Tom papley
Sydney Swans coach John Longmire is hoping Tom Papley will continue his good form against GWS. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Sydney faces danger game against GWS

Martin Pegan July 29, 2022

Sydney and GWS head into their AFL derby with contrasting form but the clash looms as a danger game for the hosts at the SCG on Saturday.

The Swans (12-6) have won their past three matches and are building momentum with finals a month away, while the Giants (5-13) will want to put a dent in their cross-town rivals’ hopes of a top-four finish.

The Harbour City teams are more evenly matched than the current ladder suggests with their four clashes over the past 18 months split 2-2 and decided by an average of two goals.

The Giants will be hoping history repeats after upsetting their more fancied opponents by one point in last year’s stunning elimination final and two points when they last met at the SCG.

But with an average of fewer than seven goals a game in their three recent losses, the Giants will need to boost their forward firepower rather than relying as much on Toby Greene (33 goals) and Jesse Hogan (25).

The Swans have a spread of regular goalkickers that includes Lance Franklin (38), Isaac Heeney (career-high 37) and Will Hayward (25), while Tom Papley has booted 18 majors since kicking off his season in round seven.

The 2021 All-Australian has also become a weapon around stoppages and had five clearances and 11 contested possessions to go with two goals when best afield against Adelaide last week.

“Every player is different, he’s unique in his skill set,” Swans coach John Longmire said about Papley.

“He goes to some centre bounces, he gives us real speed and he also gives us elite forward pressure.

“His football smarts, his football IQ is of a really high level. He’s in good form and so we’re hoping that continues because he’s a real threat in that forward half.”

The Giants’ midfield is closer to full strength with the return of All-Australians Josh Kelly (concussion) and Lachie Whitfield (hip), while Jacob Hopper will line up for his third match since overcoming a knee injury.

Stephen Coniglio has also impressed since stepping back into a regular midfield role after Mark McVeigh took over as interim coach from round 10.

The Giants’ co-captain credits McVeigh with helping him bounce back from two years of form and fitness issues but is now more concerned with the team’s performances.

“(My form) is pleasing until you find out we’re not going too well,” Coniglio said.

“Mark has been such a great role model for me for a long time and what he’s been able to do for me personally this year is something I’m really thankful for.”

Kelly and Whitfield are among six inclusions for GWS, with Hogan, Tom Green and Harry Perryman also back in the side.

Tall defender Leek Aleer, the No.15 pick in last year’s national draft, will make his debut.

The Swans go in unchanged.