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Enemy Camp: Swans to go head-to-head in midfield

Adam Curley - AFL Media  September 12, 2017 3:08 PM

AFL 2017 Second Elimination Final - Sydney v Essendon

Josh Kennedy was in outstanding form against Essendon in the elimination final

SYDNEY coach John Longmire may not send a hard tag the way of Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield in Friday night's semi-final against Geelong, preferring to back his own midfielders to give his team an edge.

The Swans go into the massive clash at the MCG as heavy favourites after dominating Essendon last week, as opposed to the Cats who capitulated badly in the last quarter of their defeat at the hands of Richmond.

Sydney skipper Josh Kennedy and onballer Luke Parker are the best contested ball winners at the club, and both are in vintage form after combining for 59 possessions, 34 of those contested, and 15 clearances against the Bombers.

Longmire said Dangerfield and his star captain Joel Selwood were always discussed heavily in the lead up to Cats games, but with his own men in such fantastic touch, assigning a stopper to Dangerfield wasn't the only way to beat Geelong.

"His impact on games is significant. He's a massive competitor and when you get he and Selwood together, two huge competitors with talent, it's a pretty lethal combination," he said.

"Those blokes are really hard to quell because they're so good in 50/50 situations, but we've got a few blokes that are OK in the contest, and go OK in the 50/50 stuff.

"We obviously talk about Dangerfield, Selwood, (Mitch) Duncan, (Sam) Menegola – their midfield is a really good group, and we have some ideas.

"It doesn't mean they'll be implemented just yet, or that they'll necessarily work."

The critics have savaged Geelong's players after Friday night's drubbing against the Tigers, and while many give them little chance of beating the Swans and written off their premiership hopes, Longmire isn't one of them.

Sydney faced the same reality 12 months ago when the minor premiers lost to Greater Western Sydney in their qualifying final at ANZ Stadium, but bounced back with a six-goal win over Adelaide a week later.

"We tend to jump on and off teams at this time of year and especially after the first week of the finals," Longmire said.

"We were in the same situation last year, and when you lose the first final it's incredible how people on the outside jump on or off teams.

"There's a reason they finished second on the ladder, they're a very good team.

"Their contested ball differentials, their tackle numbers, all the things that stand up in finals are very strong."

Longmire made a somewhat surprising selection decision when he preferred Callum Sinclair to Kurt Tippett against Essendon, but it proved the correct call with Sinclair's three-goal effort a standout in the 65-point thumping.

Tippett played in the Swans' losing NEAFL Grand Final side after the senior game on Saturday night and while he proved he was over his ankle injury, his performance didn't exactly command a recall.

"He was OK without setting the world on fire," Longmire said.

"In the end he got through the game really well with his ankle, so that was important for him and us, that he was able to pull up well from the game.

"The doubts that we had going into the game last week have certainly lessened because he got through a full game of footy."

Young defender Lewis Melican was a late withdrawal last week with quad tightness but has done some running since, and will look to train strongly on Wednesday in a bid to get back into the side for the Cats game.