Two top four teams are set to go head-to-head when the fourth-placed Adelaide Crows head to the Sydney Cricket Ground to take on the undefeated Sydney Swans tonight. Join us for live scores and a detailed description from 7.40pm AEST.
Sydney played in their last grand final in 2006 and it has only taken six seasons for that premiership dream to be rekindled.
The Swans have only missed the finals once in the last nine years but after exiting at the semi-final stage of the season in 2010 and 2011 they appear ready to challenge for the title for the first time since 2006.
Sydney has only been tested once this season and that was against Fremantle in round two.
After racing to a big lead in the middle stages, the Swans hit the brick wall late in the contest and may have been a little bit lucky to hold onto their 13-point victory.
The Swans have beaten GWS, Freo, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne and Hawthorn.
Last week, John Longmire’s men put on an outstanding second-half performance to expose the frailties in an underperforming Hawthorn team when prevailing by 37-points in Launceston.
It was the third big win for Sydney on long, narrow grounds in a season.
Last year, the Swans were the only team to beat West Coast at Subiaco and Sydney was the first team to defeat Geelong at Skilled Stadium since 2007.
Tonight, the Swans host Adelaide at the tricky SCG. Sydney has an interesting record at the ground.
They lost four of their first six games at the Cricket Ground last year.
Amongst those they succumbed to were Geelong, Hawthorn and Carlton.
Sydney has won their last four at the SCG but those wins were against the lowly Dogs and Lions, an unlucky Freo and finally North Melbourne two weeks ago when Sydney were commanding victors, prevailing by 34 points.
I’m not certain the Swans play their best footy at the Moore Park venue.
In contrast, Adelaide has the best record of any team in the competition at the SCG.
The Crows have won five of their last six at the ground but the last of those matches was in 2008 when Adelaide was coached by Neil Craig.
Under new coach Brenton Sanderson this year, the Crows are playing a new style and whether that is conducive to playing good football at the AFL’s smallest ground remains to be seen.
What is without doubt is Adelaide’s good record against Sydney.
The Crows have won seven of their last eight against Sydney and obviously match-up well against the Swans.
In their last encounter Adelaide prevailed by seven points at Footy Park in the wet as despised outsiders.
The Crows have started the season well. They won the NAB Cup and have only been defeated once this season – by Hawthorn at the MCG to the tune of 56 points.
That loss may have been a good thing for the Crows because it brought them back down to earth.
Since being defeated by the Hawks, Adelaide were too good for GWS and won a hard-fought Showdown last week after Port put up a good fight over the first three quarters.
Surprisingly, Adelaide has a decent record the week after the first Showdown of the season.
Last year, the Crows lost the first Showdown by 32 points before travelling to Docklands and going down to Carlton by six points.
In 2010, the Crows beat Richmond by 50 points the week after losing the Showdown by 23 points.
I think the Crows can play their best football tonight, six days after their most emotion-charged match so far in 2012.
The Swans are also on a six-day break having also won last Sunday.
Both coaches have named strong squads for tonight. The Swans are unchanged. Ruckman Shane Mumford is set to be out for another month.
The Crows have made only one swap for tonight. Andy Otten has been dropped, paving the way for the return of goal-sneak Jason Porplyzia. There is no Bernie Vince or Richard Douglas for Adelaide.
In a week where almost all of the favourites will win, I think Adelaide has a massive chance of causing a boil-over here.
They play the ground well, play the Swans well and play well after the first Showdown. Sydney is expected to win and against a 4-1 Adelaide team that is a position they are not often accustomed to being in.
I tipped Sydney last week and it’s a bit strange to be jumping off here but I think the Crows can get up by seven points.