AAP AFL

Longmire wary of AFL’s stingiest defence

By AAP Newswire

Geelong's midfield generally hogs the headlines, but Sydney coach John Longmire is just as wary of finding a way to overwhelm the AFL's stingiest defence.

The Swans host the Cats at the SCG on Thursday night in a contest that will be a good gauge of both sides' premiership credentials.

Sydney risk tumbling out of the top four if they lose, while percentage is all that currently separates the eighth-placed Cats from ninth-placed North Melbourne and 10th-placed Hawthorn.

Quelling the influence of Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett will rank high on Longmire's wishlist this week, with George Hewett likely to shadow one of the star midfielders.

Longmire admitted Hewett had a "big task ahead of him" but also highlighted the Cats' defence.

The Swans have boasted the stingiest back six in recent years but Geelong currently holds that mantle in 2018, having conceded a league-best 9.7 goals per game this season.

"Their defence has been super all year," Longmire told reporters.

"That's probably been one of their biggest strengths.

"They're a really even team and we expect a really tough contest.

"Both teams are in the same boat, trying to bounce back after a loss ... our games against Geelong are ripping games of footy most times and we expect this week to be no different."

The Cats have done well this year to fill the immense void left by veteran defenders Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie, who both retired at the end of the 2017 season.

Versatile big man Mark Blicavs, who suffered a toe injury last week, has excelled as a key defender and looms as Lance Franklin's likely opponent provided he is passed fit.

The Swans enjoyed a 17-point win over the Cats in Geelong earlier this season, which Franklin missed because of injury.