There’s only one round left in the 2019 AFL season, yet – particularly near the top of the ladder – things are still pretty volatile and several clubs have huge gaps between their best or worst scenarios depending on how the cards fall in Round 23.
Pundits are lining up to write Geelong off but you won’t find Sydney coach John Longmire among them.
The surging Swans will start favourites on Friday night, when they face the Cats at the MCG in a semi-final.
It is a product of Sydney’s hot recent form, which continued in a 65-point shellacking of Essendon at the SCG, but also Geelong’s meek loss in week one of the finals.
The Cats were competitive during the first three quarters of their qualifying final against Richmond then simply outclassed, eventually losing by 51 points.
Longmire’s men enjoyed a 46-point win over Geelong in round 20 of this year’s regular season but the 2012 premiership coach expects a far tougher challenge this week.
“We tend to jump on and off teams pretty quickly this time of year based on their last performance,” Longmire told reporters after his side’s impressive win over the Bombers.
“We go down there with a real battle ahead against a quality team with really good players.
“Their defensive stuff was pretty good (against Richmond). I think it was only 13 points the difference at three-quarter time. The Tigers needed to do everything right.
“There’s a reason why they finished where they did.”
Hobbled key forward Lance Franklin suggested the Swans would need to “be at our best to beat” Geelong.
Franklin booted four goals against the Bombers, while Gary Rohan, Callum Sinclair, Dean Towers and Josh Kennedy also kicked multiple goals.
Longmire was impressed with several elements of his side’s polished performance, especially their knack of clutching contested marks up forward.
“We were able to get on top in the air down there. That certainly makes a difference, because players up the ground get a lot of confidence out of that,” he said.
“We really lifted a gear or two (after quarter-time) and played some really strong power footy.”