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Uphill battle for Sydney, Dockers in prime position

With the Hawthorn clash against Geelong attracting all the attention, we mustn’t forget that the Fremantle versus Sydney clash is shaping up to be as good, maybe if not better then their Victorian Rivals. Sydney the reigning premiers, and Fremantle who are only inches away from making their first Grand Final appearance, promise as much intrigue and quality as any other finalists.

The last time these two sides met, we were treated with a heart stopping draw. Sydney held a 27 point lead halfway into the final quarter before Fremantle produced a remarkable comeback to level scores. By the final siren Sydney were lucky to walk away with 2 point, when defender Michael Johnson had an unusual shot on goal, which failed to carry the distance and floated into the hands of Sam Reid.

Two weeks ago Fremantle stamped their authority as a serious contender with an un-expected 15 point win against Geelong at Kardinia Park. Sydney, on the other hand, suffered an uncharacteristic thumping from Hawthorn, going down by 54. A subsequent 24 point win against Carlton last weekend secured their 13th Preliminary final berth and steadied their finals campaign.

After a very disappointing result against Hawthorn, Sydney proved that they still were a force to be reckoned with this year. Jared McVeigh proved to be the difference accumulating 43 disposals and 2 goals, leading the Swans to a comfortable victory. McVeigh’s stunning performance secured his place as the league’s second most effective ball disposer, closely behind Scott Pendlebury. But Sydney’s win came at a cost, the exclusions of Kurt Tippett and Tom Mitchell due to injury make Sydney’s trip to Perth just that more difficult.

Fremantle however, are shaping up to become a real contender for this years Premiership. The Dockers resemble Sydney 12 months ago. Under the guidance of Ross Lyon, Subiaco has become the stronghold from which Fremantle have gone about building their season quietly to finish fourth. Lyon’s game plan and willingness to use younger players, has given Fremantle the ability to run down older teams, as was apparent two weeks ago against Geelong. Zac Clarke has stepped up and proven himself as one of Fremantle’s key players and an effective replacement for injury prone Aaron Sandilands.

Saturday’s game will be Fremantle’s second Preliminary Final appearance in their short 15 year existence, their last appearance coincidently was a 35 point loss at the hands of Sydney in 2006 (Sydney went on to win the premiership that year). This time around, things are different. Without the home ground advantage and key players like Goodes, Reid, Shaw, Tippet and Mitchell, Sydney will struggle. Sydney’s ability to lock down sides and dictate play seems to have subsided, mostly down to the fact they’re without key players.

The Verdict

Seventeen years in the making, Fremantle are now positioned to make a real tilt at the flag. The Dockers have finally hit the mark with a good mixture of experience and youth, providing them a more depth squad than other sides. Sydney’s efforts against Carlton last week whilst positive won’t be enough to get them over the line at Subiaco. Fremantle by 18

If you fancy Freo to beat Sydney, Luxbet’s offering them at $1.38, the winner faces either Hawthorn or Geelong in the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne.

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