Sydney ruckman Callum Sinclair says the battle for spots at the top of the AFL ladder can be overwhelming and daunting, as his Swans prepare to host ladder leader Hawthorn on Thursday.
The Hawks have clear air on 48 points, but just four points separate the next seven clubs, with the Swans, Crows and Bulldogs on 44, and the Eagles, Giants, Cats and Kangaroos on 40.
A loss to the Hawks at the SCG could send the second-placed Swans sliding out of the top four, depending on other results later in the round.
“It can be a little bit overwhelming and daunting at times, I think that might be the case,” Sinclair said at the SCG on Monday.
“It probably just shows the strength of the competition that if you’re not on your game one week, it can really cost you and the race for top four is getting tighter and tighter every week, so there’s very little time for mistakes.
“We need to keep the momentum going in our squad because the top eight is just so tight at the moment.
“You drop a couple of games and you’re going to drop pretty low.”
Sydney will be going for back-to-back wins over Hawthorn having triumphed by 14 points at the MCG back in May.
“It’s going to be a pretty fierce contest, obviously they are going to be fired up that we got the four points against them last time,” Sinclair said.
“They probably don’t like losing two games in a row to us, so we’re expecting a pretty combative contest, but I think our boys are up for it.”
He thought Hawthorn’s ability to change game plans was one reason why they were doing so well despite being only 13th in the competition in the contested possessions category.
“They are just an awesome side, they’ve got multiple plans.” Sinclair said.
“If plan A is not working they’ve got plan B and plan C, so they are just a great total football side and they’ve got a few strings to their bow, so it’s going to be a tough ask.”
He credited young Swans’ ruckmen Toby Nankervis and Sam Naismith for stepping up in the absence of the injured Kurt Tippett.
“Sam obviously had a really big influence on the game last week and Toby with his competitiveness and aggression has been a real plus.”