1. Double their luck
They may not have been watching Fremantle's loss to Richmond as they warmed up for Sunday's match, but no doubt some of the Sydney Swans' officials would have been keeping a close eye on the result. And they may also have snuck a peek at the pulsating finish to the game between Adelaide and Geelong. Both results went their way and, after systematically demolishing West Coast for the seventh time in succession, the Swans will now be difficult to dislodge from the top four. And they can further consolidate their position with a win against sixth-placed Richmond at the SCG next Sunday. It's the double-chance the reigning premiers may need if they are to again hold the premiership cup aloft. The other teams dreaming of a top-four finish, who now all sit more than a game and percentage behind the Swans, will have to hope the Swans fall against Geelong and Hawthorn in the final two weeks of the season.
2. Pressure points
The Eagles of 2011 and 2012 may have been renowned for their forward pressure, but the Swans have taken it to another level. In-close, it was the Swans whose disposal was cleaner and it was West Coast who was harassed and harangued into making errors. Invariably, it was Hannebery, Kennedy, McVeigh, Jack, Lamb or O'Keefe who would extricate himself from the clinches and start the Swans' spread. West Coast, meanwhile, was rarely able to break free and, when any player did, there was a Swan breathing down his neck.
3. Hannebery or Ablett?
It's tough to argue that Gary Ablett won't win the 2013 Brownlow Medal. But if anyone is to challenge the Little Master for the right to take Charlie home, it will surely be the Swans' Daniel Hannebery. Over the past two years, the 22-year-old has developed into one of the AFL's hardest-working midfielders. And, against West Coast, his gut-running destroyed West Coast in the first half. Before the match, he was averaging 26.6 disposals, 3.6 marks, three tackles and almost one goal a game. Those raw numbers are enough to suggest he will challenge Ablett for the medal. You can mark him down for the three votes against West Coast – he amassed 40 possessions and kicked two goals.
4. The walking wounded
It seems West Coast cannot take a trick. For most of the season, the Eagles have been cruelled by injury. And, while not playing their best footy, they have managed to eke out enough victories to keep themselves just in the finals race. In recent weeks, their form has also improved and their supporters have been dreaming of a late-season resurgence, especially given the suite of stars who are expected to return. Instead, the injury curse has struck again. While Sharrod Wellingham and Luke Shuey returned, West Coast lost both Matt Rosa and Jacob Brennan before bouncedown. And Shuey was substituted out of the game at half-time because of hamstring tightness. In coming weeks, Daniel Kerr, Scott Selwood, Beau Waters and Brad Sheppard are expected to return. But they will have little impact if the curse continues. Meanwhile, Nic Naitanui appears to be severely constrained by his groin injury. While he managed 10 handballs against the Swans, he only kicked the ball twice and has lost the ability to run down opponents.
5. Hungry Jacks
There are few players with more desire than Kieren Jack. Against West Coast, the son of rugby league star Garry Jack simply ran harder than his opponents, especially when the Swans were breaking forward. He was so often the link in a chain of handballs that led to a Swans' goal and, with Josh Kennedy, he may conspire to rob Hannebery of enough votes to win the Brownlow. West Coast might also have thought it was seeing double against the Swans as Jack's little brother Brandon chimed in for 11 disposals and a goal in a performance that would have given Swans fans yet another reason to be optimistic about the club's future.