The undermanned Swans are determined to avoid yet another first half flogging by Fremantle in Perth, foreshadowing a ferocious start to Saturday’s AFL qualifying final.
The Dockers jumped the Swans in each of their last two matches in the cauldron-like atmosphere at the Perth venue.
Fremantle kicked nine goals to two in the first half of their clash earlier this season and outscored Sydney 7.11 to 2.2 by the long break in a preliminary final there two years ago.
The Swans fought back in both games but each was lost and midfielder Josh Kennedy said a good start on Saturday was vital.
“It’s going to be on early and (in) finals football the intensity goes up another level,” Kennedy said on Thursday.
“We’re going to have to match it or beat them in that area from the first bounce, so it will be a real focus no doubt for both sides and a good start is crucial.”
Kennedy and the Swans are in hot form.
The Swans have won their past four matches, the last three by margins of 89, 97 and 63 points and Kennedy has racked up 30 or more possessions in 10 straight games.
Kennedy conceded the absence of four key players in forward Lance Franklin, defender Nick Smith and midfielders Kieren Jack and Luke Parker could lead to lower outside expectations of the Swans.
“Maybe externally it might, with the injury list going in and the fact that Freo have had a fantastic season finishing on top,” Kennedy said.
“But internally we’re confident with whoever else comes in and guys have really stepped up in the last few weeks.
“Reidy (Sam Reid), Tippo (Kurt Tippett) down forward. Goodesy (Adam Goodes) is in great form as well.
“We’re pretty confident going over there and our expectation is that we play well and get the job done.”
He felt forward-ruckman Tippett was in career-best form, though he faced a massive task against Fremantle’s ruck colossus Aaron Sandilands.
“We just want him to provide a really good contest and give us a bit of run and a bit of oomph down forward as well,” Kennedy said.
He also drew confidence from the form of fellow midfielder and newly-crowned AFL Coaches Association player of the year Dan Hannebery.
“The way he has played and gone about it I think makes me a better player and no doubt has that affect on lot of others in the midfield and in the team,” Kennedy said.