AFL Sunday kicks off with two clashes to whet your long weekend appetite. Struggling sides Collingwood and St Kilda go head-to-head at Etihad Stadium while the Brisbane Lions take on the in-form Richmond at the Gabba.
A big night in the footy overnight saw the Adelaide Crows firm as grand final favourites with a huge 153-88 win over Essendon as the Suns and the Dockers pulled off surprise wins over Carlton and Melbourne.
Swans’ legend Jude Bolton’s dire prediction
The Sydney Swans are having a shocking 2017 to say the least. Their four-straight losses, paired with a number of injury woes, has put them near the bottom of the ladder near the struggling Hawthorn Hawks and North Melboure — the first time in history three finalists from the previous year have been on the bottom of the ladder in round 4.
The Swans would have to pull off a comeback of monumental proportions to make the finals again this year, a feat far out of their reach according to former great Jude Bolton.
“We’ve got the Sydney derby next week against the rampaging Giants. That’s going to me massive for the Swans,” he said on Channel Seven.
“They won 10 straight last year, so they’ve got a good enough quality — they’ve got five blokes coming back from injury, but it’s a massive game next week.
When asked if the Swans had any chance, Bolton hesitated before replying: “No.”
The Swans nightmare start to the campaign continued in Perth on Thursday as the West Coast Eagles sealed a 26-point win at Domain Stadium.
It means last year’s beaten grand finalists need to do something no AFL team has ever achieved and bounce back from an 0-4 start to make the top eight. The last side to do it in the VFL was North Melbourne in 1975 who just happened to claim the premiership.
It is the worst start since 1993 for John Longmire’s side and although the Swans have been competitive, things still look bleak with their next opponents being the GWS Giants at the SCG next Saturday.
But there is some encouragement for the future with Kurt Tippett, Isaac Heeney, Sam Naismith, Gary Rohan and Jarrad McVeigh all edging towards a return to action after injury.
With Tom Papley having returned on Thursday, Longmire does see some good signs ahead but knows 0-4 is not an ideal place to start from.
“Clearly I’d like a better start than 0-4, it’s not a great spot to sit,” Longmire said.
“But it is what it is and we need to play better and more consistently. “Part of the reason we played Papley was because we thought he could help us win, but we wanted the game time into him as well rather than having four or five come back at once.
“Some of those guys might be available for us next week but we can still do better with the blokes we have available anyway.” One area that Longmire was happy with against the Eagles was their work in close.
The Swans gathered 25 more hard ball gets on the night, along with four more contested possessions and having nine more clearances.
That wasn’t enough to make up for their skill errors with West Coast scoring 10.9 of their 13.13 scoreline solely from turnovers by Sydney. But for Longmire saw steps in the right direction ahead the Giants clash. “Our ground ball has been pretty solid the last couple of weeks and contested ball is made up of a whole lot of different stats,” Longmire said. “We just thought this week in particular our hardness around the scramble was pretty good.
“But our execution wasn’t up to scratch and we just gifted too many goals back.”
— with AAP
Clarkson: ‘All we need to do is bunker down’
He’s boss at Hawthorn and Alastair Clarkson quoted The Boss as he brushed aside sudden speculation about his AFL coaching future.
If the Hawks lose to Geelong on Easter Monday, they will have made a 0-4 start to the season for the first time since 2005 — Clarkson’s debut season as coach. It led to former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams saying last week that Clarkson should consider leaving the Hawks.
Former Geelong and Essendon coach Mark Thompson also speculated that the four- time premiership coach might consider walking if the right offer emerged. This comes after Clarkson swung a wrecking ball through their list last October, trading out Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis in a stunning bid to stay ahead of the curve.
And on Sunday, Clarkson quoted from Bruce Springsteen’s song Wrecking Ball as the coach said Hawthorn’s only focus was recovering from their slump. “We’ve worked our way through tough positions before,”: Clarkson said. “Bruce Springsteen has a great song — hard times come, hard times go. “We’re going through a hard time at the minute, but we’re really, really strong in our resolve to pull ourselves out of this pickle we’re in and get ourselves back on the winning list.” Clarkson said he had not read Williams’ column, but a friend had told him about it.
He also noted that after bad starts, Fremantle and Gold Coast have improved to 2-2 after Saturday’s wins.
“Whenever your side is going through a tough patch, there’s going to be external noise and opinion and that’s the game we’re in,” he said.
“All we need to do is bunker down — it’s a collective effort of our footy club, it’s not about any one person.
“As we’ve seen, it’s clearly been demonstrated by a couple of sides in the last couple of weeks in Gold Coast and Fremantle, who have turned their seasons around very, very quickly.” Despite the new-look side and a barren start to the season, Clarkson also has supreme faith in the Hawks.
“It can happen, as long as we continue to have faith in the processes we have in place here and the people we have in place here,” he said.
“That’s been the case for a long period of time and I don’t expect it to be any different in our approach in the next few weeks.”
SOURCE: newsnow sport