The Roos are cooked.
The Sydney Swans venture into the fortress that is Geelong’s Cattery tonight, and will take great confidence from the last two encounters between the sides.
The Swans wiped the floor in last year’s preliminary final at the MCG, but they had a more important victory in Round 16 of that year, knocking off Joel Selwood’s men by 38-points at Simonds Stadium.
Tonight, both sides are without their spiritual and instrumental leaders – Josh P Kennedy steps aside to recover from a hamstring strain, while Patrick Dangerfield accepts sanction for a dangerous tackle that ended his hopes of back-to-back Brownlows.
This is going to be like when you and your mates have to manufacture a night out in the absence of the loosest unit in the group.
Do the absences of both men cancel each other out? I’m sure most would argue that Dangerfield is a more vital ingredient to his side’s makeup, but Kennedy is a consistent beast, and we saw what happens to Sydney when he is well held seven days ago.
Sydney have brought in quality in the form of Jake Lloyd and Gary Rohan, but opted to go tall with the potentially game-breaking but inconsistent Kurt Tippett and Sam Reid.
They are clearly rattled after being demolished 21-5 in the contested marks last round.
They are now a much taller outfit, which would usually cast doubt over their ability to pressure, chase and win the ball where it spends most of its time – on the carpet.
But the inclusion of Rohan is a factor – he has the pace of two men and a yearning for the contest of another. However, he is no guarantee to be at 100 per cent after his back spasms last week.
Geelong’s inexperience in the form of Wylie Buzza, Zach Guthrie and Sam Simpson will need to be uplifted by the wave of support on hand in their home environment if they are to go with the Swans at the coalface.
Joel Selwood will show them the way. He would be at short odds to have hemorrhoid cream painted somewhere on his face by quarter time, as Hannebery, Parker and Jack won’t be making love to spiders.
The Cats have been all-conquering at their familiar home this year – the narrower confines restrict teams like Adelaide and the Bulldogs, who want to run and gun and slingshot out the back. Sydney don’t want to do that. Sydney play a one-on-one, uncompromising style and trust their men to come out on top in a battle of wills.
The MCG may have provided Alastair Clarkson with a platform to out-manoeuvre this attack, but there will ironically be nowhere for Geelong to hide at their own fortress.
Sydney to win by around two goals and Lance Franklin to be angry, again.