They know they’re in for a contested scrap, and Sydney have learnt a lesson or two from the Western Bulldogs’ heavy AFL defeat to Geelong.
The sides meet on Saturday at the SCG, where the Swans can go top and the Bulldogs can earn a 10th win.
Both are coming off the bye but from starkly different ends of the spectrum.
The Swans had a cruisy 55-point home triumph over Melbourne, while the Bulldogs suffered a 57-point thrashing by the Cats.
It was the Dogs’ lowest score this season (43 points), as the high-tackling Cats kept coach Luke Beveridge’s backmen pinned and unable to execute their buoyant running defence.
Keep the Dogs off the ball again and Swans midfielder Callum Mills believes his team can stop their visitors springing an upset like last season’s thrilling round-five four-point win at the same venue.
Sydney again proved tackling is their forte a fortnight ago when they set a single-game record of 155 tackles against the Demons in the wet.
But this time, they’ll have to deal with blistering halfback Jason Johannisen, unleashed by Beveridge for the first time this campaign after 11 weeks out with a hamstring complaint.
“They’ve got a lot of dangerous players coming off the halfback,” Mills told AAP.
“They hunt the ball and run and carry with it, so it’s important that we get our hands on it first.
“If we limit that and then get the ball ourselves, we’ll go a long way.”
In contested possession, the Swans are the league’s best while the Dogs are third, with both boasting the competition’s best defensive units respectively.
Mills backed co-captain Jarrad McVeigh and the returning Jeremy Laidler (knee) to help keep the Swans to the tight game structure that’s lifted them to an enviable 10-3 win-loss record.
“They’re the ones who have been there for a while and know our structure and our sort of play,” Mills said.
“It’s really important that we bring our own brand to this game rather than playing the Bulldogs’ type of footy.
“The way we play has shown up in games previously – it’s a major reason why we can be such a competitive team.”
Laidler replaces Aliir Aliir for the Swans, who are again without veteran defender Ted Richards as he regains match fitness in the NEAFL following a month out with concussion issues.
Including Johannisen, the Bulldogs have made five changes, with acting captain Easton Wood (hamstring) back after a month off while Will Minson, Clay Smith and Lukas Webb will play their first senior games this season.