AFL Grand Final: Sydney Swans Preview – Line-Up Predictions, Stats, Betting & Odds

Sydney’s rapid improvement last year, impressive though it was, wasn’t expected by many to result in Premiership contention for the young team at this stage in their development. Their list was undoubtedly littered with talented youth, but entering the season they were realistically expected by most to at best match their 15 wins last year. Instead, they upped that number to 16, but they’ve proven over their past two games that their improvement has been more significant than that one win would suggest. Where last year they finished sixth and were knocked out in the elimination final, this year they worked their way into the top four, and consecutive finals wins have seen them earn a well-deserved spot in the Grand Final – their first such appearance since 2016.   


Sydney’s Journey to the Grand Final

From relatively early in the season, it was apparent that Sydney’s improved showing in 2021 wasn’t just a flash in the pan. After opening the season with two consecutive wins – one of which, incidentally, came against the Cats – they took their record to 5-1 after six games, establishing themselves as a clear top four contender in the process. Three losses in four weeks, however, put the brakes on their season, and when they were 33 points down against the Tigers, the wheels appeared to be falling off.

As it turned out, the second half of that game was when they got their year back on track. They came back to record a season-defining six-point win, before going on to beat the then-Premiership favourites, the Demons, in Melbourne the following week. Another hiccup ensued over the next three weeks when they lost a couple more games, but those would be the last losses of the year to this point. They ended the home and away season with seven consecutive wins, finishing with a record of 16-6 and in third place. 

That finish saw them come up against the Demons in Melbourne in the qualifying final, a game which they entered as underdogs, but after a tight first two and a half quarters they established themselves as a genuine Premiership hope with a barnstorming end to the game, ultimately running out 22-point victors. That set up a home preliminary final two weeks later, and against the vastly improved Collingwood they looked far too strong from the outset. They held a six goal lead in the third quarter and were still up by 21 with just a few minutes to go, but a furious finish by the Pies made for a frantic end to the game. Fortunately for the Swans, the siren sounded just in the nick of time, and with a one-point win they made it through to the last Saturday in September. 


Sydney Grand Final Team News

The Swans have a relatively clean bill of health heading into the Grand Final. The biggest absentee is club legend Josh Kennedy, who has played his last game for the Swans after re-injuring the hamstring which had kept him out of action since Round 10. Sam Reid will be the primary concern in the lead-up to this Saturday’s game after he was subbed out of the preliminary final with an adductor concern, while Justin McInerney also missed training on Tuesday – though he’s fully expected to suit up for the big game. 


Sydney Grand Final Preview

Despite the prevalence of youth in their team, the Swans play like a seasoned outfit, and profile every bit like a Grand Final side. They scored more points than all but three teams in the home and away season, but importantly, their success has not been entirely contingent on their offence; they’ve also been the fourth stingiest team in the league in terms of points conceded, with a defence led by the McCartin brothers, experienced duo Dane Rampe and Jake Lloyd, and the much improved Nick Blakey.

They’re also a high pressure team, something which is a prerequisite for being competitive on Grand Final Day. They rank second in the league for tackles per game, and are top of the league for tackles inside 50. The Swans aren’t super reliant on clearances, though they are a strong contested possession team – ranking fifth in the league – and they’re also among the best in the business for getting the ball inside 50. Combine this with the difficulties they cause for opponents trying to exit defence courtesy of their high pressure game, and it’s easy to see why they’ve been so successful this season. 

Sydney are also one of the best teams in the league at minimising errors; they concede the fourth least turnovers in the league per game, and given the importance on scores from turnovers in modern-day footy, this is another statistic which has been key to their success. On Grand Final Day, when pressure is as high as any they will have faced all year, maintaining this strength will be pivotal in their chances against a team which will punish them as clinically as any in the league for mistakes.


Sydney Predicted Line Up

FB: Paddy McCartin, Tom McCartin, Dane Rampe

HB: Nick Blakey, Robbie Fox, Jake Lloyd

C: Dylan Stephens, Callum Mills, Justin McInerney

HF: Isaac Heeney, Sam Reid, Will Hayward

FF: Tom Papley, Lance Franklin, Ryan Clarke

Fol: Tom Hickey, James Rowbottom, Luke Parker

IC: Chad Warner, Logan McDonald, Oliver Florent, Errol Gulden


Sydney Player to Watch

Though a lot of the focus which surrounds the Swans is on the plethora of young players they have in their team, there’s an older guy you may have heard of called Buddy Franklin whose performance could play a pretty significant role in the outcome of this game. One of the best forwards and indeed players the game has ever seen, at 35 Buddy is past his prime but has this year shown he is still capable of being extremely damaging. The 22 games he’s played has been the most he’s managed since 2017, and his 52 goals is the eighth most in the league. He kicked four against Geelong when these sides met back in Round 2, and kicked 15 goals in five weeks in the lead-up to the finals. And as we know, many of the goals Buddy kicks are goals which potentially no one in the league would be capable of, and in what could easily be a close game, a handful of moments of Buddy brilliance could prove the difference.


Sydney Notable Stats

  • In James Rowbottom and Callum Mills, the Swans have two of the top five players in the league in tackles this season.
  • Sydney have conceded 100 points on only one occasion this year – when the Tigers scored exactly that number in Round 11.
  • The Swans rank 15th in the league for centre clearances per game, but fifth for general stoppage clearances. 


What is Sydney’s Record Like in Grand Finals?

The Swans have made 17 Grand Finals in their 125 years in the VFL/AFL, winning just five and losing 12 of them. Since the formerly South Melbourne based club moved to Sydney, they’ve made six Grand Finals, winning two and losing four. 


Sydney vs Geelong Head to Head

The Cats have had the wood over the Swans both since the beginning of the VFL/AFL, and since South Melbourne became Sydney. Overall the record sits at 125-103 in Geelong’s favour, while since the Swans moved north that record sits at 40-29 – again in the favour of the Cats.


Sydney Betting Markets

Check out the odds for some of the biggest betting markets relating to Sydney for the 2022 AFL Grand Final:


Sydney to win outright – $2.70

Sydney +12.5 – $1.91

Sydney to win by 1-39 points – $3.00

Sydney to win by 40+ points $13.00


Sydney Grand Final Tips


Lance Franklin to score 3+ goals @ $3.40 

In his 22 games this season, Buddy has scored three goals or more on eight occasions – more than once every three games, meaning anything over $3 is good value here. He’s also got plenty of experience on Grand Final Day – this will be his fifth – so shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the occasion, and has kicked three or more in two of his previous four Grand Finals. Add to that the fact that he bagged four against Geelong earlier in the year, and this looks like decent value.


Isaac Heeney To Score 2+ Goals @ $2.01 

It might be a bit of a risk to take two players to score x goals against one of the best defensive teams in the league, but Heeney is good value at over $2 here. He’s only managed one goal in each of his two finals so far this year, but prior to that he bagged at least a couple in five straight games and nine of his previous ten. In 24 games this year he’s kicked multiple goals on 14 occasions – more than half of his game – so at more than even money this presents good value. 


**Odds quoted are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change