Crucial misses, dropped marks, poorly taken kicks and a contentious last minute marking call have cost the Sydney Swans an upset victory over cross-city rivals the Greater Western Sydney Giants on Saturday at Homebush. The Giants hung on to win by 2 points, but were extremely lucky to come away with the 4 points. Despite an unimpressive performance, the Giants have now won three games in a row and have consolidated at the very least, a finals berth. For Sydney the mathematics of making the 2019 finals series equates to zero. It will be the first time since 2009 that the Swans will have no post-season action.
Sydney got off to a positive start with consecutive goals to Tom Papley and Ben Ronke chiming in to give the Swans a handy 16 point buffer. Lachie Keeffe was the unlikely Giants first goal scorer and was quickly followed up by Lachie Whitfield and the game settled down into arm wrestle. The Giants gained the upper hand in the second quarter booting 5 goals to Sydney’s one. Giants small forward Bobby Hill set the Giants fans alight with a superb goal, whilst Jacob Hopper chimed in with 2 goals as the Giants went into the sheds with a 13 point lead.
When the match resumed, Sydney refused to drop their work rate. Unlike last week’s game where the Swans faded against a talented Geelong line-up, they rallied and fought hard to remain in the contest. Isaac Heeney stepped up for the Swans and kicked two goals for the term. The Giants were outscored and held a slender 5 point lead at the final break. Zac Williams was brilliant for the Giants. Placed in the midfield he was able to set up many moves forward, picking up 32 disposals and laying 6 tackles. Nick Haynes again repelled any offensive pressure by taking his now signature clearing backline marks. For Sydney Jake Lloyd and Oliver Florent were the main disposal getters, whilst Zac Jones and Josh Kennedy applied pressure to the Giants in the contest laying a combined 17 tackles between them.
The final quarter could best be described as a succession of Sydney errors which dearly cost them when the game needed to be decided. Isaac Heeney who was one of the Swans better players, kicked two manageable shots on goal for only behinds. James Rose had two chances as well to put the game on ice but he to failed to grasp his opportunities. Rose spilled an easy chest mark right in front of goals and later, ironically took a difficult contested mark for a shot on goal. His kick at the goals was deplorable and was smothered by a Giants defender.
The other bad mistake made was when Robbie Fox made a poor choice by kicking the ball back into the centre region where the ball was intercepted and Jeremy Finlayson goaled for the Giants. Isaac Heeney would make amends of his poor kicking by booting a goal to reduce the deficit by three points. In the mad scramble of the final seconds Sam Reid looked to have marked the ball just in front of goals and also be impeded by a Giants defender. The umpires disagreed and called play on. A rushed behind was scored, however the Giants were saved by the final siren and run out lucky winners by 2 points.
Sydney coach John Longmire thought the effort was there from his side “We played well for 3 quarters, we won some quarters of the game, but we dropped away in the second quarter and that’s what’s cost us in the end. It’s another close one where we’ve given a fair bit but we just didn’t get over the line”. Giants coach Leon Cameron was obviously relieved “Yeah, one or two points in the last two weeks have been a bit nerve wracking at the end but it speaks volumes for our footy club. We’ve been a lot better in close games in the past 3 years. Sensing the moment and delivering on it is always interesting but you take it (a win) any way you can get it at this time of the year”.
The Greater Western Sydney Giants 5th (12 wins, 7 losses) take on Hawthorn 12th (8 wins, 11 losses) in Canberra on Friday night with weather forecasters predicting a very cold winter’s night. Sydney 15th (6 wins, 13 losses) venture to the Adelaide Oval to play an in-form Port Adelaide 9th (9 wins, 10 losses) on Saturday afternoon
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.4 8.5 10.10 12.11 (83)
SYDNEY 5.0 6.4 10.5 12.9 (81)
Greater Western Sydney: Hopper 3, Himmelberg 2, Finlayson 2, Keeffe, Daniels, Hill, Greene, Whitfield
Sydney: Heeney 4, Ronke 2, Papley 2, Blakey, Menzel, Dawson, Clarke
Greater Western Sydney: Haynes, Williams, Greene, Hopper
Sydney: Heeney, Lloyd, Florent, Kennedy
Greater Western Sydney: Dawson Simpson replaced by Aiden Bonar, Finlayson (dislocated finger)
Umpires: Leigh Haussen, Matt Stevic, Robert O’Gorman
Official crowd: 16,116 at Giants Stadium, Homebush, Sydney Olympic Park Precinct, New South Wales Australia