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Sewell to keep Hawkeye on Swan

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Martin Blake

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Footy Fix: grand final preview

Rohan Connolly previews the AFL grand final blockbuster between Sydney and Hawthorn.

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BRAD SEWELL (Hawthorn) v JOSH KENNEDY (Sydney)

Brad Sewell was upfront this week when asked about Josh ''Joey'' Kennedy and his influence for Sydney against his original team, Hawthorn. ''He's haunted us,'' said Sewell, who is the most likely marker for Kennedy on Saturday.

Even a perfunctory glance by the Hawthorn coaches at last Friday night's preliminary final in Sydney would have revealed Kennedy raking the ball out of stoppages (10 clearances) and kicking goals (two) while playing most of the game on no less a player than Scott Pendlebury.

Hawkeye: Brad Sewell shadows Josh Kennedy.

Hawkeye: Brad Sewell shadows Josh Kennedy. Photo: Getty Images

At 24, he is proving to be an outstanding finals player. He was Sydney's best player in the 2010 finals, his first year at the club, and excellent again in September last year. Kennedy has been arguably best-afield in both Sydney's finals wins this season. He averages 30 disposals a game in his six finals.

He also has a history of retribution against Hawthorn, which was only offering a one-year contract extension when the Swans came knocking at the end of 2009. He has a long memory.

Hawthorn will want to curtail him, and Brad Sewell tends to take these roles. Sewell plays two-way footy, proper footy. He will find the football, but can defend one-on-one. He switches from one mode to another seamlessly, which is the secret.

It will not be a tight tag, just a close match-up with a defensive bent. Kennedy also likes to drift forward and kick goals (27 this year).

Sewell has had a good year, and he played really well in his previous grand final appearance in 2008. He kicked the last goal in the round-22 match between these teams, finding room for a bounce from a centre clearance where no one else could find a sliver of space.

He will try to beat Kennedy to the ball when he can, and get off the leash at times to make the Swan accountable. Otherwise, he will end up being too reactive.

Kennedy will find a share of the ball, of that there's no doubt. For Sewell, it is about ensuring that it is not too healthy a share.

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