The rematch of the big dance
It has been 6 months since the Western Bulldog’s fairy tale premiership upset over the Sydney Swans, and this Friday night the Swans have a chance at redemption in the blockbuster round 2 match-up at Etihad stadium.
The Bulldogs are coming off a narrow win over Collingwood last Friday, in which flashes of brilliance in patches of the game (highlighted by Matt Suckling, Jason Johannisen and Marcus Bontempelli) was somewhat overshadowed by the Bulldog’s losses around the ground, which included being beaten in key areas like disposals, inside 50s, clearances and hit outs, convincingly, by the Pies.
The Swans are looking to bounce back after a shock loss to Port Adelaide on their home turf of the SCG with stars like Dan Hannebery and Kurt Tippett looking to improve after poor performances, whilst the usual suspects of Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker look to continue their good form from round 1.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
It will be interesting to see how the Dogs handle Josh Kennedy after his Norm Smith medal-worthy performance in last year’s grand final (34 disposals, 3 goals) and considering they also had trouble with another elite midfielder last week in Scott Pendlebury.
Forgotten Bulldogs defender Marcus Adams is almost certain to get the green light to play against the Swans after veteran Dale Morris suffered a leg injury that will keep him out for 8-10 weeks. Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said Adams “was a similar role player” to Morris. Adams was a revelation for the Dogs during the 2016 season, averaging 16 disposals as a key defender and also shutting down some of the league’s best forwards including Taylor Walker and Josh Kennedy (West Coast) before injury saw him miss the latter part of 2016. Does he take the huge task of playing on Lance Franklin in his first game back?
THE BATTLE IN THE MIDFIELD
Both sides have some of the best midfielders in the competition, as it was on full display in last year’s grand final. How will Sydney’s experience and class of players like Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery and Kieren Jack match up against the toughness and grit of Bulldogs’ midfielders Tom Liberatore, Luke Dahlhaus and Marcus Bontempelli?
Both sides were convincingly beaten in their midfields last week, with Bulldog’s coach Luke Beveridge saying: “We felt that Collingwood had an edge there (midfield stoppages) so we need to improve in that area.”
DOGS DOMINANCE AT ETIHAD STADIUM
The Dogs have won their last 3 games against the Swans, with none of those taking place at Etihad stadium. Sydney coach John Longmire said of the Bulldogs style during the week: “They play a strong brand of footy, it was a really up tempo game (Bulldogs vs Collingwood) and they’re as good as an opposition as they were last year.”
The Dogs had a 10-4 record at Etihad last season, however the Swan’s haven’t lost at the Docklands for 5 years, it will be interesting to see who can take advantage of the slick, fast-paced surface at Etihad.
Friday night also will shape up to be one of the most special moments in Bulldogs history as they unfurl the 2016 premiership flag, with Luke Beveridge hoping it will be a moment for his fans to saviour.
The first bounce will be at 7:50pm.