Nick Davis breaks down Saturday night’s semi-final match featuring Sydney vs Adelaide. Can the Swans bounce back from a disappointing effort last week or will the Crows’ dangerous small forwards wreak havoc at the SCG? Find out all in our AFL Predictions.
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After coming off an extremely disappointing loss to their hometown rivals Greater Western Sydney, the vengeful Swans will be back to show the league they’re still in this finals series. And, on Saturday night, they’ll be looking to put away the Crows right from the get-go. They were absolutely dominated on every front by the Giants last week, proving to show no efficiency through the middle and absolutely no poise and composure on defence. Poor performances from Dane Rampe against Jeremy Cameron and Dan Hannebery on Callan Ward led to a surge of orange jerseys sprinting up the middle and moving the ball forward to an attacking position. This week, they verse an Adelaide outfit that, in my opinion, is twice the football team than the GWS Giants, which poses serious problems for the do-or-die Swans.
Much to the pleasure of the Adelaide outfit, round one of the 2016 finals presented to them the easiest matchup of the week, taking on the struggling North Melbourne Kangaroos and, in turn, silencing their presence early in the matchup. They didn’t get out to as much of a lead as I predicted, but nevertheless they stood up and advanced to the next round of finals. This week, they take on a much more elite – not to mention vengeful – Sydney Swans outfit and will look to try and steal this do-or-die win on the road. With strong performances from ruckman Sam Jacobs against an extremely dominant league-best Todd Goldstein and Tex Walker against an All-Australian defender in Scotty Thompson, things are looking good for the Crows heading into this matchup.
Meetings This Year
Round 4: Adelaide Oval – Adelaide by 10
These two teams met only once this season, when in round four the Crows stole the win at home against the Swans by a mere 10-point margin. In this matchup, key Sydney midfielder Dan Hannebery totalled 38 possessions, including 20 handballs and 18 kicks. Furthermore, Buddy Franklin amassed a total of 4 goals on 5 attempts, as young gun Isaac Heaney also kicked 4. On the other hand, Eddie Betts for the Crows bagged 4 goals as key Adelaide midfielders Rory Laird and Scott Thompson totalled 27 disposals each. A strong all round performance from the Crows allowed for the difference at the final siren, as they successfully held off a Sydney siege in the final 5 minutes of the game. An interesting statistic in this matchup, however, is this amount of kicks by each club. They both totalled exactly 372 possessions each, but Adelaide managed to amass 25 more kicks than the Swans. In terms of efficiency, both teams were at 70%, which shows that Adelaide were able to use the ball just as efficiently as Sydney, however were able to do so with composure by foot, something that we have seen a lot of from both clubs this year. It is also obvious that Sydney chose to move the ball preferably by handball, which obviously entailed difficulty when entering inside their attacking 50. Both teams are capable of breaking each other apart, but time will tell which outfit will execute their game plan and gain the upper hand.
My favourite outlook for this matchup will obviously be key Adelaide midfielder Rory Sloane on Sydney’s young defensive anchor Tom Mitchell, as Mitchell is usually used by coach John Longmire to subdue the opposing key midfielder and take him out of the contest. However, Sloane has been on an extremely impressive campaign this year, looking to finish in the top 3 of Brownlow votes this year, as will do everything within his power to make a difference in this contest. Mitchell will look to minimise Sloane’s dominance in this matchup, while also looking to make his own impact and help gain efficiency through the middle of the contest and up towards their attacking 50.
When listing the key matchups for a Sydney game, you always look at who is guarding Buddy Franklin. This week, I assume the lucky defender will be Daniel Talia, as Adelaide coach Don Pyke will look to outrun Franklin to the ball and minimise his effect on the game. For Buddy, this will be a big task, as his speed has always been his downfall against smaller, quicker defenders. He will look to take Talia into the goal square to take an overhead mark and kick a quick goal, which is where I believe the matchup will get interesting. Talia’s tenacity and toughness will prove to be a real challenge for Buddy to outdo, which will mean the two will go head-to-head in an exciting joust all game.
The last key matchup, as he comes off a big week against the Kangaroos, will be ruckman Sam Jacobs taking on one of the league’s most athletic ruckmen in Sam Naismith. Furthermore, Naismith will interchange with Sydney forward Kurt Tippett, who has been very successful in the ruckman position this year. Jacobs will have his plate full against this two-string ruckman system that Sydney has incorporated, which will prove to be a big factor in this matchup. If Jacobs can get the upper hand on both Sydney ruckmen, while also maintaining his stamina and energy over four quarters, Adelaide could see a real benefit in the middle and look to move the ball forward quickly and smoothly.
Where the Match will be Won
This match, simply put, will be won down in Sydney’s forward 50. The way I see this matchup, either Sydney will hit the scoreboard early and maintain a clear margin for the next three quarters, or Adelaide put a stop to Sydney’s movement inside their 50 and play clear, concise turnover ball. Sydney’s vulnerability, and exactly what GWS were able to tap into last week, is their inability to play transition defence after turning the ball over while heading inside their attacking 50. Their defenders are often playing up towards the 50-metre line and looking to take the ball straight back in if there is an opposition clearance kick made. If Adelaide can steal the ball on Sydney’s inside 50 attack and efficiently move the ball quickly down to their end of the field, they may just see several quick goals from players such as Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie kicked a bag of 5 goals this week.
At the moment, and with the home ground of the SCG taken into account, I see Sydney winning this matchup by a margin of within 40 points. Furthermore, I believe key midfielder Dan Hannebery will amass over 30 possessions in a contest clearly dominated by whoever can handball the Sherrin out of the ruck and onto players who can efficiently hit forwards on the lead. Expect Adelaide to fight in this matchup, as it is do-or-die. However, I just can’t see an angry, vengeful Swans outfit dropping this game to a young Adelaide team. The experience and gameplay of the Swans shouldn’t fail two weeks in a row – especially in a finals matchup.
Sydney Swans by 25