The battle between two top-10 2018 AFL Draft picks is among a host of Hot Topics ahead of the Sydney Swans’ clash with Carlton at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

All eyes on victory
Both Sydney and Carlton have their sights firmly fixed on sewing up their first wins of the season in the Round 3 fixture. Swans coach John Longmire said his side was left to rue a lack of intensity at the contest in a season-opening 17-point loss to the Western Bulldogs, before attributing last Friday’s 26-point defeat to the Adelaide Crows to poor execution of fundamental skills. Carlton opened its season with a 33-point loss to Richmond, and Port Adelaide then edged Brendon Bolton’s men by 16 points last Saturday. The Swans are sitting in 14th on the ladder and the Blues are on their heels in 15th

Swans call on three new faces
The Swans will welcome on board three new faces for Saturday’s clash, with young forwards Tom McCartin and Jordan Dawson and recruited defender Jackson Thurlow all set to pull on a Sydney guernsey. Lewis Melican, Colin O’Riordan and Ryan Clarke all faced the Crows last week but will run out for the NEAFL side against GWS on Saturday. The sweep of changes has opened the door for Thurlow to play his first game for the Swans. The 25-year-old stacked up 46 games in Geelong Cats colours before signing with the Swans via last October’s trade period. McCartin will add towering height to Sydney’s forward line, Dawson is likely to bolster the Swans in the forward line and inside and outside of the midfield contest, and Thurlow will work with names like Jarrad McVeigh and Jake Lloyd at half-back. 

Top-10 draft picks lock horns
Two top-10 2018 AFL Draft selections in Sydney forward Nick Blakey (pick 10) and Carlton on-baller Sam Walsh (one) will butt heads in the Marvel Stadium contest. Although the first-year draftees patrol different thirds of the ground, the clash will give the footy world a glimpse of two of the brightest emerging stars in the league. Blakey has opened his first season in the big time with a goal in both matches, and it’s clear it means a lot to him to be joining childhood hero Lance Franklin in Sydney’s forward 50. Walsh, on the other hand, is averaging 24.5 possessions per match after the first two rounds of the season, with the 18-year-old leading Carlton’s midfield brigade alongside the likes of Marc Murphy, Patrick Cripps and Sam Petrevski-Seton. 

Sydney’s glowing Carlton record
The Swans have won nine of their past 10 matches against the Blues dating back to Round 19, 2012. The Swans lay claim to an average winning margin of 35 points in that period, and they pocketed a 30-point victory when the clubs last met at the SCG in Round 11, 2018. Sydney also sailed to a 71-point win in Round 17, 2016 when the Swans and Blues last squared off at the Docklands venue. But despite Sydney’s sparkling recent record against Carlton, Longmire, co-captain Josh Kennedy and star defender Jake Lloyd have all declared this week the Swans are expecting a fierce challenge. 

Melbourne faithful
Longmire’s men regularly sing the praises of the club’s Melbourne faithful, lauding the sea of red and white, full-blooded chants and wholehearted messages on signs. South Melbourne formed in 1874 before relocating to Sydney in 1982 and, as the fact that more than 11,000 Victorian members are on board indicates, support for the Swans south of the border continues to thrive today. Three of the Swans’ first five games of season 2019 were scheduled for Marvel Stadium, with Sydney’s opening-round duel with the Bulldogs, Saturday’s match against Carlton and a stoush with Richmond in Round 5 all in the pipeline before the start of the season. Expect a through-and-through legion of Melbourne-based Swans fans to cheer on the red and white as Sydney eyes its first win of the year on Saturday.