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NEAFL: Swans primed for Grand Final showdown

NEAFL Grand Final Preview SwansTV catches up with Development Coach Tadhg Kennelly ahead of the NEAFL Grand Final tomorrow afternoon.
We trained Wednesday and Friday and trained quite well. We got the Academy boys in for the first time and all trained together and felt like a bit of a club, with a lot of support too from the senior players.
Tadhg Kennelly

Sydney Swans development coach Tadhg Kennelly says his troops are primed for a premiership tilt in a clash with the Southport Sharks on Sunday.

The Swans will face the Sharks in the 2018 NEAFL Grand Final at Fankhauser Reserve on the Gold Coast, a fitting season-decider match-up given Southport and Sydney finished the regular season in first and second respectively.

Kennelly, who’s led the Swans to the Grand Final in his first season at the helm, says his team is ready to go.

“We trained Wednesday and Friday and trained quite well,” Kennelly told SwansTV.

“We got the Academy boys in for the first time and all trained together and felt like a bit of a club, with a lot of support too from the senior players. The senior players came to training, rocked up and were supporting the boys at training and understand it’s a big occasion for the football Club. They’re right behind the NEAFL players.”

The Swans bagged a 56-point preliminary final victory over the Canberra Demons in Blacktown last Saturday to snare their Grand Final ticket.

They have made three changes to their line-up for the big dance, with dangerous midfielder Jordan Dawson and QBE Sydney Swans Academy duo Josh Rayner and Jeremy Shumack all returning. 

Dawson will bring invaluable AFL experience to the Swans’ set-up and Kennelly is thrilled he’s available.

“He’s a big inclusion,” Kennelly said.

“He’s going to be able to mix it with (star Southport midfielders) Andrew Boston and Josh Clayton. He’ll bring a bigger body to our side, which is certainly what you need in grand finals and any game with contested footy.

“That’s what Jordan will bring for us on Sunday and we’re quite excited he’ll be able to run out in the Grand Final.”

Ruckman Darcy Cameron and captain Colin O’Riordan bring plenty of threat to the Swans’ line-up themselves.

The star Swans both made their AFL debuts this season and both made the cut for the NEAFL Team of the Year, with Cameron also finishing runner-up in the NEAFL MVP.

Cameron’s duel with formidable Southport big man Fraser Thurlow looms large, while O’Riordan will be out to steady Sydney’s ball movement from defence and cut off as much of the Sharks’ go-forward as possible.

The Swans (147.8) are ranked first in the competition in contested possession and the Sharks second (147.4).

Dawson and Academy graduate Jake Brown lead the way for Sydney at the coalface of the contest, while Boston and Clayton carry Southport’s mantle.

Kennelly has continually underscored the importance of intensity at the contest this season and says that’s again the focus ahead of Sunday’s game.

“It’s going to be a contested brand of football,” Kennelly said.

“That’s the way they play their football and it’s how we play ours. It’s going to be no different in the Grand Final.

“We’re all about the processes behind how we play. Just because it’s the Grand Final doesn’t mean we’re going to change. It’s the way we’ve played our football the whole year.”

Southport booked its place in the Grand Final with a 37-point win over the Aspley Hornets at Fankhauser Reserve last Saturday.

Kennelly is under no illusion the Sharks will make for a tough test but backs his chargers to be up for the fight. 

“They’ve got a really strong outfit and it’s going to be a big challenge for us in their backyard up in Southport,” Kennelly said.

“But we’re not afraid. We have a good record away from home and we’ve played some really good team football over the last six weeks.”

Who: Southport Sharks v Sydney Swans

Where: Fankhauser Reserve, Gold Coast 

When: 1pm, Sunday


Sydney Swans team:

B: 51. Conor Flanagan 48. Kyle Veerhuis 53. Kyle McKellar
HB: 33. Ryley Stoddart 21. Jack Maibaum 56. Joey Reinhard
C: 52. Josh Stern 45. Angus Styles 1. James Rose
HF: 41. Jake Brown 34. Jordan Dawson 50. Sam Wicks
F: 55. Bailey Stewart 58. Mitchell Rogers 49. Cooper Kilpatrick
Foll: 17. Darcy Cameron 32. James Bell 38. Colin O’Riordan

Inter: 60. Hamish Ellem 47. Ky McGrath 59. Josh Rayner 54. Jeremy Schumack

Emer: 57. Michael Carroll 19. Luke Parks 46. Dylan Smith