The Swans earned their spot in next weekend’s AFL Grand Final with a commanding 26-point victory over Collingwood last Friday night, which also broke an 11-game, seven-year losing streak against the Pies.
Sydney asserted strong dominance for most of the first three quarters, surging to a 42-point lead. They weathered a late Pies rally which saw the gap reduced to 20 points, then steadied the ship to run out 13.18 (96) to 10.10 (70) preliminary final winners at ANZ Stadium.
The Swans’ characteristically fierce tackling, defensive grit, and contested ball-winning set the platform for this impressive win. Lewis Jetta wowed the 57,156-strong crowd with his searing pace and astonishing skill, bagging 3 goals, while Josh Kennedy lead the way with the grunt work and kicked two goals. Kennedy and fellow midfielders Ryan O’Keefe, Jarrad McVeigh and Dan Hannebery accounted brilliantly for Collingwood’s All Australian trio of Scott Pendlebury, Dane Swan and Dayne Beams.
It was a great way to help Jude Bolton celebrate playing his milestone 300th AFL game – he is just the third Swan ever to reach the mark. Bolton was a member of Sydney’s 2005 premiership-winning side and said he would recommend that his younger teammates prepare comprehensively but also take the time to absorb and enjoy the atmosphere of Grand Final week.
If you want to relive the Swannies’ Preliminary Final triumph, check out these links for Lewis Jetta’s awesome sprint and goal:
And the 8 Key moments of the match:
The Swans players have gotten neither carried away nor overconfident since this exciting triumph. Midfielder O’Keefe, for one, has said he’ll be keeping himself firmly grounded ahead of next Saturday’s AFL Grand Final – preparing for it just like any other game. He is one of the few Swans who played in the team’s last Grand Final appearance in 2006.
“It doesn’t come around very often and we’re just really pleased that all the hard work that we’ve put in has shown some sort of reward for us.”
The Grand Final will be played, of course, against flag favourites Hawthorn, who narrowly won a thrilling affair against Adelaide last Saturday night.
The Grand Final promises to be a fierce battle with Sydney’s number 1 ranked defence squaring up to the Hawks’ number 1 ranked attack. Key to the Swans’ back six is defender Marty Mattner, who will take part in his first Grand Final in his 11th season, after losing two preliminary finals during his time with the Crows. The 30-year-old is feeling confident, saying his team’s end-of-season form has put them in good stead for next week’s big showdown.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players at the club who have played in Grand Finals and experienced the week, so their knowledge and experience is going to be great this week,” Mattner said.
Let’s not forget that before the Grand Final, there is AFL’s night of nights – the awarding of the Brownlow Medal this Monday. Don’t miss it, because there are Sydney players in with a good shout – in particular midfielder Josh Kennedy. The former Hawk has had a superb year and Adam Goodes’ lessened impact gave him more exposure. Don’t count out potential vote-stealing teammates like Lewis Jetta and Kieran Jack, or umpire-favourite Goodes, but Kennedy has raised his game to new heights this season.
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