Sydney Swans are one game away from reaching their second AFL Grand Final in three seasons. In a Preliminary Final at ANZ Stadium on Friday night North Melbourne stand in the way of the Swans making another trip to the MCG, and a possible rematch with 2012 opponents Hawthorn.
The Swans came into the finals having claimed their first minor premiership since 1996, a season that also included a club record winning streak of 12 games. At times they looked unstoppable, most notably in a stunning 100 point victory over Geelong.
If they do make it to the decider along with Hawthorn it will set up a mouthwatering clash between Lance Franklin and his former club. When the Swans announced the capture of Franklin questions were raised about how he would fit into the culture of the club. However, Franklin has delivered on the back of huge expectation, and the team around him have not been troubled by the arrival of a superstar.
While Franklin’s deal is a long term one, there is no guarantee that any player will maintain their level over such a period of time. Therefore it is not unreasonable to expect success in the short term as well. A Premiership in his first season at the club will represent a significant repayment on the investment the Swans have made in him.
Nick Malceski appears to be winning his battle to be fit for the game. It is a risk to play a man who suffered a hamstring injury just two weeks prior, but Malceski has not missed a game all year and has been crucial to the Swans’ success. It would appear to be a risk worth taking in such a high stakes game.
North Melbourne could bring in defender Joel Tippett, setting up a fascinating battle with his older brother Kurt. They also have Brent Harvey available after the veteran successfuly challenged a one match suspension at the judiciary this week. The Kangaroos are unfancied by pundits going into this match, but it is worth remembering that they were the only team to beat the Swans at the SCG in 2014.
All pre-purchased tickets include public transport to and from ANZ Stadium, including Sydney Olympic Park Special Event Buses operating on the usual routes.
Friday 19th September, ANZ Stadium Homebush 19:50
Sydney Swans v North Melbourne
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