• Sydney vs Carlton - Rnd 6 2011 Match Preview

    A confession to start. I was meant to have contributed a match report for the round 4 Geelong game. So I pondered for more than a week waiting for inspiration to strike so that I could write something other than ?Cats still better than Swans?, or ?Swans tough and gallant but ultimately just a touch short in class?, or even ?Short, follicly challenged Cat dismantles Swans ? again?. Alas, nothing inspirational ever arrived and so nor did the match report. Instead I turned my attention to this weekend?s Carlton clash.

    Just thinking about the fixture brings back very fond memories, because the first AFL match I ever attended was a Friday night game against the Blues, way way back in 1995. The circumstances were somewhat different, with Carlton unbeaten to that point of the season and the Swans reigning wooden spooners. A crowd of 20-odd thousand poured into the SCG that night and cheered long and hard as the unfancied Swans literally dismantled Carlton. It was the game that many Sydney fans first truly embraced Plugger Lockett, as he bagged a haul of 8 games. It was also marked the debut of Anthony Rocca and the second ever game of a young, skinny lad from Central Districts. I was aware of none of this at the time. I had never even heard of Tony Lockett, Paul Kelly or Paul Roos. I just stood in the crowd watching a frenetic blur of bodies in a sport unlike anything I had seen before. I absorbed the roar each time ?the big bloke? caught the ball, and the even bigger roar when he went back and kicked it between the big sticks. It was loud. It was exciting. It was love at first outing. And so my Swans journey began.

    Enough reminiscing. Back to the present. What should we expect from this week?s game?

    The Form Lines

    It is still too early in the season to get a true sense of where many clubs are placed relative to each other but the form lines of Sydney and Carlton are pretty similar so far. Both teams have suffered one loss at the hands of one of the two teams clearly ahead of the rest (at least for now). Both have had a draw, both a close encounter with the greatly improved Bombers and both a bye, though Carlton earned four points for theirs. The Blues looked in control against the Crows last week but were eventually made to fight hard for their win, while Sydney also had to tough it out to earn victories against West Coast and Essendon. Neither team has a forward line that has functioned particularly well so far this year, and both teams have been prone to banging the ball in long to an attack bereft of a viable marking target. The Swans? field kicking has been a bit hit and miss at times, but Carlton?s skills have also let them down at times, especially in front of goal.
    The Elimination Final last year showed that there was very little between the two sides, and there have been no significant personnel changes within either side that suggest this has changed. So in terms of both form and spread of talent, it is very hard to pick a clear favourite going into the game.

    Key Players

    It goes without saying that the relative impacts of Judd and Goodes will have a large bearing on the outcome of the game. But who else looms as a potential match breaker?

    Chris Yarran has taken on a new role this season as a rebounding defender and Carlton look to his pace to break through the forward presses employed now by so many sides. Left to run free he can be very damaging but is yet to show that he can cope well with a close tag. He is certainly a player worth paying attention to and I had hoped we might see Gary Rohan given a forward defensive role on Yarran this week. Sadly that can?t happen now, due to Rohan?s training mishap, and it is possible that Yarran, too, might miss the game with a hamstring problem. But if he does play, maybe Bevan will be asked to shut him out of the game.

    In last year?s elimination final, Andrew Walker surprised many with his contribution as a medium forward, and it is a role he has continued on with in 2011. He is not the most reliable set shot for goal but he has a good leap and can certainly take a mark Ratten has assigned him defensive roles in the Blues? forward line, and his contribution at ANZ last year came while also keeping Kennelly quiet for the first three quarters. Kennelly may not be seen as quite the same danger this time around so Walker might have more licence to focus on attack. Richard?s defensive work has been excellent this year and he might be the man to mind Walker this time around. Mattner looms as another possible opponent.

    In Carlton?s midfield, Marc Murphy has started the season in very good form and looks to have shaken the injuries that niggled him for much of last year. While he can be brilliant with ball in hand, his defensive work is a bit more suspect so a head to head duel with Jack would be intriguing, and probably a far better option for us than asking Jack to try and mind the bigger body of Judd.

    The X-Factors

    Sydney got some practice last Saturday night for the conditions that are likely to prevail again this week. Although not historically a great wet weather side, it is an area that they have improved in significantly over the past couple of seasons. Carlton play many of their games under the protection of the Ethihad roof and won?t be as attuned to the conditions as the Swans should be. The forward line contributions of Moore, McGlynn and Bevan at one end, and Betts and Garlett should be pivotal to the outcome.

    There has been much conjecture about the effect of the bye but it is too soon to draw any definite conclusions. Sydney?s record after recent mid-season breaks has been awful, but it is hard to know how much this is the Collingwood-factor rather than the effect of the week off. I imagine many Swans fans will nervously await how switched on the team is at the start of the game.

    The Blues 17 year losing streak in Sydney is well-documented. After dropping an SCG game last round, albeit to the classy Cats, the Swans will be desperate to remind the rest of the football world that the SCG is their fortress. Two consecutive SCG losses would take much of the gloss off the Subiaco success.

    The Prediction

    I am not game enough to nominate a winner, so close does this match-up appear to be. But I fear that our nerves will again be put to the test in a game that will be decided by less than two goals.
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. ScottH's Avatar
      ScottH -
      What's a preview without a prediction?

      Well written liz. Thankyou.
    1. ugg's Avatar
      ugg -
      Thanks you liz.

      Richards will be busy with Grundy minding their two talls Waite and Hampson/Warnock so I can't see him lining up on Walker. I think Mattner is the best matchup here as Walker has a good leap and Marty has one to match him. Garlett is the other danger man, leading their goalkicking this year - we might see Rhyce on him.
      At the other end, I'm expecting a big one out of Moore even though it's his first senior game of the year. He should bring some poise to the forward line with his clever kicking.
    1. ScottH's Avatar
      ScottH -
      Moore's kicking into the F50 is somehitng that we've been missing.
      But if it is going to be wet again, may be just a bit of mongrel we need to help McG out.
    1. dimelb's Avatar
      dimelb -
      Thanks Liz. Nicely put, and always more fun to read possibilities than post-mortems.
    1. desredandwhite's Avatar
      desredandwhite -
      Nice one Liz. Looking forward to the game! I can see the SCG right now from my window at work... or what appears to be the SCG, wreathed in fine rain....
    1. RogueSwan's Avatar
      RogueSwan -
      Great read Liz, but I've gotta agree with Scott.... CHICKEN!
    1. ShockOfHair's Avatar
      ShockOfHair -
      Nice reminiscing, Liz. I think I was at that 1995 game, too.

      It's the first preview I've ever seen describing Bevan as a key player. I wonder if he has the pace to corral Yarran.

      I think Swans will win, but I'm always worried when we go in as favourite.
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