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Footy Fix: preliminary finals

Rohan Connolly previews this weekend's two preliminary finals from the Collingwood training grounds.

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Sydney co-captain Jarrad McVeigh believes his side’s midfielders must be more accountable if the Swans are to end an 11-match AFL losing streak against Collingwood and overturn an eight-point loss to the Magpies in round 20.

The Swans had seven more scoring shots and eight more inside-50s than the Pies in the August 11 match at ANZ Stadium, the same venue for Friday night’s preliminary final. Most of the stats were in the Swans’ favour, but not the one that counted.

The clash has been thoroughly reviewed this week by the team, well aware of the grand final carrot dangling within reach.

Jarrad McVeigh at training today.

Jarrad McVeigh at training today. Photo: Ben Rushton

McVeigh was in no doubt about where the game was lost. ‘‘We probably got smacked in the midfield,’’ McVeigh said ahead of the Swans’ final training session for the week.

‘‘That was one area we weren’t too happy with, so we’ll have to rectify that this week.

‘‘We were too far off those guys and allowed them too much ball.

‘‘Their midfield’s been playing really well with (Dayne) Beams, (Dane) Swan, (Scott) Pendlebury - and (Dale) Thomas is back in form now.

‘‘That’s where their guns are, so we have to quell their influence and hurt them the other way.’

’To make matters worse for the Swans, Thomas was subbed out in the second quarter of that match and Swan didn’t play due to a club-imposed suspension for drinking. Sydney were also guilty of wasting a handful of chances to win the game in the fourth term.

‘‘We had a lot to improve on, and at the end of the game there were structural things we didn’t get right as well in the heat of the moment,’’ McVeigh said. ‘‘So we can definitely improve, and they’ve improved as well so it’s going to be a tight game I’d imagine.’’

While the home-ground advantage and a six-day turnaround are in the Swans’ favour, finals experience is something the Magpies have in spades. Only nine of the Swans’ likely team for the grand-final playoff have featured in a preliminary final, as opposed to the bulk of Collingwood’s squad.

McVeigh was confident his younger teammates would perform on the big stage. ‘‘They’re pretty level-headed guys, we don’t get ahead of ourselves,’’ the 27-year-old said. ‘‘They’ve been fine, they’ve played in finals in the last couple of years and got that experience.’’

Injured small forward Ben McGlynn engaged in only light jogging at the start of Wednesday’s SCG training session.

AAP