We must make strong start, say AFL’s Swans

Sydney are focused on eliminating their horrible Domain Stadium starts, knowing they must knock Fremantle off balance early in their AFL qualifying final.

In their two Perth games this season, the Swans have managed a pitiful combined total of two goals to half time.

Before last year’s win over West Coast, they were also down by five goals at the long break in the 2013 preliminary final against the Dockers and eventually lost that game by 25 points.

Assistant coach Stuart Dew said on Friday the opposition, rather than the venue, had been the reason for this year’s slow starts.

Dew also admitted the Swans had addressed it ahead of Saturday’s final against the minor premiers.

“It’s really hard in any environment to give a good side a head start,” he said.

“We’re well aware that’s happened and we’ll put our energy into a good start.

“You have to compete early and that’s across the board – you can’t rely on one or two.

“We’ve put the heat on the whole squad that they all have to play.”

Dew sees no potential weakness in Fremantle resting so many players last week and making 14 changes for this match.

“If it was an inexperienced team, it may be different,” he said.

“If you go across their team, they’ve had five to eight years together, so certainly they’ll deal with it. We don’t expect that to be a factor.”

Likewise, Dew dismisses the form of the Dockers, who stuttered rather than purred into the finals.

“Towards the end of the year, when you know you’ve got one or two sewn up, it’s very hard not to look forward,” he said.

“Maybe, subconsciously, that’s happened. They’re primed for this and so are we.”

The Swans start underdogs given key players Lance Franklin, Kieren Jack, Nick Smith and Luke Parker are missing.

But this is a mission taylor-made for the team renowned for its Bloods culture.

“We come over with a fresh look and finals is a different ball game, isn’t it?,” Dew said.

“Ladder position means nothing now and we’re confident we stack up.

“We’ve probably dealt with that a little bit this year, where name players haven’t been in.

“But guys who have come in have been able to do the job.”

Sydney also boast an in-form and versatile attack, with Sam Reid in strong form, despite Franklin’s absence as he deals with health issues.

“We’re a lot better set up than what we were last year,” Dew said.

“We were probably a lot more reliant last year but we’ve had windows where Lance has played, Lance hasn’t played.

“We’ve also had a little bit more unpredictability up there.”

Dew added the dramas surrounding Franklin this week had not affected the team’s preparations.

“Internally, it’s not as big as everyone has made it out to be,” he said.

“Certainly we understand why it is a big story but internally, we’ve got a job to do and guys are focused.”

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