Swans have an opportunity for redemption
Can the Swans take down Hawthorn this week? (Image: Slattery)
Sydney haven’t beaten Collingwood for seven seasons now. There have been losing streaks a lot worse in the history of the game but it’s a humiliating record.
On Friday night the Swans have a real opportunity to achieve some redemption.
For quite a while now the talented midfielders of Collingwood have proven the difference: there are just too many of them. Even when these two sides met recently the Pies were without Dane Swan and lost Dale Thomas in the first quarter.
Dayne Beams and Sharrod Wellingham took up the slack created by Swan’s absence and the dangerous Alan Didak replaced Thomas.
John Longmire has done an admirable job with this team of hard workers and rejects, to make them less dowdy and defence oriented than in previous years.
But the narrow loss to the Pies followed by another to flag favourite Hawthorn and then a final round thumping from Geelong suggested a touch of class was required to compete with the big boys.
The revenge win against the precocious Adelaide in the Qualifying Final has changed things. More importantly, Collingwood look vulnerable.
Last week the Pies re discovered their intensity ,and the methods of the previous coach who made them, but it seemed to take a toll – they’re starting to look a bit bashed up and spent to me.
Despite the jovial demeanour of the players at training, they’ve got some injury concerns.
Thomas was able to summon some magic against West Coast but he still looks proppy. Didak, who was the trump card played by Nathan Buckley in the opening half of last week’s game, is all but gone, and Chris Dawes is waiting to find out if prancing around with painkillers in his system has done more damage to his knee.
The physicality of the previous game and the accompanying emotions linked to John McCarthy’s passing are certain to prove draining. History said they would win last week but it will insist they exit tomorrow night.
Since 2000, only three of the twenty-four preliminary finalists have won after backing up from a semi final.
The wintry backdrop to Collingwood’s Gosch’s Paddock was in stark contrast to the sunlit Members Pavilion of the SCG where the rested Swans completed a casual training run.
On paper Collingwood remain a threat but according to captain Jarrad McVeigh, whose glowing face was lit up by a reflective piece of advertising perspex as he was being interviewed, the Swans are confident and know what has to be done (stifle the influence of the Magpie midfielders and impart some damage of their own) to advance to the Grand Final.
Also, the competition’s best defence will be strengthened with the return of Heath Grundy from suspension which may prove significant in reducing the role played by an improving Travis Cloke.
The Pies have re signed most of their squad and so this might be the Swan’s only opportunity for several seasons to sink the boot into their nemesis.
Winning tomorrow night will restore some dignity and put them in the Grand Final.
It may also be a good omen because the last time they beat Collingwood it was 2005, their premiership year.
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