The Sydney Swans have finally broken a six-game losing streak with a comprehensive 53 point win over Melbourne at the MCG on Friday. Oliver Florent played his best game for the Swans being the leading disposal getter with 28 touches, 4 marks and 4 tackles. In a marking master class, Sam Reid was the leading Sydney goal scorer with 3 goals. There were few highlights for the Melbourne team that barely offered resistance. Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney had the most disposals between them for the Demons with Jake Melksham booting 3 goals.
The Swans looked vulnerable in the ruck, with rookie stand-in Hayden McLean a late withdrawal being replaced with tall defender Lewis Melican. With Aliir Aliir taking on the rucking duties against Max Gawn, Sydney began the match in a positive manner and quickly posted the first goal of the game in under 40 seconds thanks to Sam Reid. Minutes later, Tom Papley and Sam Reid posted goals and Sydney shot out to a handy 17 point lead. The Demons managed to get themselves back into the game thanks to Jake Melksham who kicked consecutive goals. At the first break Sydney held a slender 6 point lead.
Melbourne’s hopes of being competitive in the second term were completely undone by a relentless Sydney team. The Swans pressured, chased and harassed the Demons into total submission. Sam Reid kicked his third goal for the match and marked nearly every attempt. Goals to Jordan Dawson and Tom McCartin saw Sydney go to the sheds at the half-time break with a 4 goal lead. Melbourne were insipid. They failed to score a goal for the term, kicking a woeful 2 behinds. In someways it was a snapshot of their disastrous 2019 season which has seen them come from a game away from the 2018 Grand Final to absolute cellar dwellers. Their descent into mediocrity has been nothing short of shocking with many predicting a top four finish prior to the start of the season.
The Demons woes continued in the third quarter where again they failed to kick a goal. Nick Blakey, Daniel Menzel and James Rowbottom each scored singles, whilst Jake Melksham was badly inaccurate kicking 3 behinds. Nick Blakey was outstanding in the contest. He was fierce at the ball and managed to slip several tackles and get the ball out to a passing team mate. He was also got fired up whenever a Melbourne player nudged or spoke back at him. Blakey refused to take a backward step and was fearless in his comeback to anyone who questioned his intent.
Melbourne were finally able to kick a couple of goals in the last quarter to save what little face it had left. The Swans kicked 5 goals for the term and ran out impressive winners by 53 points. Florent, Blakey and Reid were Sydney’s best, with Max Gawn, Jake Melksham and Clayton Oliver the better of the Melbourne side. Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin was at a loss in explaining his sides performance “I think the Melbourne fans deserve better. Tonight was unacceptable and probably reflective of where we have been for the year”.
Sydney coach John Longmire was happy to be in the winners circle after 6 weeks without a win “We think over the last six or seven weeks we’ve played some good footy despite that we’ve lost a few by a couple of points or more which has meant you don’t get that winning feeling. We’ve been taking steps forward as a team”.
Sydney 7th, (7 wins, 14 losses) will end the season with a big celebration of sorts come this Saturday against St-Kilda 14th, (9 wins, 12 losses) The Swans will say goodbye to former captains Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh. No doubt recently retired defender Nick Smith will join in on the farewells. Lance Franklin will also add to the festivities if he is selected with his 300th AFL game. The match will also be the annual Pride match which celebrates diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQI community. Melbourne 17th, (5 wins, 16 losses) will finish the season in Tasmania when they play North Melbourne 12th, (9 wins, 12 losses) on Saturday afternoon.
MELBOURNE 3.1 3.3 3.7 5.12 (42)
SYDNEY 4.1 7.3 10.3 15.5 (95)
Melbourne: Melksham 3, Fritsch, Neal-Bullen
Sydney: Reid 3, Dawson 2, McCartin 2, Menzel 2, Papley 2, Rowbottom 2, Bell, Blakey
Melbourne: Melksham, Gawn, Oliver, Viney
Sydney: Blakey, Florent, Reid, Kennedy, Parker Rampe
Melbourne: Salem (leg), Gawn (hamstring)
Umpires: Andrew Stephens, Robert Findlay, Eleni Glouftsis
Official crowd: 23,700 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Jolimont, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia