Come Saturday we’ll have a decent idea of how the first week of the 2018 AFL finals are shaking up after two blockbuster games on Thursday and Friday night respectively. However, two more massive games remain on Saturday and we are here to give our preview and betting tips for the Battle of the Bridge between the Sydney Swans and GWS Giants kicking off at 4.20pm.
Sydney were a big chance to sneak into the top four heading into the last round of the regular season, however, a tough loss to Hawthorn landed them in sixth position. The result is a good one considering they were in dire times heading into Round 19 having lost four of their last five games. Isaac Heeney was a catalyst in the Swans late season push for the finals after a bunch of injuries threatened to derail the Swans season.
There will be some tense moments in the week leading up to the first final, as Lance Franklin, Luke Parker and Sam Reid will all face fitness tests. I find it very hard to believe that Franklin and Parker won’t play on Saturday afternoon, although Reid is a massive question mark, as the tall forward hasn’t played since Round 3. Apart from that, the Swans injury list is actually looking pretty good compared to what it was through the middle of the season, so they should go into this clash near full strength.
The Giants might have lost their last two games to finish the season but their form coming into those games was arguably the best in the league. They had won 9 of 10 games to that point and sat just outside the top four. However, late game injuries and tough games against Sydney and Melbourne saw them drop to seventh.
The Giants will also have their share of injury concerns ahead of this weekend’s game. Obviously Jonathon Patton, Heath Shaw and Tom Scully remain on the sidelines with season long injuries but the Giants will get a host of key players back from injury in Aidan Corr, Matt de Boer, Toby Greene and Ryan Griffen.
Toby Greene is the big inclusion in my opinion. He is the type of player that can absolutely turn a game and in what promises to be a tight game at the SCG, he could be the difference. Greene was fantastic in both the Giants qualifying and prelim finals in 2016 against the Swans and Dogs respectively and dominated in the semi-final against the Eagles last year.
The two sides met twice this year and Sydney took both games by 16 and 20 points respectively. However, this is a much different GWS outfit to the one that was rolled out in those two games and they should be as close to full strength as they have been all year.
The Giants play style is highly skill based, which doesn’t match up great against the Swans who apply a heap of pressure and it particularly doesn’t bode well in testing conditions. There is rain forecast in Sydney on Saturday afternoon and while most of it should be done by around midday, there could still be some after effects hanging around come game time.
Really tough match to call here. Both sides will be so hyped up not only because it is finals but because of the massive derby clash. I picked the Giants to go all the way in the pre season but it’s just too hard to do that without finishing top four and I think the Swans have the wood over them, especially in what should be mildly damp conditions. Swans in a close one.
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