Swans seek to stick with AFL's top eight - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Swans seek to stick with AFL's top eight

By James Dampney 15/05/2009 03:18:02 PM Comments (0)

Crunch time has arrived for Sydney in the 2009 AFL season.

Many predicted the Swans would slide down the ladder this year and they have shown some worrying signs a third of the way through the home and away campaign.

The 10th-placed Swans are among eight teams with a 3-4 record heading into Saturday night's clash with old rivals West Coast at ANZ Stadium.

Win and the Swans will square their ledger and should find themselves back in the top eight and right in the mix to enjoy a seventh straight season of finals football.

But a loss would put Sydney in a significant hole, with games against Port Adelaide, the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn on the horizon in the next three weeks.

Last week against Geelong at Skilled Stadium, the Swans remained competitive for a little over two quarters before being run over by the ruthless Cats.

Losing to the premiership favourites in Geelong is no disgrace, but midfielder Luke Ablett - who returns from a shoulder injury to face the Eagles - said there were some issues with the way they played.

Again it came back to Sydney not playing the team-first style that their successful era has been built on.

"We really butchered the ball going forward, and that was one thing we did a bit of work on (at training), and also getting back to working with each other and being a real team," Ablett said.

"I'm not really sure why it's happening but it has happened a few times this year and we've generally lost games when that happens.

"I guess it comes back to the individual and making sure they are looking after their teammates and everyone is out there together."

West Coast are only one spot behind the Swans on percentage and are also desperate to keep their season afloat.

The two clubs established the best modern rivalry in the game in recent years, culminating in the classic 2005 and 2006 grand finals, but both are now trying to rejuvenate their lists.

At ANZ Stadium the Eagles will have a very different look from years gone by, with the likes of Chris Judd and Ben Cousins long since departed and Daniel Kerr absent through injury.

The Swans are still featuring their old guard of Brett Kirk, Barry Hall, Adam Goodes and Michael O'Loughlin, although they are injecting youth into their squad.

West Coast coach John Worsfold said there is still plenty of respect between the teams, particularly among those that remain from their premiership years.

And he believes his young side are capable of becoming the first team to knock the Swans off in Sydney this year.

"The focus is keeping improving on the way we want to play," he said in Sydney on Friday.

"We need to put more pressure on the scoreboard, more active kicking and if we play our hard running game we believe we are good enough to win."

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