The Sydney Swans’ clash with the Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday is brimming with Hot Topics.

Recent Swans-Cats history, a defender’s impressive milestone, a salivating midfield battle and plenty more surround the Round 6 clash.

A fierce rivalry
The Swans and Cats are set to resume an intense modern-day rivalry. The wins are split down the middle from the past 10 matches, while both sides have enjoyed a win the past two times Sydney and Geelong have met in finals. The Swans bagged a 37-point victory in a 2016 preliminary final and the Cats collected a 59-point win in a semi-final in 2017. Current form promises to add to the battle as both sides are heading into the game with three wins and two losses to their names. 

Nick Smith = Mr Consistency
Swans defender Nick Smith will reach 50 consecutive AFL games on Saturday. The 29-year-old debuted in 2008 and hasn’t missed a regular-season or finals match since Round 1 of 2016. Fellow backman Heath Grundy (70) leads the Swans in most consecutive games, while midfielder Luke Parker and forward Lance Franklin haven’t missed a game in 55 matches. The Swans conceded the least amount of points in 2017 and Smith was a crucial cog in the side’s strong defence. 

Midfield battle
The Swans have come to a head with a number of dazzling midfields in 2018 but on-baller Luke Parker said they were set to face the best in the competition in Geelong. Eight-time All-Australian Gary Ablett (hamstring) will miss the match, but one-time Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield and skipper Joel Selwood will make for a difficult test. Midfield understudy Sam Menegola also brings plenty to the Cats’ ball-winning capacity and collected 27 disposals in Geelong’s win over Port Adelaide last Saturday. Swans captain Josh Kennedy and fellow on-baller Luke Parker will headline a Sydney midfield looking to bounce back from the 10-point loss to Adelaide. 

Forward line shake-up
The absence of Swans forward Lance Franklin (heel) will make for a new look up forward and could alter the side’s style. Franklin (18 goals) is running second in the race for the Coleman Medal and his contested grab is one of the best in the league. Expect the side’s smaller forwards – the likes of Kieren Jack, Tom Papley and Will Hayward – to play bigger roles in the absence of the 878-goal champion. Their tackling pressure will be pivotal as the Swans look to lock the ball inside 50 and their crumbing at the contest will also need to factor. The midfield might also look to deliver the ball lower and harder when entering inside 50 to capitalise on the Swans’ smaller and quicker forward line.