After dismantling a disappointing Adelaide Crows team before the bye, Sydney were back at AAMI on the weekend and put in an underwhelming performance against Port Power.
In slippery conditions, Sydney’s usual clean and slick style of play went out the window and Port’s get it on the boot mentality reigned supreme.
The consequences of this game meant Sydney falling out of the top four and Port creeping back into the top eight.
However, this game was more indicative of Port’s see-sawing performances that have been present over the last few seasons, than a slump from Sydney.
The 2012 Premiers will still be causing many headaches at the pointy end of the season.
There are a few injury concerns at the Swans currently; Adam Goodes succumbing to what should be a short term knee injury, and exciting speedster Lewis Jetta missing in action.
The next month of footy should again showcase Sydney’s dominance with a clash with an unenthusiastic Carlton side at the SCG on Friday night, followed by Melbourne, Greater Western Sydney and West Coast.
- Kurt Tippet walked straight into the Sydney line-up on the weekend but Mumford returns in a couple of weeks so which big man makes way?
- Sydney must manage Adam Goodes correctly to get him firing for finals.
- Sydney’s last two rounds of the season are against Geelong and Hawthorn – this is a massive test.
Sydney’s biggest threats
Sydney will be in a good position to defend their premiership come finals, though a red hot Hawthorn side stands between Sydney and the dream of back-to-back premierships.
Hawthorn has a win loss ratio of 11-1, and with this intimidating percentage they are the team to beat in 2013.
Perhaps the major advantage that Sydney would have over Hawthorn if they were to meet again come Grand Final day, is the mental confidence from defeating them last year.
The chance of losing a consecutive Grand Final to the same team can be crippling, although in the last decade it has also proven to be a motivating factor.
Hawthorn suffered an injury set back with influential defender Grant Birchall out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury that puts a worrying gap in their defence line.
Yet, with the calibre of players that the Hawks have they won’t be too concerned, especially with the return of Cyril Rioli fast approaching.
Hawthorns clash with Geelong in two rounds time is a significant game that will act as a measuring stick for the Hawthorn management.
- Growing speculation that Lance Franklin will be lured away will weigh on the minds of people involved at Hawthorn.
- Jarryd Roughead is Hawthorn’s most valuable player – Hawthorn’s growing form coincides with Roughead’s career best form.
- Hawthorn is the best side in the competition but Geelong is their kryptonite.
Geelong isn’t quite the dominating team they have been in the last decade but it would be silly to count them out.
They sit second on the ladder and have the wood over Hawthorn and Sydney.
They will contest strongly against these top sides but look more likely to come undone by sides like Essendon and Fremantle.
Geelong’s experience alone is a big advantage in their assault on the 2013 premiership.
Their mixture of mature, experienced warriors, and young upcoming talent will create concern for any team they come up against.
- Paul Chapman is working to return from a hamstring injury in approximately three weeks and is an important inclusion.
- Steve Johnson will be missing in action for two weeks due to yet another suspension- his presence is pivotal and could cost the Cats.
- Geelong’s clash against Hawthorn in a fortnight is their chance to weigh on the mind of Hawthorn even further and get a psychological edge if they meet in the finals.
Fremantle is most definitely a threat to win the flag.
Their tactical mastermind coach, Ross Lyon, has implemented a game plan that pushes the best in the business.
The defensive minded game plan stifles oppositions and has proven influential so far this season.
The Dockers sit third on the ladder and are awaiting the return of Captain Matthew Pavlich, and man mountain Aaron Sandilands in the next few weeks.
These are huge inclusions in a young side that will reap the benefits of their experienced teammates’.
Fremantle were beaten comfortably by Hawthorn earlier this season and had a draw with Sydney.
This week’s clash with Geelong is their chance to show they can match it with a top four team. Furthermore it will be a great indicator to determine if they have what it takes.
- Fremantle’s chance is now – they must win this weekend and gun for a top two spot and gain a home final.
- Aaron Sandilands is as injury prone as they come – an important factor in their finals assault if he can string games together.
- Ryan Crowley and Hayden Ballantyne are both on thin ice – both are serial pests and umpires will be on high alert for any indiscretions.
A very talented side that can still create havoc if their long injury list can clear up.
They have struggled against the top sides so far this season.
Not impossible to win the flag, but many factors are going against them.
Anything could happen with this side that has gone through a lot as of late.
A very high spirited side with a lot of talent but might stumble at the finish line.
Tip for the flag: Hawthorn