Swans finally free to focus on Geelong - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Swans finally free to focus on Geelong

By James Dampney 16/04/2008 06:07:08 PM Comments (0)

The AFL's version of the trial of the century is finally over and Sydney can now concentrate on football's biggest on-field test, an away trip to face premiers Geelong.

The circus that was Barry Hall's tribunal appearance finally ended on Tuesday.

The bruising spearhead's brain snap, when he punched West Coast defender Brent Staker and earned himself a seven-game suspension, has soiled the Swans' impressive 3-1 start to the season.

Sydney defender Craig Bolton admits the intense scrutiny Hall's conduct provoked was an unwelcome distraction but remains confident they can be the first team to beat the Cats this season.

"That's the big challenge now. We probably don't need all this scrutiny to happen at this time of year," he said prior to training at the SCG.

"We've been playing some good footy and it's going to be a challenge without Barry, but we've played some good footy without him in the past and I think we're a team that's never really relied on one person.

"So this week we still give ourselves every chance and hope to go down to Geelong and have a good game."

Hall's action went against everything the club stands for and Bolton confirmed the leadership group will have a discussion with their former skipper, where they will ask him how he plans to win back their respect.

But even that has been put on the backburner so the Swans can focus on Geelong, who are overwhelming favourites to defend their flag.

SportsTAB lists the Cats as $2.30 favourites to win back-to-back premierships ahead of Hawthorn ($5.50), but the Swans ($10) have moved into third favouritism and were competitive at Skilled Stadium last season.

In round 13 last year, a Sydney side also missing Hall battled back from a 41-point halftime deficit to lose by three goals.

Nick Davis, who has kicked 13 goals in the reserves in the past fortnight, including eight against Belconnen last week playing at full forward, is likely to get a recall to face the premiers.

Bolton believes a trip to Geelong could actually be what the Swans need to maintain their focus amid all the Hall hoopla.

"I think we're a pretty grounded group and when you're coming up against a team this week like Geelong you have to be," he said.

"It's a massive challenge for us to go down there, they're clearly the best side and have been over the last 12 months.

"So I think we've got enough on our plate without having to worry too much about Hally and most guys are really focused and looking forward to the weekend."

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