Geelong Cats vs Sydney Swans second semi-final preview and prediction

Josh Elliott Editor

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    In more than a decade from 2000 to 2013, just a small handful of teams finishing fifth to eighth ever made it past the second week of finals.

    This week, remarkably, the Sydney Swans are red-hot favourites to become the fifth team to do it in just four years. The wheel truly has turned.

    Why is this so? Since Round 6, Sydney boasts a 15-2 record, and the only team they’ve lost to is Hawthorn (both times), who they’re in no danger of playing again this year.

    Their thorough dismantling of Essendon at the SCG last week made it clear to all that they’re not going to be satisfied just with achieving an unlikely finals qualification after starting the year 0-6.

    By surely any measure if you discount the first six rounds of the year, they’ve been the best-performed team in the competition.

    And on top of that, their opponents this week are a team they took apart easily despite travelling just a little more than a month ago.

    That is Geelong of course, who are staring down the barrel of a second straight-sets exit inside four years after having the life choked out of them by Richmond last week.

    Since winning the flag in 2011, this club has played nine finals matches and won only two of them – a semi-final against Port Adelaide in 2013, and a qualifier decided after the siren over Hawthorn last year.

    The odds of them winning past Adelaide in a prelim final next week and then turning the tables on Richmond at the MCG in a grand final (if the Tigers win through) are low indeed.

    But for self respect’s sake if nothing else, they simply must get a win here.

    Last five matches
    Round 20, 2017 – Geelong 8.13.61 defeated by Sydney 16.11.107 at Simonds Stadium
    Preliminary final, 2016 – Geelong 8.12.60 defeated by Sydney 15.7.97 at MCG
    Round 16, 2016 – Geelong 9.6.60 defeated by Sydney 15.8.98 at Simonds Stadium
    Round 19, 2015 – Geelong 14.11.95 defeated Sydney 9.9.63 at Simonds Stadium
    Round 7, 2015 – Sydney 18.12.120 defeated Geelong 11.11.77 at ANZ Stadium

    Sydney Swans Geelong Cats AFL Finals 2016

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    Geelong Cats
    IN: Daniel Menzel, Darcy Lang
    OUT: Cameron Guthrie (Calf), Jordan Murdoch (Omitted)

    B: Tom Stewart, Tom Lonergan, Zach Tuohy
    HB: Andrew Mackie, Lachie Henderson, Zach Guthrie
    C: Mitch Duncan, Joel Selwood, Mark Blicavs
    HF: Sam Menegola, Harry Taylor, Brandan Parfitt
    F: Daniel Menzel, Tom Hawkins, James Parsons
    FOL: Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Selwood
    I/C: Jed Bews, Jake Kolodjashnij, Darcy Lang, Steven Motlop
    EMG: Rhys Stanley, Jordan Murdoch, Jackson Thurlow

    Sydney Swans
    No Change

    B: Nick Smith, Heath Grundy, Callum Mills
    HB: Jarrad McVeigh, Dane Rampe, Zak Jones
    C: Isaac Heeney, Josh P. Kennedy, Jake Lloyd
    HF: Dean Towers, Lance Franklin, George Hewett
    F: Kieren Jack, Callum Sinclair, Sam Reid
    FOL: Sam Naismith, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker
    I/C: Harry Cunningham, Nic Newman, Tom Papley, Gary Rohan
    EMG: Aliir Aliir, Daniel Robinson, Lewis Melican

    All’s well that Menzel?
    One of the big talking points last week was the shock dropping of Daniel Menzel from Geelong’s side, and although teams aren’t yet confirmed it’s already been said that he’ll come back in.

    While I do think he deserves to be in the side, truth be told he would have made little to no difference in last week’s final even if he had played, such was the nature of the game.

    It’ll be interesting to see what impact being dropped has on his performance. He’s a free agent this year and perhaps a fired up effort would result in Geelong upping their reportedly measly contract offer to him – or attract a good one from elsewhere.

    Either way, a promising prelim
    Adelaide vs Sydney is the finals matchup we all want to see and while fate and the fixture means it can’t happen in the grand final, a prelim final at Adelaide Oval is almost equally as tasty.

    However should the Cats surprise us and win through in this one, then Patrick Dangerfield returning to the City of Churches is bound to be a thriller as well.

    The Cats would surely enter that with at least a little confidence – although they were beaten there by Adelaide this year, they do otherwise have a pretty strong recent record against the Crows.

    Can Dangerfield drag Geelong over the line?
    If there’s any likely way for Geelong to get a win in this one, or any match really, it’s a game-breaking performance from Patrick Dangerfield.

    Dustin Martin seemed to officially pass him as the game’s No.1 midfielder on the big stage last week. His goal just before the half time siren was electric, and 31 disposals nothing to sneeze at, but he ultimately could not carry the Cats to victory.

    This isn’t at all to be a criticism of him, but it’s true that the greatest players of all are defined by their performances in finals, those who deliver wins. If Dangerfield wants to undisputedly join their ranks, there’s no better time than now.

    Patrick Dangerfield Geelong Cats AFL 2017

    (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    Prediction
    The Swans inspire so much confidence at the moment, and Geelong absolutely none. Sydney could not have dreamt of a more perfect semi-final matchup and all going as expected should win this one in a canter.

    Sydney Swans to win by 36.

    Where: MCG
    When: 7:50pm AEST Friday 15 September
    TV: Seven, live, Fox Footy, live
    Betting: Geelong $3.20, Sydney $1.36
    Head-to-head: Geelong 120, Sydney 100
    Last five: Geelong 1, Sydney 4
    In finals: Geelong 0, Sydney 4

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.