Sentimental Swans back when it matters most
With all the talk of Collingwood, and the ominous warnings being fired by Geelong during the past fortnight, it seemed as if only two teams looked likely to win the ultimate prize in 2010.
Perhaps a hard judgement, but with St Kilda only scrapping home against Richmond and losing that relentless defensive pressure and killer instinct to a considerable degree this season, which has seen them slip to third, many see this year’s competition as a two horse race.
The Western Bulldogs’ disappointing form leading into September is too hard a task to overturn at this stage, with injuries to key players and confidence ripped into shreds.
It begs the question, with the Sydney Swans’ thrilling and comprehensive victory over the Bulldogs in Brett Kirk and Paul Roos’ final game at the SCG, are Sydney a contender once again?
Now, readers may think I’m crazy to think so considering Sydney were hammered in consecutive weeks by Melbourne and Geelong to the tune of 73 and 53 points, but Sydney have won four of their last six games against Carlton, Hawthorn, Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs.
In those games the Swans have comprehensively beaten three of those teams by seven goals.
To think that these are teams that Sydney is going to face in a likely home final just a week out from the finals will be a huge factor.
The Swans have been missing bookends Craig Bolton, Mark Seaby and Daniel Bradshaw along with Roberts Thompson and Craig Bird for huge chunks of the season, which makes the Swans’ form all the more impressive.
However, good form against the bottom eight teams does not make you a contender.
But with the Swans now considered the best from the rest, purely on form over the last six weeks, and only losing to St Kilda in round 1 by eight points, and giving Collingwood a run for its money earlier in the year, Sydney are sitting in the box seat to do what only Collingwood did during the noughties, and make a prelim final from the bottom eight.
A win against Brisbane – which is probable – will mean Sydney will host a final against Carlton or Hawthorn, and a win there could mean a semi final against the Bulldogs.
The Bloods have got as good a chance as any to make a grand final again for outgoing co-captain and coach.
Easier said than done, and is unlikely to happen, but the last time the Swans won four games on the trot going into the finals they took the flag home, and with Ryan O’Keefe and Jared Moore returning next week, along with possible inclusions Daniel Bradshaw and Craig Bolton, the Swans are a real chance of giving September an almighty shake if rounds 1-6 are anything to go by.
Add to that sentimental emotion riding high and red hot form and you’ve got a genuine dark horse.