A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
So much about getting to the big dance is about timing. Obviously you need the depth and the talent to make the top 4 but with such an even competition the deciding factor can be a combination of form, injuries and luck.
The Swans made light work of the Roos after a week break and comfortably took care of Fremantle in the Qualifying final. After Round 4, they have only been beaten by the Hawks at the MCG and Richmond in that final round epic at the SCG without Buddy and co. It is very difficult to punch holes in their form card. They have arguably progressed from last season where they ran out of steam late in the year and were no match for Ross Lyon’s boys who were running hot.
The Hawks are close behind the Swans with 5 losses coming to top teams (North, Sydney, Geelong, Fremantle and Port) whilst dealing with a plethora of injuries to star players. They have won 8 of their past 9 (only loss to Fremantle in Perth) and their last 4 wins have all been at the MCG. Roughead, Gunston and Bruest have been prolific without Buddy and the back 6 is solidified with a fit Brian Lake back in the side.
What the betting says (Sydney -7.5)
The Sydney Swans have really been a juggernaut this season. Since a few early hiccups, including that round 1 loss to GWS (remember that? Didn’t think so), the Swans have shown why they are the favourites to win the premiership. They have gone 12-10 against the spread in the regular season and 2-0 in the finals series so far. They have been favourite in every game this season except against Fremantle in Round 5 where they won the game by 17 points as 8.5 point outsiders.
The Hawks have quietly progressed through the season covering injured stars and easily slotting into a top 4 spot. They went 13-9 against the spread in the regular season and are 1-1 in the finals series.
In their two meetings this year the teams alternated favouritism as the away teams.
Round 8 @ ANZ – Hawthorn -6.5
Round 18 @ MCG – Sydney -2.5
In those games the home team (the roughie) came out on top in tight battles. The Swans in round 8 by 19 points and the Hawks in round 18 by 10 points. Form and injuries at those points in the season really dictated those lines as you can tell by the home team not even starting favourite.
Here we have the Swans a -7.5 favourite, so what do we do? You will remember last year we thought the bookies had given way too much love to Fremantle and predicted a comfortable cover for the Hawks. This year it is not so cut and dry.
Everyone will remember the last quarter of the Hawks against the rampaging Port Power. That will be fresh in the minds of the $50 punter and they will likely favour the Sydney-siders. There is a lot more to like about Sydney than just recent form though I think the Bookies know this too and hence pushed the line outside of a straight kick.
This year as small outsiders, the Hawks have not been able to get the job done.
(+7.5) Round 21 @ Fremantle (lost by 19 points)
(+12.5) Round 10 @ Port Adelaide (lost by 14 points)
Will we see them fail again where the Bookies are predicting a loss?
The value seems to be lost on the Swans and I can only imagine the line climbing closer to -10.5 by first bounce. I would prefer to play around with some Norm Smith bets and perhaps a couple of other proposition bets on the day for some pizza money.
I think this game has the potential to be a classic Grand Final. The eye test points to Sydney. They have been consistent in the mould of the Paul Roos teams in the 2000s. Much of their impetus comes from their superstars like McVeigh, Kennedy and Hannebery but also huge contributions from the likes of Parker, Smith and McGlynn make them so hard to stop.
Hawthorn need to find a way to get on top in the midfield and try to test the Swans defence. If Bruest and Gunston can get on top of Smith and Grundy they may be able to put some scoreboard pressure on the Swans.
Winner – Sydney Swans (4 points)
Norm Smith Medal – Luke Parker