Friday, August 14, 2015, 7.50pm AEST, Sydney Cricket Ground, Watch on Seven Network, Fox Footy
Sydney Swans: Fifth
Collingwood Magpies: 11th
Sydney Swans: 12-6-0
Collingwood Magpies: 9-9-0
Last five games
Sydney Swans: WLLWL
Collingwood Magpies: LLLLW
NORMALLY this one would have the billing of a blockbuster.
The Bondi Millionaires up against the most popular club in the AFL in the Harbour City.
But this one feels a little flat.
The boys from Collingwood ($3.35 with CrownBet.com.au) hadn’t been able to buy a win before they had a horribly ugly victory over the utterly hopeless Carlton on the weekend, while Sydney ($1.33 with sportsbet.com.au) has been nothing short of disappointing, dropping three of its last four in a worrying stretch that has it in a tough battle to get that double chance.
On the field it hasn’t been great for the Pies, but that’s nothing compared to off it, where, again, they were under the microscope, forced to deny it has a problem with illicit drug use after youngsters Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas copped two year suspensions for taking a banned substance.
The pair tested positive to Clenbuterol, a banned substance they believe may have been laced in illicit drugs that they admitted to taking on a day off.
Coach Nathan Buckley defended the clubs culture and denied drug use was rife, calling the Keeffe-Thomas situation an “isolated event”.
“It’s an AFL issue, that it’s a societal issue, and we need to have these open discussions to get to the bottom of it – I didn’t feel like it was a Collingwood issue at all,” Buckley said.
“And if it was, we wouldn’t be doing the right thing by every other person in the environment to maintain connection with these boys.
“From day dot, half of me has been angry with the decision that they made and half of me has been shattered for the situation they find themselves in.”
The pair was fined $50,000 each and has been delisted by the club, but Buckley clearly plans to take another chance on them.
But back to the footy.
The Magpies played out a very ugly first half and just managed to sneak away with a 16.9 (105) to 13.9 (87) win over the Blues.
Ben Reid was up and about for his 100th game, snagging four goals – emulated by the talented Alex Fasolo – as the Maggies arrested a six game slide.
The set up men, though were their two best players, Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan.
The former was as slick as ever, moving like a Rolls Royce all over the ground to pick up 37 disposals and nine tackles, while his tattooed running mate wound back the clock, only just checking out of hospital with leather poisoning after collecting 41 touches and booting three goals.
It’s been 15 years since Collingwood faced the swans at the SCG and that night Buckley led his side to victory.
This Friday, Bucks will giving the orders to the Pies, who are expected to welcome back gun full forward Travis Cloke.
A calf injury has kept him out of their last three contests, but football manager Neil Balme says he is a good chance of making his come back.
“Travis is going pretty well with that calf,” Balme said.
“Certainly, he has to get through training but we remain pretty confident that he will be available to play.
The Swans are sweating on Teddy Richards after the key defender was charged with rough conduct in the Swans’ loss to Geelong, 14.11 (95) to 9.9 (63).
Lewis Jetta was the only multiple goal kicker with two goals, and the midfield was stifled, apart from Josh Kennedy with 32 touches.
Sydney was actually up by 13 points at half time, but gave up the goat after the break, allowing Geelong to beat them in almost every facet of the game.
Well, they’re probably not thinking about Richards too much, they’ll be more worried about their $10 million man Lance Franklin.
The key forward missed the Geelong game with a back injury, which also forced him out of the loss to West Coast in Perth three weeks ago.
Franklin is expected to train with the main group on Wednesday.
Prickly midfielder Ben McGlynn pulled out late on the weekend. He’s set to play, while Gary Rohan and ruck Mike Pyke will also come into consideration.
“Our aim is to get better this week, it’s about a consistency of effort across the board from all of our players,” coach John Longmire said.
“We haven’t played the way we want to play – you can’t shy away from that.
“We’ve spoken about it but now it’s about making sure we put it into actions.
“We haven’t come up to scratch over the last month, it’s time to get going.”
They’ll want to do it quickly. Finals are around the corner and it’s near on impossible to win the flag from outside the top four.
Match result: Collingwood wins ($3.35 with CrownBet.com.au)
Line: Collingwood Magpies -21.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
Fun fact: Collingwood has beaten Sydney 13 times in the past 15 matches. It’s the Swans version of the Kennett curse. It doesn’t seem to matter where it is, or what the ladder positions are, the Pies just have the wood over them. And, call us crazy, but we reckon they’re going to do it again. They’ve been so gallant in so many games against sides at the pointy end, but have gone away with honourable losses that have killed their season. They’ve got the Swans at the right time. They know how to beat them and, with the return of Cloke, we’re backing them to get over the line again and make it 14 from 16. The bookies always have them at long odds, but we reckon the $3.35 represents serious bang for your buck. And if you’re not so confident on the Pies getting over the line, that 21.5 points is also tasty – they held that line against Fremantle, Hawthorn, the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide. Sydney haven’t been playing as well as at least three of those four clubs. Have a crack at the Pies and watch them bely their ladder position and seasonal performance, getting over the top of the Swans by a couple of goals.
First goal scorer
Lance Franklin ($8 with sportsbet.com.au)
Will the superstar play? That’s the big question. Franklin, on his day, is the best forward in the competition. But he’s been battling that injury and it remains to be seen whether he will recover in time after the six day break. Has only managed 15 games this year, but has still booted 45 goals and he tends to slam big bags towards the end of the season as he shapes up for finals. Has booted three goals in each of his past three games – actually, exactly 3.2 in each of those games – but it will be good to see him back in a Swans uniform and kicking goals again, after he was sorely missed against the Cats on the weekend.
Sam Reid ($13 with sportsbet.com.au)
One of the reasons why the Swans couldn’t hit the scoreboard against the Cats is because Reid was well held in Franklin’s absence. He only kicked one against the Crows, but was well held and before that he kicked a wasteful four behinds against the Eagles. This doesn’t exactly instil confidence. But we just feel like he’ll benefit from being back on the SCG with a full complement of forwards. The attention is off him when Buddy and Tippett play and we get the feeling that’s how he likes it. Three goals against Port Adelaide is his best effort this year.
Ben Reid ($11 with sportsbet.com.au)
First game back, Reid celebrated his 100th game by sending four of the best through the big sticks and, if his fragile body holds up, he’ll only benefit from the attention Cloke will take off him. Here’s another fun fact: the last time the talented Reid kicked four goals was in round 22, 2013. The week after, he kicked five. Could he repeat history? The first goal of the match would definitely set him on his way to emulating the feat – and winning readers who follow our tip a bit of dosh.
Travis Cloke ($10 with sportsbet.com.au)
Another one with an injury cloud, but must be considered, purely for the fact he is in the top two power forwards in the game. Can’t kick to save himself, but gets so many chances because the Pies players are always trying to kick it to him. Three weeks out is a bit of a concern and you obviously have to wait and see if he actually gets selected, but whenever he’s on the ground he is every chance of that vital first one. Had been really struggling before his injury and will be keen to come back and make an impact after being subbed out of the West Coast game and only botting one goal in the previous three. Look for a big bounce back in his return.
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