Glory is on the line in the AFL finals when the Sydney Swans host the North Melbourne Kangaroos at ANZ Stadium. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:50pm (AEST).
North Melbourne won the only encounter between these two teams this year in Round 4, however much has changed since then.
The loss to North was the low point in the season for Sydney, who then clicked into gear and went on a rampage which saw them win 12 straight and claiming the minor premiership.
North continued to tease with their talent by frequently knocking off teams above them on the ladder while losing to teams below.
Playing to the level of their opposition is what makes North Melbourne so dangerous on Friday night. They have the ability to beat anyone and if they can conjure their best performance they have every chance to win.
North have a wonderfully balanced team with midfield grunt and class. They also have stingy backline, led by Scott Thompson, Michael Firrito and Nathan Grima, and a potent one-two punch in attack with Drew Petrie and Lindsay Thomas.
Brent Harvey is as dangerous as he has ever been, zipping around the field setting up attacking opportunities while Todd Goldstein has been dominant throughout the finals series.
However the size of the task to beat the flag favourites in their home state, after a week off, is enormous.
Sydney’s towering forward line is impossible for any team to completely cover. Coleman Medal winner Lance Franklin oozes x-factor and Kurt Tippett’s height and strength make him so dangerous in the air.
The little man in their forward line, Ben McGlynn may be as important as any Swan on the ground with his attack on the ball and ability to hit the scoreboard.
The Swans midfield would have to be the best in the competition with an unrivalled ability to suppress around the ball and rebound into scoring positions.
Sydney’s defence was again its main strength this season as they ranked first in tackles per game and in opposition points per game. Ted Richards, Grundy and Nick Smith strangle their opponents in the back half, while Nick Malceski and Rhyce Shaw slice up the opposition on the rebound.
Sydney are the minor premiers for a reason. They have class all over the field and a player capable of winning games off his own boot with regularity in Franklin.
North head into this match on the back of a six-game winning streak and are a confidence team. When they have the wind in their sails they can be unstoppable.
That said the week off and home state advantage tilts me to the Swans to pull away in the fourth quarter.
Swans by 22 points.