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“You don't understand. 

I coulda had class. 

I coulda been a contender. 

I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.” - Marlon Brando playing boxer Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront 

This is the time of year in football terms when the contenders separate themselves from the also rans. Last weekend’s results including one that rightly or wrongly, for the second week running, was determined by a goal umpire’s interpretation of an event that took place right in front of his eyes, has ensured that only one team in the competition can enter the ranks of the contenders from the outside. The rest will be considered by many in the football world as bums planning their campaigns for the future. 

For the third consecutive season, the Demons remain contenders and given their top four finish, they are strong contenders now. Their game in Sydney against another contender in the Sydney Swans, won’t change that but it would be unwise to consider the contest simply as a dead rubber. 

They still have their eyes on a top-two finish and home qualifying final but, because their final game for the season will be played out on Sunday afternoon, that issue might have been decided by then and they could well be already locked into fourth spot.

The Swans are on a roll with six wins in a row. They can still finish anywhere between fifth and eighth and will be anxious for another scalp, particularly against a top four team in circumstances that could land them a much-prized home game elimination final.

Whatever the case, there is an overriding principle at stake being that, while you don’t want to show your cards early or lose players with injury at the pointy end of the season, you don’t want to flirt with form either. History has proven that on numerous occasions.

And even at this time of year, both clubs have many things to prove as their preparation for the finals ramp up. 

In Melbourne’s case, it has still yet to settle the all-important forward line up which appeared to have been fixed until Harrison Petty’s season-ending injury a few weeks ago. Bayley Fritsch is set to return this week, but will the Demons also give premiership big man Tom McDonald an opportunity to show his wares at the same time? What balance will be struck between the club’s midfield and the move of Christian Petracca for moments up forward and how to run Clayton Oliver into peak fitness and form on his return after such a long layoff? How does Simon Goodwin manage his ruck set up with the Gawn/Grundy experiment desperately in need of resolution (if that hasn’t yet been determined)? 

At the time of writing, the next day on which rain is predicted on the ten-day weather forecast for Sydney happens to be this Sunday.  If the weather gurus turn out to be correct, then it will give the Demons the opportunity to dispel as a myth the idea that the team can’t perform in the wet. The last time they were called upon to do that was in the 2021 Anzac Eve clash when they demolished the reigning premiers Richmond and went on to win the flag. 

So, while many might claim that this game has no meaning, the Demons need to play like true contenders in all aspects of the game, rain, hail, or shine. That’s always been the Goodwin way and has particularly been the case in the past three seasons when his charges have always been in the competition’s top echelon. It will continue this week and deeply into September.

Melbourne by 10 points.

THE GAME    

Sydney Swans v Melbourne at the SCG Sunday 27 August 2023 at 3.20pm      

HEAD TO HEAD     

Overall Sydney Swans 117 wins Melbourne 95 wins 2 drawn    
At SCG Sydney Swans 14 wins Melbourne 8 wins   
Last 5 meetings Sydney Swans 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins  
The Coaches Longmire 7 wins Goodwin 3 wins  

THE LAST TIME THEY MET 

Melbourne 21.8.134 defeated Sydney Swans 12.12.84 in Round 3 2023 at the MCG      

The Demons were keen to avenge their loss to the Swans in last year’s qualifying final and, after a strong start and a keen tussle, they blew their opponents off the park with a 50-point shellacking on the MCG. Christian Petracca starred with 33 touches and, in the absence of Max Gawn who was injured the week before in Brisbane, Brodie Grundy starred with 25 hit outs to go with his 21 disposals.

THE TEAMS 

SYDNEY SWANS 

B T. McCartin D. Rampe H. Cunningham
HB O. Florent N. Blakey J. Lloyd 
C E. Gulden C. Warner D. Stephens
HF W. Hayward H. McLean I. Heeney 
F L. McDonald J. Amartey R. Clarke
FOLL T. Hickey L. Parker C. Mills
I/C B. Campbell R. Fox J. Rowbottom S. Wicks SUB A. Francis EMG L.Melican M.Roberts

IN J.Amartey 

OUT T. Papley (hamstring) 

MELBOURNE
 

B J. Bowey S. May T. Rivers
HB J. McVee J. Lever C. Salem
C L. Hunter J. Viney A. Brayshaw
HF K. Chandler J. Melksham A. Neal-Bullen 
F E. Langdon J. van Rooyen K. Pickett
FOLL M. Gawn C. Oliver C. Petracca 
I/C B. Fritsch J. Smith T. Sparrow D. Turner SUB B. Laurie EMG T. McDonald A. Tomlinson T. Woewodin

IN B. Fritsch D. Turner

OUT J. Schache (omitted) A. Tomlinson (omitted)

Injury List: Round 24

Bayley Fritsch - Foot | Test
Michael Hibberd - Concussion | 1 - 2 Weeks
Ben Brown - Knee | TBC
Blake Howes - Hand | Season 
Harrison Petty - Foot | Season 
Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season

PreviewRd242023.png

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      PLAYER INJURY LENGTH
    Daniel Turner Hip Available
    Shane McAdam Hamstring 2-3 Weeks
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