How will Sydney’s pressure stand up in the finals?

Sydney will be hoping to remain in good connection come Saturday. Picture @sydneyswans

How will Sydney’s pressure stand up in the finals? The stakes are high ahead of another Sydney Derby final, with a Giant challenge in Tasmania to come.

Saturday afternoon’s Elimination Final will be the third time Sydney takes on GWS in a final, yet to claim victory during finals over its cross-town rival, Sydney will look to change that at the University of Tasmania.

The Swans’ pressure game was on full display last weekend in their massive win over Gold Coast and coach John Longmire believes it is the type of pressure they will need to bring on Saturday.

“We try and aim for that every week [strong pressure] but particularly in finals games you need to apply full pressure,” he said.

“We know the Giants can play really good end-to-end footy when they are able to, so we need to make sure we apply really strong pressure off the ball and around the ball.

“It’s been a really important part of our game- we really need to get the ball off the opposition as soon as we can to give us another opportunity to score and reduce the effectiveness of what they can do with ball in hand.”

Tasmania is not a completely foreign environment to the Swans, but they have only played at University of Tasmania Stadium once before, back in 2012.

Longmire spoke about the preparation that they will undertake ahead of the match.

“We’ve been there before, quite a while ago. But it’s a big ground, similar dimensions to the MCG,” he said.

“In the end, we understand that it’s that size ground, [but] that pressure, and playing four quarters of contested footy matters no matter where you play and we’re confident that will be the case again this week.”

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Pressure of a different kind

The last time Sydney and GWS faced off, there was perhaps no greater curveball than the removal of key players 20 minutes before the bounce.

Sydney lost Callum Mills and Harry Cunningham from its best 22, while the Giants lost Toby Greene and Matt de Boer.

Curveballs and the two Sydney teams have gone hand in hand for most of the second half of the season, but Sydney has responded, winning seven of its last eight games, all of which have been on the road.

Longmire spoke about whether the challenges have galvanized the group over the last two months.

“I’m not sure whether it’s galvanized, or it’s just the ability to move on, and I think that’s been a real positive,” he said.

“Some of the challenges that have been thrown at you have been so left field, that you can’t help but have a chuckle at them, like players being pulled out of the game, or staff members being pulled out of the game or being relocated the day of a game, and that game postponed.

“There’s no real handbook for it, to turn to page five, on how to deal with this stuff.

“But we’re really fortunate that our playing group- and our staff especially are pretty much adept at thinking on their feet, moving forward, and something tells me there are a few more challenges ahead.

“So we’ll have to be pretty good at that- to be the way we need to be going forward.”

A Giant challenge

Sydney and GWS’s last finals match in 2018. Picture sydneyswans.com.au.

One of those challenges will be GWS, who Longmire expects to go down to the wire with on Saturday.

“I don’t take anything for granted, in any week, particularly in finals,” he said.

“We know that anything can happen, they’re a very good team, they play all sides of the ball very well, they’ve got great talent, but they play hard and fierce as well.

“We expect a big battle against the Giants because they’re a great football team.

“It’s going to be a fantastic contest and one that we’ll have to play to the final siren.”

Sydney takes on GWS at 3:20 pm Saturday.

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