The first Preliminary Final of 2016 sees the Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans go head to head at the MCG tonight and it could be the individual head to heads all over the oval that decide which way this one turns out.
Both teams possess a full forward that can win matches almost single handedly on a good day with Buddy Franklin of the Swans and Tom Hawkins of the Cats.
Franklin has weighed in with 78 goals so far in 2016 at an average of 3.45 goals per game while Hawkins has 54 to his name from two fewer appearances for an average of 2.45 per game.
Heath Grundy will no doubt be given the job on Hawkins and honours have been just about even in their previous encounters.
Tom Lonergan will get the task of keeping Buddy quiet and he’s done as good a job as anyone in the AFL of doing just that, keeping the big man to an average of 1.9 goals per game in their 10 match ups. Even if Lonergan does his usual solid job on Franklin the Sydneysiders still have goal threats aplenty with Tippett set to return plus Heaney, Parker and Papley all capable of weighing in with multiple scores.
It’s not just the full forwards vs key defenders that could swing the balance in this game with both midfields packed with ball magnets, strong runners and goal getters.
Tom Mitchell could get the job on Brownlow winner elect Patrick Dangerfield but even if the Swans keep him quiet there is Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan and the underrated Cameron Guthrie to worry about.
If anything the Swans midfield is even stronger than the Cats’ with Hannebury, Parker, Jack and Josh Kennedy all capable of dominating in the middle of the field, with Tom Mitchell and Isaac Heaney also bringing valuable skill sets to the table.
Daniel Menzel is a disappointing out for the Cats and if the meeja are correct then it could be Lachie Henderson that comes in as support for Hawkins up top and we’ll take a punt on them being right (for once) for our first bet and get with the Swans for our match bet.
0.33 units 1st goal and 0.33 units last goal LACHIE HENDERSON at $28with