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Swans to relish test from Magpies
By Sam Lienert
20:04 AEST Sun Aug 5 2012

Sydney coach John Longmire is welcoming Saturday night's blockbuster AFL clash with bogey side Collingwood as the ideal pre-finals test.

The Swans are a game clear on top of the AFL ladder after extending their winning streak to nine with a 14.9 (93) to 10.11 (71) win over Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The visitors were never seriously threatened after kicking four of the first five goals.

Hard-working midfielders Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh, Josh Kennedy and Daniel Hannebery were all very impressive.

But the win came at a potentially heavy cost, 297-game veteran Jude Bolton subbed off with what might be a serious knee injury.

He will have scans on Monday.

While Sydney's form is excellent, they face a difficult run to the finals, including clashes with Hawthorn and Geelong.

But the ANZ Stadium encounter with the third-placed Magpies will be as significant as any.

Not only are Collingwood and second-placed Adelaide the two sides within a game of Sydney, but the Swans have lost their past 10 meetings with the Magpies, making the coming clash a great gauge of Sydney's improvement.

"It's an important game to be able to play a team that's played in grand finals previously and be able to play them at this time of the year and a team that's in really good form," Longmire told reporters.

"It's a good challenge for our group.

"We've come up short in the past, Collingwood have been just too good for us.

"Our challenge is to try and lift and see if we can improve enough to be able to catch those really good teams."

Blues coach Brett Ratten said the Swans were playing as well as any AFL club, particularly their defensive and one-on-one work.

"They like to be underrated, that's why they just carry that and hose everything down and do it very well," he said.

"They're as good as nearly anyone going.

"I think Hawthorn and them are the two (form) teams."

Ratten took some heart from the Blues fighting the game out and the comeback performance of key forward Jarrad Waite, who notched eight marks and three goals.

The Blues, who lost defender Michael Jamison (hamstring), are now two wins outside the top eight and hold only faint finals hopes.

"While we've still got a heartbeat we'll make sure we keep pushing on," Ratten said.