Blitzed by Hawthorn early in the 2014 AFL grand final, fast-starting Sydney are making sure the boot is now firmly on the other foot.
Hawthorn ensured the last two grand finals were practically over by halftime thanks to dominant opening terms and the Swans are keen to emulate those feats.
In 2014 they kicked five goals to two against Sydney in the first quarter and outscored them six to three in the second to lead by 42 points at halftime.
It was more of the same in 2015, when the Hawks kicked five majors to West Coast’s one in the opening term and were 31 up by the long break.
In the past two weeks, Sydney have burnt off Adelaide and Geelong in similar fashion.
They kicked seven goals in the first quarter of both games, having never previously booted more than six in the opening period of a finals fixture.
The start will again be crucial when they face the Western Bulldogs in Saturday’s grand final at the MCG.
“We understand the importance of starting well,” Sydney ruckman Kurt Tippett told AAP.
“We always try to focus on our first couple of contests and and then flow from there.
“As a group, we’re well aware of how important the start is.”
The Swans have won 19 out of 25 first quarters, this season and haven’t trailed by more than 11 points at quarter time of any match.
Sydney have kicked five or more goals in eight opening quarters this year, but their defence has also played a big part in their strong starts.
Only twice this year have Sydney conceded more than three goals in an opening term, and they still won both games.
They have kept five teams goalless till quarter time, among them competition heavy-hitters, Hawthorn, Geelong and Greater Western Sydney.
The Bulldogs have also kicked five or more goals eight times in the first quarter, buthave been outscored in 11 of their 25 opening terms.
Both clubs are among the top four in the competition in disposals, clearances, stoppages and tackles,
“I think the first half of footy is going to be red hot,” said former Swans and Bulldogs forward Barry Hall.
“‘If the Bulldogs can stay with them, and I hope they can, they are a chance.
“We’ll see what sort of spirit they’ve got in the second half of footy.
“They just play games out.”.