AFL Round 4 Preview: West Coast v Sydney

WHERE: Domain Stadium, Thursday, April 13, 6.10pm AWST

THE LAST FIVE
R5, 2016: Sydney 12.16 (88) def West Coast 7.7 (49) at the SCG
R17, 2015: West Coast 15.13 (103) def Sydney 7.9 (51) at Domain Stadium
R16, 2014: Sydney 10.19 (79) def West Coast 7.9 (51) at Domain Stadium
R17, 2013: Sydney 17.11 (113) def West Coast 11.13 (79) at Domain Stadium
R16, 2012: Sydney 18.13 (121) def West Coast 10.9 (69) at Domain Stadium

OVERVIEW

If Sydney loses any more games to start 2017, they might have to think about rebranding as the Sydney Ducks. The Swans haven’t started a season 0-3 in 18 years, and with West Coast and GWS to come, they could be looking at their worst start to a season since they went a whopping 0-11 in 1993, as part of a 26-game losing streak.

While the Eagles may have started 2-1 this year, they are not without problems of their own. Inaccuracy cost West Coast four premiership points against Richmond, but it was the Eagles’ lack of speed and hunger around the contest that was more worrisome.

Although Sydney is winless so far in 2017, they have not been too far off the pace, narrowly losing to both Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. We all know Sydney love tight, physical contests, so a five-day break and travel following a brutal encounter against Richmond for the Eagles should work in Sydney’s favour.

TALKING POINTS

1. Through the first three rounds of 2017, West Coast is 18th and 15th in contested possessions and tackles per game, respectively. Sydney, on the other hand, is 4th and 3rd in both those categories.

2. In years gone by, Domain Stadium has been affectionately known as The House of Pain, with both West Coast and Fremantle sporting healthy records at the ground. If Domain Stadium truly is The House of Pain, Sydney must be the AFL’s ultimate masochists, having won five of their last six games against the Eagles in Perth.

3. As a coach, John ‘Horse’ Longmire has never lost four games in a row. John Longmire looks like an angry man; I would not like to be in the Sydney stable locker room after the game if they lose to West Coast this week.

4. Running bounces are not the most scrutinised statistic in the game. When it comes to the Sydney Swans, however, bounces are a clear indicator of style they like to play. Want to guess how many bounces Sydney has taken so far in 2017? Three. Yes, for every loss Sydney has had in 2017, they have bounced the ball once.  For comparison, Gold Coast’s Adam Saad has bounced the ball a league-leading 24 times on his own.

5. For a team that hangs their hat on contested ball, Sydney is struggling in the middle this year. Through the first three rounds, Sydney is 15th for centre clearances. Tom Mitchell would look real nice next to Dan Hannebery and Josh Kennedy right about now. Seriously, West Coast is ranked 8th and they had Drew Petrie in the ruck in round one.

MOST AT STAKE FOR… Liam Duggan and Sam Butler.

West Coast was criticised for their lack of hardness around the ball last week, which may be the reason the Eagles have elected to go with Liam Duggan over Dom Sheed. Duggan may be young but he is not afraid to put his head over the footy, and he will be hoping a strong performance will lead to more regular games at AFL level.

Let us not beat around the bush: Sam Butler is old. He will be hoping his experience down back can sure up the Eagles’ leaky defence. If not, he might find himself as a full-time podcast host alongside an out-of-favour Will Schofield.

TIP: West Coast by 7.

SECOND TIP: Lewis Jetta finally takes a running bounce… in the WAFL.

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