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The stats files: From NEAFL to Swans' finals weapon

Swans' finals weapon ready for launch

KURT Tippett is shaping as a late-season weapon for the Sydney Swans.

At his best when he gets some continuity, the 30-year-old is coming to hand nicely as finals approach.

When Tippett was in the ruck on Friday night, he reduced the influence of Adelaide's Sam Jacobs, proving a tougher contest for the in-form Crow than Sydney workhorse Callum Sinclair.

Tippett also pushed forward to kick a goal, his dangerous presence inside 50 making Sam Reid and Lance Franklin even tougher for opposition defenders to handle.

Reid has kicked six goals and taken 10 marks inside 50 since Tippett returned in round 20 and was critical in the Swans' comeback win over Adelaide.

Reid's absence from last year's Grand Final was felt, with the Swans toying with the idea of playing him in the decider despite him missing the entire season with injury.

Tippett's flexibility makes it tougher for Sydney to decide whether Sam Naismith – who is returning from injury – or Sinclair should share the ruck duties, as the Swans have a strong forward line with Reid inside 50. 

Kurt Tippett has given the Swans more options with their tall stocks. Picture: AFL Photos

That might depend on the match-ups, with the Swans potentially facing Melbourne and its ruckman Max Gawn in the first week of finals.

The Demons have a No.1 ruckman rated much higher than their back-up and are potentially vulnerable to an in-game injury or being worked over by a rucking duo in the finals.

If an untimely injury to a solo ruckman does cost a team a premiership, expect trade week to be change dramatically as clubs look to stockpile ruckmen.   

Tippett has his doubters, with his performance in last year's Grand Final (10 disposal, 17 hit-outs, one behind) hurting his reputation.

But he went into last year's decider beaten up after copping a broken jaw in the qualifying final and struggled to be at his best.

He has performed exceptionally well in finals other than Grand Finals and he will go in fresher this year than in previous seasons, having played just 660 minutes of AFL football this year. It's his first season under 1000 minutes in 10 years and way below those he will be competing against in the finals. 

The Swans know his value, particularly when he has played successive games, and are timing his run well.

Although they may be in a cut-throat final in week one, it would not be completely out of the question to have Tippett play NEAFL in the pre-finals bye to ensure he is not first up from a short spell in the first week of the finals.

From round seven onwards, the Swans have needed everything to go right to win the flag. 

So far, so good on the Tippett front.

Target Times Score % Target Times Score %
Sinclair 20 45 Franklin 17 41
Franklin 12 42 Reid 13 77
Hewett 6 50 Tippett 9 44
Towers 4 25 Rohan 6 67
Heeney 3 33 Hayward 6 67
Parker 3 100 Sinclair 4 75
  Games Avg. disp. Marks I50 Marks Goals
Kurt Tippett 8 9.3 26 13 6
Callum Sinclair 16 12.4 46 18 11
Sam Naismith 16 12.4 46 18 11

Who's rucking for the flag contenders?

Adelaide: Sam Jacobs, Reilly O'Brien, Josh Jenkins
Essendon: Tom Bellchambers, Matthew Leuenberger, Joe Daniher
Geelong: Zac Smith, Rhys Stanley, Wylie Buzza
Greater Western Sydney: Shane Mumford, Dawson Simpson, Rory Lobb
Melbourne: Max Gawn, Cam Pedersen, Tom McDonald
Port Adelaide: Paddy Ryder, Charlie Dixon
Richmond: Toby Nankervis, Ivan Soldo, Shaun Hampson
Sydney: Sam Naismith, Callum Sinclair, Kurt Tippett

Collingwood close, but no cigar

The Magpies' average losing margin of 18 is the lowest of any non-finalist since the Tigers missed the finals in 2012 with an average losing margin of 15. Richmond reached finals in the following three seasons under Damien Hardwick.

Rising Stars or overblown balloons?

Only three clubs have had five or more NAB Rising Star nominations in a season before Carlton in 2017: Essendon in 1993, Fremantle in 1996 and Greater Western Sydney in 2012.

While the baby Bombers miraculously won a premiership that season, the Dockers did not make finals until seven years after the original nominations. Not one of the nominated Dockers played in the club's first final, which coincidentally was against Essendon who had three of its 1993 nominations playing. The Giants had five of their eight nominees play in last year's finals series, four seasons after the year they were nominated.

1993 Essendon: Joe Misiti, James Hird, Dustin Fletcher, Ricky Olarenshaw, Mark Mercuri
1996 Fremantle: Daniel Bandy, Greg Harding, Kingsley Hunter, Luke Toia, Craig Callaghan
2012 GWS: Jeremy Cameron, Tomas Bugg, Stephen Coniglio, Dylan Shiel, Toby Greene, Adam Treloar, Devon Smith, Dom Tyson
2017 Carlton: Caleb Marchbank, Sam Petrevski-Seton, David Cuningham, Jack Silvagni, Charlie Curnow

James Hird and Joe Misiti celebrates Essendon's 1993 premiership. Picture: AFL Photos

Will the comeback Cats meet their match?

The Cats found themselves behind at three quarter-time for the 12th time this season, yet, for the sixth time in 2017, managed to overcome the deficit and win.

In round 23, the Cats are pitted against the only other top-eight team to have found themselves in the same predicament as often this season with Greater Western Sydney trailing at three quarter-time 10 times this season but getting up to win four times.


Suns swamped by red and black

Essendon had 40 more inside 50s than Gold Coast on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium, the 19th-biggest inside 50 differential in history and the second-biggest inside 50 differential this season, behind Adelaide's 50 more inside 50s than Port Adelaide in round 20.

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