You need to go all the way in which again to 2009 for the final time each the Swans and the Hawks missed finals motion, however one decade on it’s trying like we’re heading that manner once more.
It’s hardly surprising. The Swans have been quietly rebuilding the core of their checklist for just a few seasons now and have recurrently put out one of many youngest and least-experienced sides this season – although that has modified barely up to now month or so, as, unsurprisingly, has their stage of competitiveness.
The Hawks have had no such rebuild. Regardless of the narrative being pushed by some high-profile commentators, Alastair Clarkson constantly fields one of many league’s oldest and most skilled groups.
That’s by design. Hawthorn have traded off a heap draft picks in recent times for confirmed expertise. Sadly for them, two of these confirmed skills – Tom Mitchell and Chad Wingard – have performed little or no half on this season.
Regardless of shedding veteran skipper Ben Stratton to suspension, the Hawks have managed to become old and extra skilled with the return of 281-gamer Jarryd Roughead. They’ve additionally introduced in Harry Morrison on the expense of James Cousins.
Hawthorn will discipline a dozen 100-game gamers tonight in contrast with seven for the Swans. Their common video games performed of 131.four is greater than 40 greater than Sydney’s 89.eight – that’s an enormous distinction.
Sydney have made three adjustments. Zak Jones, Will Hayward and co-captain Josh Kennedy come into the aspect for the injured Jarrad McVeigh, and dropped pair Jackson Thurlow and Tom McCartin.
Hawthorn will probably be hoping Roughead may also help them create some semblance of competence of their ahead line after a dreadful exhibiting in opposition to the Bombers wherein they wasted entry after entry into their attacking 50.
The Hawks really had 5 extra inside-50s than Essendon they usually can in all probability count on to win that stat once more tonight.
On the yr, Hawthorn are a reasonably poor 13th for inside-50 differential, with 12 fewer entries than their opponents – a reasonably insignificant one a sport.
Sydney, nonetheless, have let their opponents pump the ball inside-50 152 extra instances this season, which is the worst differential within the competitors.
The excellent news for the Swans is that they’re fairly good at proscribing opponents when the ball does are available (they’d wish to be with that differential!), conceding a purpose on 20.5 per cent of opponent entries, which is fifth-best.
At 22 per cent, the Hawks (eighth) are proper across the league common of 22.three per cent relating to turning their very own inside-50s into targets.
The Swans are considerably surprisingly ranked 16th for clearance differential this season. Although they’re not the highly effective inside midfield brigade they as soon as had been.
Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker are nonetheless high quality if unspectacular gamers and George Hewett tries his guts out however will in all probability by no means be a star.
Isaac Heeney is a star, however I’m not satisfied he’s improved since final season. That’s not a cause to panic – he was already rattling good and remains to be simply 23 – however I believed he’d be a bit higher by now.
They need to get the higher of the stoppage battle in opposition to Jaeger O’Meara, Liam Shiels and James Worpel – the Hawks are 18th for clearance differential.
However this sport looks as if one which will probably be gained outdoors the competition. Can the Hawks’ trio of line-breakers – Isaac Smith, Tom Scully and the red-hot Ricky Henderson – have the identical affect on the smaller SCG?
Can Sam Reid and Tom Papley proceed their sturdy goalkicking type?
Oh, and there’s a bloke named Lance who’s working his manner into type after damage hampered his begin to the season.
As is often the case between these sides, this shapes as a battle for who can get the sport on their phrases.
The Hawks will wish to management possession and use their kicking expertise to unfold the sector and hit their forwards in area.
The Swans will wish to muck issues up, power gradual, excessive kicks from the Hawks after which work into an open ahead line the place Buddy and Co. can expose their opponents.
The previous 5 matches between these sides have been determined by single digits and tonight shapes as a equally shut contest. Curiously, the away staff has gained 4 of these 5 video games.
Sydney are in higher type and have the higher inclusions. I feel they’ll get it accomplished at dwelling by a few targets.
That’s my Friday evening forecast. What’s yours?