media this week as they look to keep their season alive against the Swans.

There have been promising signs in their past two defeats but encouraging defeats don’t buy a preseason premiership fancy anything in an economy that accepts only wins. If the threat of an 0-4 start isn’t enough to summon the best out of the Dees, nothing will. Expect to see them bring the kind of pressure to the SCG that took them all the way to the Prelim Final in 2018.

Sibling Rivalry.

I don’t know if its just me but there is something about brothers competing against each other, especially those like Zak and Nathan Jones. Both uncompromising, straight line running players, it will be enthralling to see them contest the same ball.

For Nathan, as Melbourne co-captain and given the position of his team, it will be important for him to set an example. For Zak, coming off perhaps his best game at League level, he will be keen to continue his ascension towards the competition’s elite.

The SCG.

Firstly it’s noteworthy that games between these two teams at the SCG are particularly with just five of the last 20 contests played there. Secondly, there is perhaps no more heavily scrutinised section of turf in Australia at the moment than the centre wicket area at the SCG.

With the closure of Allianz Stadium, the cricket ground has hosted a lot more sport than usual in 2019 and is clearly suffering under the increased strain. The A-League has shifted its top of the table clash between Perth Glory and Sydney FC this week, which will only increase the spotlight on the ground beneath the players feet on Thursday night.

Aliir Aliir.

The 24-year-old was outstanding in the backline for the Swans against the Blues on the weekend. Despite Melbourne’s scoring woes, they are 12th for goals scored this year, they are third in the competition for Inside 50’s. With the ball likely to spend plenty of time in Melbourne’s attacking zone, Aliir looms as an incredibly influential player this week. If the Swans win this one, don’t be surprised if he receives the three votes come Brownlow night.

The Verdict

Even after Melbourne scored 18 goals on the weekend, both teams sit in the lower half of the competition for goals scored. Things are different from a defensive standpoint with the Dees having conceded more goals than any other team this year. This weakness is likely to be exploited by a Sydney team beginning to rediscover their mojo.

Sydney will win by 15 points.

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