AFL Finals Match Previews: QF1, Sydney v GWS Giants

Who here thinks we need a decent name for the Sydney derby? Battle of the Bridge just doesn’t cut it for me.

Regardless, here is the third of our four match previews for this week. If it’s not as good as the other two, it’s probably because I had to rush it a bit (limited computer time on weekends, a long, long story).

The Basics

  • Who: Sydney Swans v Greater Western Sydney Giants
  • Where: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
  • When: 3:20pm today
  • This year: SYD 14.9 (93) d GWS 10.8.68, R3, SCG; GWS 15.15 (105) d SYD 9.9 (63), R12, Spotless
  • Winner gets: A preliminary final against the Bulldogs or Hawthorn
  • Loser gets: A semi final against either Adelaide or North Melbourne
  • Watch it on: Seven
  • Listen to it on: Triple M, 3AW, SEN, ABC

Teams

Sydney

  • FB: Rampe, Aliir, Smith
  • HB: Lloyd, Grundy, Mills
  • C: Heeney, Kennedy, McVeigh
  • HF: Rohan, Franklin, Hewett
  • FF: McGlynn, Tippett, Parker
  • FOL: Naismith, Jack, Hannebery
  • INT: Marsh, Mitchell1, Papley, Richards
  • In: Mills
  • Out: Cunnigham (Omitted)

GWS Giants

  • FB: Shaw, Davis, Haynes
  • HB: Patfull, Tomlinson, Wilson
  • C: Williams, Ward, Kelly
  • HF: Greene, Lobb, Cameron
  • FF: Whitfield, Patton, Smith
  • FOL: Mumford2, Shiel, Coniglio
  • INT: Hopper, Johnson, Scully, Griffen
  • No change

Mildly Relevant Statistics

  • GWS has 16 wins in 2016.
  • I would do more, but I ran out of time.

More Relevant Statistics

  • Last 10 Against Each Other: Sydney 8, GWS Giants 2
  • Last 10 At Venue: Sydney 6-4, GWS Giants 0-3
  • Form: Sydney WWWWW, GWS Giants WWLWW
  • Record v Top 8: Sydney 6-4, GWS Giants 5-4

Finals Against Each Other

Well, since GWS hasn’t played any finals…

Match Preview

Ah, yes, the Giants finally become finalists. It took them five years, which is about midrange. I did numbers on that, but a WordPress glitch on my iPad took it all away :(.

Anyway, they’re playing off against their older brothers, the Swans, who are looking to continue their streak of making Grand Finals in even numbered seasons.

We’ll look at Sydney’s forward line first. And when you look at the Sydney forward line, the first person you notice is the big man in the #23 at centre half forward. Lance Franklin has hardly missed a beat since leaving Hawthorn ahead of 2014, with a premiership the only major thing missing.

Don’t think he’s all on his own, though. He has the help of Kurt Tippet, Luke Parker, and Ben McGlynn, all giving him someone to aim at if he’s too far out (although he never really is, is he?)

Of course, GWS’s defense needs to stack up against this. And sadly for them, it doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to. Heath Shaw, a double All-Australian, is possibly the best player in GWS’s history at this point, and he has the strong support of Phil Davis, but the Swans have too much firepower, in my opinion.

The Giants have plenty of attacking prowess themselves, meanwhile. Steve Johnson, Jeremy Cameron, Jonathan Patton, Toby Greene, Lachie Whitfield, and their teammates are one of the reasons why everyone is scared to death of GWS for the years ahead.

Sydney certainly has a good defensive lineup themselves, though, one that now includes a NAB Rising Star winner. Mills, along with Heath Grundy, Dane Rampe, and the mid-season relevation of Aliir Aliir, is able to stop most of the players who come his way, as their incredible percentage, 151.2%, suggests.

The Giants have a higher average score than everyone except Adelaide, and because they have a proven record of overrunning nearly everyone, I think GWS will win it here, meaning the match should be decided in the midfield.

Is there a better midfield line than Isaac Heeney, Jarrad McVeigh, and Josh P. Kennedy? Kennedy is the latest of the superstars in the famed Hawthorn clan, and Isaac Heeney is already carving it up at the age of twenty. McVeigh is a premiership captain, and with Keiran Jack and Daniel Hannebery, the Swans midfield is possibly the strongest in the competition.

GWS has Shane Mumford, an absolute gun of a ruckman. Callan Ward and Dylan Shiel are also stars, but nearly everyone in the GWS lineup can run through the midfield. Unfortunately, Sydney just has too many top players for the Giants, and I think this is why they will win the midfield battle.

What The Numbers Say

First, a caveat: GWS has only played 3 matches at ANZ Stadium (or Stadium Australia, or Sydney Olympic Stadium…I don’t know?). I had to extrapolate from this, but since they lost all of them, that gives a result of 0.

After this, Sydney has a 66.7% chance of victory.

What I Say

GWS is going to give Sydney the ride of their life, but the Swans have been the best team this year for good reason. I think that the end result will be Sydney by 18.


1This isn’t cricket, is it?
2Fitting his 150th is against his old club.

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