Sydney midfielder Josh Kennedy says the Swans must match red-hot Hawthorn’s trademark ferocity and aggression in their massive AFL matchup on Saturday.
The third-placed Swans face a season-shaping next two rounds against the sides immediately above and below them on the ladder.
After hosting the Hawks at ANZ Stadium, Sydney travel to Perth to square off against second-placed West Coast.
A Sydney victory over the Hawks would create a handy two-win buffer over the two-time defending premiers heading into the final third of the season.
Conversely, a Hawthorn win would lift them above Sydney on percentage and as high as second, depending on how the Eagles fare in their Etihad Stadium showdown with Collingwood.
Hawthorn have garnered some unflattering headlines this season for what has been branded “unsociable football”.
Kennedy acknowledged his team would need to match the Hawks’ intensity and apply unrelenting four-quarter pressure to negate their pin-point kicking game.
“It’s pretty well publicised the way they go about it which is a really aggressive and ferocious attack on the footy,” Kennedy said on Monday.
“We want to match them in that area.”
Both teams are in fine form, with Hawthorn winning six straight since their four-point MCG loss to Sydney in late May.
The Swans’ only defeat over the same period was at home against Richmond.
Sydney shaded the Hawks at the MCG in round eight despite having six fewer scoring shots against a side missing their inspirational skipper Luke Hodge, who was suspended.
Sydney slammed on the first six goals of the game and held an early 32-point lead, but had to overturn a two-goal deficit in the final quarter.
“We’ll take a bit of confidence from that but I think they are an improved side,” Kennedy said.
“They have got a few guys back too that were missing from that game, so I think it’s going to be on at ANZ on Saturday night.
“That game could have gone either way and we were arguably lucky to get away with it in the end.”
Former Hawk Kennedy acknowledged he has lifted his game over the past two weeks against Port Adelaide and Brisbane.
Now in his sixth season with Sydney he’s no longer motivated by playing against his old club.
But he thought it might be a different matter for another former Hawk, forward Lance Franklin, who is in just his second season with the Swans and needs two goals on Saturday to reach the 700 mark.