AFL Finals Match Previews: SF1, Sydney v Adelaide

Here’s Finals Match Preview No. 6/9, coming at you from the Statscrunch CEO’s desk in our offices. (Note: we don’t actually have offices, I’m writing this from my bedroom.)

After the incredible result last night, which ended the Hawthorn dynasty, we’re moving on to the other semi final, one which is under a lot less hype, but should still be good to watch: Sydney v Adelaide.

The Basics

  • Who: Sydney Swans v Adelaide Crows
  • Where: Sydney Cricket Ground
  • When: 7.25pm tonight
  • This year: ADEL 16.17 (113) d SYD 15.13 (103), R4, Adelaide
  • Winner gets: A preliminary final against Geelong
  • Loser gets: Eliminated
  • Watch it on: Seven
  • Listen to it on: 3AW, Triple M, SEN, ABC

Teams

Sydney

  • FB: Smith, Grundy, Rampe
  • HB: Marsh, Aliir, McVeigh
  • C: Heeney, Kennedy, Lloyd
  • HF: Hewett, Franklin, Parker
  • FF: Mitchell, Rohan, Richards
  • FOL: Naismith, Hannebery, Jack
  • INT: Laidler, McGlynn, Nankervis, Papley
  • In: Laidler, Nankervis
  • Out: Tippet (Jaw), Mills (Hamstring)

Adelaide

  • FB: Brown, Talia, Laird
  • HB: Smith, Hartigan, Cheney
  • C: Atkins, Sloane, Mackay
  • HF: Betts, Walker, Cameron
  • FF: Lyons, Jenkins, Lynch
  • FOL: Jacobs, M Crouch, Douglas
  • INT: Crouch, Thompson, Lever, McGovern
  • No change

Relevant Statistics

  • Last 10 Against Each Other: Sydney 5, Adelaide 5
  • Last 10 At Venue: Sydney 8-2, Adelaide 6-4
  • Recent Form: Sydney WWWWL, Adelaide WWWLW
  • Record v Top 8: Sydney 6-5, Adelaide 5-6

Finals Against Each Other

  • 1998 Semi Final: Adelaide 14.10.94 (P Vardy 6 goals, M Ricciuto 24 disposals) d Sydney 10.7.67 (M O’Loughlin 3 goals, W Schwass 25 disposals)
  • 2012 Qualifying Final: Sydney 11.5.71 (A Goodes 3 goals, R O’Keefe 37 disposals) d Adelaide 5.12.42 (Five players 1 goal, S Thompson 28 disposals)

My AFL Fantasy Matchday Team

Here’s another team for you.

  • DEF: McVeigh (SYD), Laird (ADEL)
  • MID: Hannebery (SYD) (c), Heeney (SYD)
  • RUC: Jacobs (ADEL)
  • FWD: Franklin (SYD), Betts (ADEL)

Match Preview

Sydney was crunched last week, in more ways than one. Rising Star winner Callum Mills injured his hamstring, Kurt Tippett is out with a jaw injury sustained in a sling tackle from Shane Mumford (that Mumford was lucky not to get suspended for), and Josh Kennedy was visibly shaky on his feet after copping a bump from Steve Johnson. And that was just the injuries. GWS outplayed Sydney, with the Swans never able to get the momentum that they needed to overcome their cross-town neighbours, and now bitter enemies.

Adelaide, meanwhile, was never in doubt when it came to beating North Melbourne in their elimination final, and they’re in hot form ahead of this clash.

We’ll look at Sydney’s defense, and Adelaide’s attack, first. And my, oh my, Eddie Betts is in unbelievable form. He’s kicked 72 goals this year, which is more than any Adelaide player outside of Tony Modra in history. And he’s not alone. Taylor Walker, Charlie Cameron, and Josh Jenkins all have attacking prowess bubbling close to the surface, and this is more reason Adelaide is the highest scoring team in the competition.

They’re coming up against Sydney, who have the best defense. Plenty of finals games are the best attacking team against the best defensive one, and they are usually classics. In most of these cases, the best defensive team is on top for most of the season, before falling at the final hurdle. Sydney’s defense does look good, but Adelaide came out on top earlier this year, and they’ll be able to do the same again.

Onto the Sydney attack. Sydney has a potent forward line, but it is mostly reliant on Lance Franklin. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Franklin can be a gamechanger, but when he struggles to get off the ground, Sydney struggles as well.

The problem for Adelaide is that they don’t appear to have anyone who will be able to take on and beat Buddy. He should kick at least three goals in this game, but he’ll require a contribution from his teammates. Isaac Heeney will help goalscoring; Luke Parker, Tom Mitchell, and XavierRichards will kick a few, and Sydney should win, narrowly, this side of the ground.

The midfield battle is where Sydney will need to make up ground if they want to win this game. And make up ground it will, with Heeney, Kennedy, Dan Hannebery, and Keiren Jack winning the ball and pushing it out of defense and into attack.

To do that, they have to take on Adelaide’s midfield, which hasn’t missed a beat since it lost Patrick Dangerfield. As we commented last week, the two Rorys will do plenty for Adelaide, with David Mackay and Matt Crouch on the sidelines. As good as they are, you get the feeling that they won’t quite be able to draw level with Sydney.

The ruck contest should be interesting, in that it pits Sam Naismith, who has played soccer, cricket, tennis, both rugbys, and Australian football for various local clubs, against Sam Jacobs, who is Adelaide’s best ruck hope, and will be going it practically alone in the absence of Kurt Tippett. Jacobs set Adelaide’s record for most hitouts in a season last year, and looks like he will probably be able to hold of Naismith, whose inexperience may bite back at this point.

What The Numbers Say

This numbers say that this game is going to be unbelieveably close. It gives Sydney a 50.4% chance of winning, but that’s less than one part in 100. If there were 100 games between these two teams, based on this, it would be exactly even. Too close to call.

What I Say

The way Sydney played last week wasn’t good enough for a finals team, and they’re going to be outplayed by Adelaide, looking at their recent form. Two straight set exits in two years for the Swans. Adelaide by 4.

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