• PREVIEW: Swans take on history and the Cats

    Sydney vs Geelong, Round 7. Skilled Stadium, Sunday May 9, 1.10pm

    For all the talk of ?one week at a time?, history weighs heavily on footy, and it?s certainly making its presence felt at Skilled Stadium on Sunday.

    The Cats haven?t lost there since 2007. They?ve won their last 18 at Skilled and if you include ?home games? at Etihad and the MCG - the AFL does - they hold the league record for 25 home wins in a row.

    Since the Swans last beat them in round 5, 2006 at Telstra Stadium, the Cats have won six on the trot against us. Our last victory at Skilled (then Shell Stadium) was Round 8 1999, when Tony Lockett kicked 6.

    However, recent history runs a little more in the Swans? favour.

    As every pundit has pointed out, the Swans have cruised to top spot after crunching a few cellar dwellers and beating just one top eight side.

    But Geelong?s record, as few seem to have observed, is even more slender. They?re a formidable side but the signs show they?ve fallen back to the pack. In the first six weeks they?ve beaten the Bombers and Hawthorn, lost narrowly to Freo, murdered the Power and the Tigers and gone down to the Blues.

    Up to that epic Saints clash last year, Geelong had won 55 out of 58 games. Since then they've won 12 out of 18.

    By contrast the Swans are in top form. Defence coach Peter Berbakov reckons last week?s win, with four or five injured players, was one of the best he?d seen at the club.

    You?d reckon Geelong?s seven-goal loss to the Blues at Etihad two weeks ago got a good workout in the Swans? video room this week. The Cats got flogged, losing every quarter as Betts, Yarran and Garlett ran them off their feet.

    Geelong are vulnerable to speed, which is suddenly one of the Swans? strengths. That, combined with our high kicking efficiency gives us the ability run the ball quickly into the forward arc.

    But the key is in the midfield. If the Swans can force a draw with the Cats? nuclear-capable mids we?re more than halfway there. ROK, Kirk, Bolton and McVeigh are all in good form, but Geelong has a big in ? Gary Ablett, back from the Logies, who last time collected a lazy 44 touches against us.

    Their other big return is Scarlett, whose one-on-ones with last week?s hero Bradshaw will be a highlight.

    For our part the Swans will miss Craig Bolton up back, where their mid-size forwards Chapman and Johnson are probably more lethal than their talls. In this game last year Johnson was the destroyer, kicking 4.5.

    The biggest question is just how well the Swans can run out the game in the wake of last week?s brutal clash with Lions. Coming off a training run against the Tigers, the Cats will be much fresher. Sydney players will need to draw on all of their long pre-season conditioning.

    For good reasons, Geelong are hot favourites to win their 19th successive match on home turf.

    But the Swans have the pace, the skills and the discipline to turn them aside. If Sydney can last the distance, they can take the points.

    Swans v Cats: The lowdown

    Experts say?
    The Adjudicator:
    ?There is no doubt [Sydney] are a finals contender, but only a mad man would tip against Geelong at the cattery. I'm mad, but I'm not that mad. Geelong by four goals."

    Matthew Campbell, Fox
    ?[T]he Cats are a different side at Skilled Stadium. They seem to be able to kick goals at will and kick big scores down there.?

    The Hun: 1 out of 20 experts tip the Swans (i.e., Kevin Sheedy)
    Age: 2 out of 24 (3 if you include ?Scottish Terrier?)
    ShockofHair: Swans by 9.

    Betfair: Geelong $1.35 Sydney $3.70
    Sportsbet: Geelong $1.28 Sydney $3.50

    Watch out for
    The clearances: the Swans will need to win at least half

    The second quarter: The Cats tend to start slow but come home strongly. They?ve won just two out of six second quarters. The Swans will need to be in front at half-time.

    JPod, the Cats? unlikely new star. With Hawkins out of form he?s a key forward target. If he has his kicking boot on, watch out.


    Key matchups (my guesses)
    Scarlett v Bradshaw
    Mummy v Blake
    Reg v Mooney
    LRT v Pods
    Jack v Ablett
    Kirk v Selwood
    Ling v ROK or McVeigh
    Mattner v Chapman
    Kennelly v Johnson

    The stats
    Head to head: Geelong 113 wins, Sydney Swans 93 wins, no draws

    Last time they played
    Round 20, 2009
    Geelong 13.14 (92)
    Swans 13.9 (87)

    Last week
    Swans 5.1 (31) 9.5 (59) 16.8 (104) 16.11 (107)
    Brisbane 2.2 (14) 5.3 (33) 11.4 (70) 13.9 (87)

    O?Keefe 26 disposals, McVeigh 23. Bradshaw 6 goals.

    Geelong 7.2 (44) 13.7 (85) 19.10 (124) 24.17 (161)
    Richmond 0.2 (2) 2.5 (17) 4.9 (33) 7.11 (53)

    Chapman 33 disposals, Kelly 29, Johnson 26. Mooney, Podsiadly, Johnson 5 goals each


    Sydney Swans
    B: Rhyce Shaw, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Tadhg Kennelly
    HB: Martin Mattner, Heath Grundy, Nick Malceski
    C: Jarrad McVeigh, Brett Kirk, Nick Smith
    HF: Ryan O?Keefe, Adam Goodes, Josh Kennedy
    F: Jesse White, Daniel Bradshaw, Jarred Moore
    Foll: Shane Mumford, Jude Bolton, Kieren Jack
    I/C: Gary Rohan, Ted Richards, Lewis Jetta, Michael Pyke
    Emg: Ed Barlow, Paul Bevan, Matt O?Dwyer

    In: Pyke, Rohan
    Out: Daniel Hannebery (shoulder), Mark Seaby (ankle)

    New: Gary Rohan (Geelong Falcons)

    Geelong Cats
    B: Josh Hunt, Matthew Scarlett, Darren Milburn
    HB: Corey Enright, Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie
    C: James Kelly, Cameron Ling, David Wojcinski
    HF: Tom Hawkins, James Podsiadly, Paul Chapman
    F: Steve Johnson, Cameron Mooney, Gary Ablett
    Foll: Mark Blake, Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel
    I/C: Shannon Byrnes, Simon Hogan, Travis Varcoe, Tom Lonergan
    Emg: Dawson Simpson, Ryan Gamble, Mitch Duncan

    In: Ablett, Scarlett
    Out: Brad Ottens (foot), Mitch Duncan
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Mike_B's Avatar
      Mike_B -
      Good read - very insightful. The Cats like to leave Scarlett free, I think Taylor will start on Bradshaw.
    1. ScottH's Avatar
      ScottH -
      Well done SOH, very inciteful.

      Could be won in the ruck.
    1. Lucky Knickers's Avatar
      Lucky Knickers -
      Thanks Shock of Hair that is another great preview (where does that name come from BTW?) I think a bit of May Madness is in order and I should reverse my tip.
      We need to be the tackle meisters tomorrow.
    1. ShockOfHair's Avatar
      ShockOfHair -
      Is that right about Taylor, Mike? I would have picked Taylor to get Goodes.. matchups is not my strong point.

      I feel a lot less confident now without LRT.

      You're right, LK. We're down two or three players, we really need to be on our defensive game today.
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