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NEAFL: Hot Topics

NEAFL Review Rd 6 - 15th May 2018 Angus Styles reviews the Round 6 clash between the Swans and the Giants.

The Sydney Swans’ clash with the Southport Sharks at the SCG on Saturday is bursting with Hot Topics. 

The Swans will host the table-topping Sharks in an AFL curtain-raiser to the senior side’s match with Fremantle.

The reserves secured their first win of the season in a 31-point victory over the Giants at Spotless Stadium last Saturday and are eying back-to-back wins.

The curtain-raiser will give Swans players on the brink of senior selection an opportunity to stake their AFL claims. The likes of Nic Newman, Harry Marsh, Aliir Aliir, Darcy Cameron and Colin O’Riordan will welcome the chance to impress the senior coaching panel. The Swans fell to a four-point loss to the Giants in a Round 1 curtain-raiser and the Aspley Hornets in a one-point defeat in a Round 5 curtain-raiser and will be looking to close out the game as they bring in the main show for the third time this season. 

A match with the ladder-leaders
Southport sits atop the ladder after the opening six rounds. The Sharks are level on 20 points with Sydney University but have a percentage of 164.85. They have won five games and lost one ahead of Round 7 and are flying off the back of a 73-point win over the Northern Territory on the Gold Coast. Sydney claimed the minor premiership in 2017 and is eyeing victory over this year’s front-runners. 

Experienced cogs firing
Newman, Marsh, Aliir, Cameron and O’Riordan will all take superb form into the clash with Southport. Newman is running third in the competition for most disposals per game (35) and collected 40 touches, 10 marks and eight tackles in the Swans’ win over the Giants last Saturday. Marsh (38 possessions, nine marks, seven tackles, two goals) produced a stellar showing of his own in the Giants clash, while Aliir kept destructive forward Jon Patton goalless and finished with 14 touches. Cameron has been a stand-out in the ruck in the early stages of the season and again recorded 14 disposals, 21 hit-outs and two goals as he went toe-to-toe with one of the best ruckman in the competition in Dawson Simpson. The towering Swan is averaging 28 hit-outs per game and is having more of an impact on the scoreboard than all other primary ruckmen in the competition (1.4 per game). O’Riordan is enjoying an outstanding start to the Swans’ 2018 campaign in his third season in Swans colours. Neither Cameron nor O’Riordan have made their AFL debuts but the Irishman continued to press his claims in the Giants match in a return of 33 possessions, 12 marks, five tackles and a soaring fourth-term goal from outside 50. Expect the AFL hopefuls to again impress on Saturday as Sydney looks to topple the front-runners. 

Starring top-ups
A total of 21 QBE Sydney Swans Academy stars have buoyed the NEAFL side this season along with a host of talent pulled from a variety of Sydney clubs. Sixteen-year-old Academy member Hamish Ellem made his NEAFL debut in Sydney’s clash with Aspley and finished with 13 touches and a pair of goals. Seven Academy players had made their NEAFL debuts in a clash with the Gold Coast Suns the week prior and again held their own in a brave nine-point loss. Western Suburbs livewire Adam Tipungwuti, a cousin of Essendon star Anthony McDonald Tipungwuiti, starred for the Swans on debut on the weekend in a return of 16 touches and a game-high three goals and seven inside 50s. The newcomer brought blistering speed and exceptional crumbing pulled off a number of forward-pocket miracles. Keep an eye on the Round 7 top-ups as another star could emerge.

Muzzling Mitch
Leading Southport goal-kicker Mitch Johnson isn’t to be mistaken for the former Australian quick, but the Berwick product has wreaked havoc of his own in 2018. The 23-year-old has bagged 23 goals from six games to be running second behind Redland juggernaut Matthew Hammelmann (25). Johnson finished with a bag of eight in his side’s win last Saturday as Southport soared to a 27.12 (174) to 16.5 (101) victory over the Northern Territory. He stands at just 180 centimetres and weighs in at just 84 kilograms, but applies manic pressure at the contest, is lightning-quick and is clean off the boot. Defenders Marsh, Newman, O’Riordan and Aliir await a challenge they are sure to relish if on NEAFL duty.