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AFL Thursday Night Forecast: Sydney vs Geelong

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    The second-last Thursday night game of the year is upon us, and what a cracker we’ve got lined up, with an extraordinary amount at stake for both teams.

    Sydney are coming off a loss to ladder-leader Richmond, which isn’t necessarily a big deal, especially down in Melbourne. But it did drop them down from second to fourth, level on ten wins with four other teams.

    Another loss here may well see the Swans struck from the top four altogether, with fifth-placed Port Adelaide sure to beat St Kilda at home on Saturday.

    Geelong are in a more perilous state. Despite having the third-best percentage in the competition, they sit in eighth, two games outside the top four. They too have lost to the Tigers in their recent past – again, no disgrace in that – but they followed it up with an unforgiveable loss to the Western Bulldogs.

    They will drop out of the eight with a loss, given North in ninth and Hawthorn in tenth can be expected to win this weekend and leapfrog them.

    Sydney’s midfield will be weakened by losing Isaac Heeney, who is possibly leading their best and fairest, to concussion, while Geelong’s will be strengthened by gaining Scott Selwood, who may get a minding job.

    The Cats coaching hierarchy might think it’s pointless to try and stop Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker on the inside, while also backing Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield to be more than a match for them, so Scott Selwood might go to Ollie Florent, who has shown that he can influence matches in recent times. Could the impressive young Swan get his first taste of a tagger at AFL level?

    George Hewett has been in fine fettle as Sydney’s run-with player, and might go to Selwood, particularly if they think Dangerfield will be spending a fair bit of time up forward – which he has been doing against the better sides.

    Zak Jones may see some more midfield time with Heeney out, as could Jarrad McVeigh and/or Jake Lloyd. Will Hayward could move through there at times, and could John Longmire send Ben Ronke through the middle? A similar player to Jack Higgins at Richmond, we’ve seen him have an impact as a mid in recent weeks for the Tigers.

    So Longmire has a few choices up his sleeve if he wants to be more adventurous than he is known for. These younger players are required to step into the breach, especially given Dan Hannebery and Kieren Jack are struggling to have an impact – the reserves may be beckoning for one or both of these veterans.

    Heath Grundy should take Tom Hawkins, assuming Dane Rampe will get first crack at Dangerfield like he did in their semi-final last year. Dangerfield split the game open in the first half playing as a forward, having six shots at goal by halfway through the second term.

    Aliir Aliir has come back into the team in good form as an intercept marker. Jake Lloyd has been bringing his own football in the last couple of months, distributing it through wing and half-back. One of the best kicks in the league, the Cats shouldn’t give him too much space to operate in.

    Aliir Aliir of the Sydney Swans bumps a North Melbourne Kangaroos player

    Aliir Aliir of the Swans (AAP Image/Rob Blakers)

    Down the other end, Mark Blicavs could be set to take match-up on Lance Franklin, although in last year’s final Tom Stewart did a sterling job. Geelong have kept Buddy quiet in recent times – last year he was held to a combined 22 touches and one goal in his two outings against them.

    Sydney have won six of the last eight against Geelong, including earlier this year down at Kardinia Park – funnily enough, the Swans have won their last three matches at the Cats’ home fortress.

    The last time they met at the SCG was 2014, where Sydney won by 110 points. Enough time has passed and the teams are so different, that result is irrelevant to proceedings.

    In cricket terms, Geelong’s tail is a bit longer than Sydney’s, and that may prove decisive. In general terms, the Swans are probably too good to drop two in a row, while we’d normally think the Cats aren’t going to lose three on the bounce, but one of these things is going to happen.

    The Round 6 match between these teams was full of momentum swings. At one point through the second and third terms, the Cats kicked six goals in a row, while the Swans ended up kicking the last five majors of the game to win.

    Tonight will be more of a struggle, with no more than 12 points between them all night, and Sydney being in front when the final siren sounds.

    That’s my Thursday night forecast. What’s yours?

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • July 5th 2018 @ 8:22am
      Thatsashame said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      I think cats win. That’s close to their best midfield now with selwood back. And if they get menzel and cocky back I think they can challenge top 4. Swans don’t look right tho year despite their ladder position and I think they’ll start to fall.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 3:21pm
        truetigerfan said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

        Midfield isn’t their problem. Undermanned in both defence and forward due to injuries has taken its toll. Sydney won’t let this game slip.

    • Roar Guru

      July 5th 2018 @ 8:32am
      Peter the Scribe said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Huge game for the Cats. If Swans win that’s 3 losses in a row for them and then Adelaide away and the Demons to come. Overly dramatic to call it the biggest game of their season tonight? They will be ferocious and I think they might just get up as a result. Cats by 5 points giving the Swans two losses in a row.

    • July 5th 2018 @ 10:00am
      Christo the Daddyo said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      Not sure I’d be putting McVeigh in the midfield too often – he’s far too slow these days. He’s having such a great season down back – I’d leave him there. Ronke might be a better bet to float between the forwards and midfield.

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2018 @ 10:04am
        Peter the Scribe said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        The Swans are the most honest side in the comp, probably the most disciplined too but not sure they have the firepower to contend against the Tigers even with Buddy. Longmire will need to pull a big rabbit out of the hat to get them over the Tigers in the finals.

    • July 5th 2018 @ 10:09am
      Aw said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      If the swans don’t win tonight, that is their season done.They will limp into the finals and get despatched

    • July 5th 2018 @ 10:40am
      IAP said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

      The great battle of the not quites tonight. It’ll be a good game, but both teams are not quite good enough. It’s a clash of the over-the-hills too; it’d be good to see Ablett line up on Hannebury; they can be past it together.

    • July 5th 2018 @ 11:12am
      penguin said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      Heeney is a massive out, both to their forward line and midfield. Hanneberry and Jack are liabilities atm and I just can’t see the Swans winning, particularly if Dangerfield drifts forward. The Swans desperately need another marking target to relieve Buddy and prevent him being double teamed

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2018 @ 12:45pm
        Peter the Scribe said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        Yes Penguin, trouble is that marking target they want is currently playing for the Pies (when not injured) – Darcy Moore.

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