Battle of the Birds

Touted as one of the games of the season, Friday night’s clash between Sydney and Adelaide did not disappoint.

Three points was all that separated the Swans and Crows in front of 51,000 fans at a buzzing Adelaide Oval.

The game was jam-packed: a spectacular start from the visitors, a hard-fought comeback from the hosts, a goal of the year contender from Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, plenty of controversy and a thrilling finish.

If that game was a sneak peek into the quality of footy we’re to expect this finals series, then sign us up!

But as far as coach John Longmire’s concerned, there’s still a job to do before the Swans look too far ahead and it comes in the form of a Saturday twilight clash against Carlton.

Blues on the bounce

Blues coach Brendan Bolton would be imploring his side to finish a promising season on a high with a strong performance at the SCG on Saturday.

And wouldn’t the Sydney Swans be a huge scalp to take.

They’d be confident, having ended Hawthorn’s finals tilt last weekend with a stirring performance and having beaten the Swans back in Round 6.

Despite sitting 15th on the ladder, there’s plenty to be excited about if you’re a Blues fan.

Carlton’s experienced heads of Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Sam Docherty, Kade Simpson and Matthew Kreuzer are in solid form while youngsters Charlie Curnow, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Jarrod Pickett are going from strength to strength.

Will it be one-way traffic or will Carlton give Sydney a run for its money? All will be answered on Saturday afternoon.

The Sydney Swans leave the MCG following the Round 6 loss to Carlton.

Last time

“It’s unacceptable.”

“We’re playing an unacceptable brand of football; it’s nowhere near the brand we’d like to play.”

“It takes a long time to build develop a brand and reputation as a team and it doesn’t take long to lose that.”

“We’re not playing anywhere near the standard required to compete on a regular basis at AFL level.”

Coach John Longmire was pretty frank in summarising where his side was at following the Round 6 loss to Carlton.

A spiritless performance on that April afternoon at the MCG saw the Sydney Swans plunge to its lowest ebb for quite some time.

Never had a team, since the introduction of the final eight, start a season 0-6 and then made finals.

While there was still hope and belief a miracle could be achieved, the picture looked bleak for the 2016 grand finalists.

Fast forward 16 rounds and the Sydney Swans have re-written history.

They’ve not only locked away a spot in the final eight but are pushing for a place in the top four while forcing the AFL world to realise their premiership credentials.

Lance Franklin and George Hewett celebrate a goal in Round 6.

Can Buddy claim the Coleman?

As it stands, the frontrunners for the goal-kickers’ top gong are West Coast’s Josh Kennedy (64 goals), Essendon’s Joe Daniher (60) and Lance Franklin (59).

Acknowledging the fact Franklin can do anything on his day, he has a huge task ahead of him if he’s any chance of taking home his fourth Coleman Medal.

He’ll need to kick a six-goal haul to simply overtake leader in West Coast’s Josh Kennedy before, hypothetically, adding a few more to stave off any challenges from Kennedy and Daniher.

Kennedy’s Eagles come up against Adelaide in Perth which could present an interesting equation for the reigning Coleman Medallist given he’ll be coming up against the league’s best defence.

He’s good for about a goal per game against the Crows but managed a bag of five last time (Round 23, 2016).

Then there’s Daniher.

Essendon’s Round 23 opponent Fremantle is coming off two consecutive 100-point losses so Daniher’s hopes could come down to how invested the Dockers are in the final round and how effectively they can cut the Bombers’ supply into the forward line.

He kicked three goals last time and could potentially cash in on Essendon’s ride to finals.