Even by Patrick Dangerfield’s high standards this AFL season, his last outing against Sydney started in ridiculous fashion. Geelong’s Dangerfield looms as one of the most imposing roadblocks standing between the Swans and a spot in the grand final.
The former Adelaide midfielder has excelled in his first season with the Cats and is fully expected to win the Brownlow medal.
Sydney coach John Longmire won’t need reminding of the threat posed by Dangerfield ahead of Friday night’s preliminary final. The Swans recorded an impressive 38-point away win over Geelong in round 16 but Dangerfield was at his dazzling best early. The superstar helped himself to 18 possessions in the first term. Tom Mitchell was tasked with the onerous job of limiting Dangerfield’s influence after quarter-time and did a fine job, helping the Swans record one of their most impressive wins of the year.
“He (Dangerfield) racked up 18 touches in the first quarter and we had to lock him down,” Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy recalled on Sunday.
“I’m not sure whether we’ll get on the front foot there.
“We’ll wait and see what Horse (Longmire) and the coaching staff want us to do with that.”
The game will pit two of the league’s best on-ball brigades against each other, with Dangerfield and Kennedy just a few of the star attractions. Kennedy is confident his side can match it with Geelong in the middle, admitting the duel within a duel will be crucial in deciding who advances to the grand final.
“It’s going to be a big one,” he said.
“If you watch any of the finals games so far, the team that has really brought that intensity and pressure around the footy has got up.
“As a midfield group … we were beaten the previous week (in a loss to Greater Western Sydney) and it was good we were able to respond and get back to our best.
“It obviously stung a fair bit losing a final out at ANZ Stadium.
“But fortunately we had that second chance … at our best we can match it with anyone.”