Melbourne bracing for AFL grand final worst nightmare?
MELBOURNE'S worst nightmare, an all-Sydney Grand Final, has taken a big step towards reality with GWS finding their mojo demolishing Melbourne in Canberra and the Swans doing likewise to Geelong on their home turf.
The harbour city match-up came within a solitary kick of becoming a reality last year when the Giants fell just six points shy of the Western Bulldogs in an epic preliminary final at Spotless Stadium.
In May the prospect looked near impossible when the Swans started the season 0-6 but an 11-2 run topped off by Friday night's domination of the Cats has them equal second favourites ($5 with the TAB) for the premiership alongside the Giants.
The top of the ladder Adelaide Crows are outright favourites at $3.50.
What has the competition nervous is the improvement which is likely to come over the last three rounds before the finals.
GWS is the scariest - their stellar midfield of Josh Kelly, Dylan Shiel and Callan Ward has just been bolstered by the returns of Stephen Coniglio, Jacob Hopper and Brett Deledio.
After just two games back from injury Coniglio's impact has been dramatic.
He was enormous in the win over the Demons with 27 possessions including 17 contested, six tackles and a goal. Hopper's class is obvious along and with Coniglio will allow Kelly and Shiel to work where they do their best, on the outside.
"They are much better with a combination of inside and out and they got that with Hopper and Coniglio and Mumford," Giants coach Leon Cameron said.
Deledio and Hopper will only get better in the coming weeks before the finals.
The talent-laden midfield will have plenty of targets to kick to with Toby Greene (suspension) and Jonathon Patton (hamstring) set to return for Friday night's showdown with the Bulldogs.
"I expect the two of them to play," Cameron said.
The only downside from Saturday's win was the prospect of losing Shane Mumford to suspension over a high bump on Max Gawn and a slamming tackle on Corey Maynard but Cameron is confident Dawson Simpson can fill his shoes if needed.
"If it happens Dawson Simpson is an absolute perfect replacement because he gets in and has a crack," Cameron said.
The Swans have the potential to improve dramatically as well with their skipper Josh Kennedy likely to be back for Saturday's clash with Fremantle at the SCG.
"He's certainly not ruled out for the game against Fremantle and hopefully he'll come back," Swans football manager Tom Harley said.
"Josh ran on Wednesday and having to travel to Geelong on the Thursday we ruled him out on the Wednesday."
Swans big man Sam Naismith is also a chance to return to action on Saturday.
"Sam is in the same boat as Josh," Harley said
"He's had a knock to the hip and the side strain. He was improving as the week went on. We've got an eight day break and the Thursday training session will be the important one for Sam."
Punters are set to cash in if Sydney's teams meet on the last Saturday in September with the Swans-Giants quinella shortening from $250 to $17 and the combination is the fourth most popular bet at the TAB.