Just the second non-Victorian AFL finals derby will be the highlight of the biggest weekend in the history of Australian rules in Sydney.
On Saturday the Swans and Giants clash at ANZ Stadium in the first AFL finals Sydney derby, before their reserves teams meet in the NEAFL grand final at Blacktown in Western Sydney on Sunday.
Although the NSW derby is younger than those in SA, WA and Queensland, it’s already stolen a march on those areas when it comes to intra-state finals.
It has taken five years for both NSW AFL teams to meet in the finals, four years fewer than in took for the AFL teams in South Australia to play each other in a final.
The two SA teams have been doing battle for 20 seasons, but have both made the finals in the same year on just five occasions with the Crows thrashing Port by 83 points in their only finals meeting in 2005.
Fans of Fremantle and West Coast are still waiting for their first finals derby after 22 seasons, though they’ve both only made the top eight in the same year four times.
Followers of the two Queensland clubs are still waiting for their first intra-state final after six seasons and it’s hard to see that run ending any time soon based on their performances this season.
The all Sydney finals match has attracted enormous media coverage in that city, but it’s unlikely to get the same treatment nationally.
Asked if family and friends back in Melbourne sensed how big a deal the ANZ Stadium clash was in Sydney, Giants’ All Australian half-forward Toby Greene quipped “probably not, they are in their little Melbourne bubble down there.”
NSW Premier Mike Baird last week confidently predicted a Sydney club would win the 2016 flag and the two harbour city teams would contest the grand final.
He may be proven right, but if not he might be able to claim he just got his Australian rules letters mixed up and he was talking about the NEAFL.
Both Sydney clubs had 80-point plus wins in their respective NEAFL preliminary finals.
Each fielded a stack of players with senior experience, especially in their backlines where the Swans included Ted Richards and Jeremy Laidler and the Giants side contained Adam Kennedy, Matt Buntine and Tim Mohr.
“It’s always a good indicator if your reserves team has been pretty competitive throughout the year,” Swans senior coach John Longmire said on Monday.