Reason to believe
The Sydney Swans not only claimed back-to-back wins but, in many ways, re-claimed a match-winning edge evidently lacking in the first six rounds of the season.
Led by the midfielders, who even by their own admission were down on their usual output during such time, Sydney got back to basics to ultimately outmuscle North Melbourne at Docklands.
The Swans are back there again, this time for their Round 9 clash against of the competition’s form sides in St Kilda on Saturday afternoon.
Jake Lloyd admits the short turnaround will be challenging but is confident the team can emulate the same performance that downed the Roos last weekend to help deliver their third-straight win and keep the season alive.
It was good while it lasted.
Jarrad McVeigh’s two games were fruitful but unfortunately the former skipper will miss one week, possibly two given his recent history with soft-tissue concerns, after suffering a hamstring strain against North Melbourne.
The veteran soldiered on for the benefit of the team, staying on the field despite copping the injury mid-game, a selfless decision which proved crucial to rotations.
The Swans’ depth means his omission can be covered but it’s his smarts, experience and leadership which will be difficult to replace.
Fingers crossed it’s only a week before we see the No. 3 return.
Jarrad McVeigh kicked two goals but was hampered by a hamstring strain during last weekend's win.
Rampin’ it up
Could Round 9 see the long-awaited return of Dane Rampe?
The All Australian defender hasn’t played since breaking his arm in a freak training accident in the wake of the Swans’ Round 1 loss.
Seven weeks later, after “a flawless rehab,” head of football Tom Harley deemed the 26-year-old fit, firing and available for selection.
“It's a credit to Dane in how he's handled (his rehab)," Harley said in this week's HCF Injury Update.
"The bone he broke, just below the elbow, has totally healed. He's been training and been running for a long time now so conditioning isn't an issue.
“He'll ramp up all his football-type skills this week and he'll be a test. It'll be great to see him out there this week if he can get through."
Alongside Rampe, the cavalry looks to be returning with trio Kurt Tippett, Gary Rohan and Aliir Aliir also pushing for a recall after strong performances in last weekend’s NEAFL clash in Canberra.
Does match committee roll the dice on Dame Rampe, who last played in Round 1.
Stopping the Saints’ forwards?
Behind Adelaide, St Kilda’s forward line is one of the competition’s most dangerous.
They average the second most marks inside 50 (13.8) with Nick Reiwoldt, Josh Bruce, and former Swan Tim Membrey all providing strong targets for their up-and-coming midfielders.
St Kilda’s quick ball movement can catch even the most structured defence off guard so the likes of Heath Grundy, Lewis Melican and co will need to be at their miserly best to stop them.
Intercept marking, such a strength for the Swans in recent seasons and a key to last weekend’s win, will also be important to dismantling the Saints’ arsenal.
The addition of Paddy McCartin (if the early selection news is true) will also give the Swans’ match committee something to think about.
They're in favour of the Sydney Swans having won the past six encounters against St Kilda, and eight of the last nine, the last four decided by an average of 59 points.
Last time, in Round 21 at Docklands, ended in a 70-point win to the visitors with Lance Franklin (six goals, 28 disposals) starring.
Docklands doesn't hold too many demons for the Swans either having won 26 of 46 matches there. The Saints on the other hand have a 56 per cent winning average at their home deck (124 from 219 matches).
When it comes to the last four at Docklands between the two sides, the Swans hold sway with three wins.
Kurt Tippett kicked four goals and collected 22 touches in last weekend's NEAFL win in Canberra - will the big fella be back for Round 9?