Tunnelling claim could backfire: Schwass - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tunnelling claim could backfire: Schwass

By Greg Buckle 05/09/2008 06:34:09 PM Comments (0)

In a dramatic turnaround, Sydney go into Saturday's AFL elimination final against North Melbourne as favourites armed with home-ground advantage and the return of two star players.

The Swans have received a massive boost with coach Paul Roos recalling dual Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes from a groin complaint and star half-forward Ryan O'Keefe (flu).

The Kangaroos, who had been expected to cruise to victory over Port Adelaide last week and guarantee fourth spot, have put their faith in key forward Nathan Thompson, Ed Lower and Jess Sinclair.

The trio come back into the side at the expense of ruckman Hamish McIntosh, forward Corey Jones and defender Gavin Urquhart after last week's shock 76-point loss which dropped the Kangaroos to seventh spot.

North have won only one of their past six finals and have never played an AFL game at ANZ Stadium. They will have to draw on their famous underdog "Shinboner Spirit" to prevail.

Coach Dean Laidley issued a public apology after last week's poor performance against Port.

"I think there's a lot of pride in this group with some pretty strong characters," North's 300-game small forward Shannon Grant said.

"We'll really come out firing and hit back as a group."

In what's likely to be a low-scoring game, the Swans will rely on aggressive big man Barry Hall and Goodes, who has been shifted to a forward role late in the season from midfield.

Struggling to move at full pace, Goodes kicked a career-high eight goals in a four-point win over Fremantle at the SCG in round 19.

He was rested last week as the Swans won by 61 points at the SCG against Brisbane to finish sixth and clinch a home final.

"I'm feeling pretty confident in my body and in the way I trained last night," Goodes said on Friday.

North could provide a threat to Sydney in attack where the 201cm David Hale, with 12 goals in his past two games, has the form and the height to trouble Leo Barry and Craig Bolton.

Brownlow Medal contender Brent Harvey is the key to North's midfield power, with hard-working duo Brett Kirk and Jude Bolton charged with the responsibility of winning contested ball for the Swans.

But Laidley's comment this week that Craig Bolton had used the illegal "tunnelling" tactic on North's forwards in their round-six draw at Telstra Dome won't do the Kangaroos any favours, Laidley's 1996 premiership team mate Wayne Schwass says.

"I thought it was strange," Schwass told AAP this week.

"Those things can sometimes have the effect of galvanising the opposition," added Schwass, a club champion with the Kangaroos and the Swans.

"If it works it's great, the tactic was good. If it doesn't it can backfire.

"When you are looking for an advantage, sometimes even the smallest advantage, and you get one just put in your lap then you'd be foolish not to use it for your own advantage.

"The tactic of tunnelling is quite dangerous. To have that levelled at you as individuals or as a club is very upsetting."

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