Sydney Cricket Ground, Paddington, Sydney Australia
The smoke and mirrors of the NAB Challenge ended officially over the weekend. The footballing pundits had locked in their 2016 season predictions based on the past month of pre-season football. Whatever conclusions were drawn, the forthcoming season scenario for the Sydney Swans wasn’t looking promising. Too old, too slow, too many unknown faces we were told. Collingwood would enter the SCG and herald a new era of Magpie dominance we were told. The Sydney Swans players were having none of the 2016 doomsday scenarios being touted as they tore apart the Collingwood football team with tenacity, pace and utter commitment you’d expect to see from a Swans team circa 2012.
The game could not have began as perfect as it did for Sydney when star forward Lance Franklin goaled within the first minute of the game.The Swan’s first half tackling and application to the contested football was astonishing. Collingwood struggled to gain any penetration into their forward area, whereas the Swans carried and ran hard with the ball peppering the goals at every opportunity.
Incredibly the contested possession count at the half time break was Sydney 84 to Collingwood’s 59 which clearly illustrated the Swans domination at the ball. They also kept the Pies to a solitary goal.The Swans had posted 10 goals and it could have been a lot more except for wayward kicking and led at the long break 10.12 to 1.4.
For Sydney Jake Lloyd was superb leading the disposal count with 21 possessions. He was ably assisted by Luke Parker and Dan Hannebery. Whilst for Collingwood, debutante and former GWS Giant’s midfielder Adam Treloar was the only player worth mentioning in a dismal 1st half performance by his side. Buddy Franklin had booted 4 goals to the half, whilst Tom Mitchell and first-gamer Tom Papley had booted 2 goals each. Collingwood’s only goal scorer for the half was Levi Greenwood. To make matters worse for the Pies, key midfielder Dane Swan copped a nasty leg injury (broken fibula and fractures) early in the game.The 2011 Brownlow medalist will miss a fair chunk of the 2016 season and is expected to undergo surgery in the coming days.
After half-time Sydney continued to play in a similar fashion and never let the Collingwood side back into the game. Despite Collingwood booting some late consolation goals, Sydney ran out the easiest of victors with an 80 point margin.
It was a dream start to season 2016 for Sydney with 5 players making their first appearance for the club. AFL debutantes Tom Papley, George Hewett and Callum Mills were superb. Papley kicked 3 goals, Hewett 1 goal and Callum Mills had an impressive 18 disposals for the game. The other Swans 2016 acquisitions in ruckman Callum Sinclair (West Coast Eagles) and defender Michael Talia (Western Bulldogs) also had great games. Sinclair had 12 disposals and ably assisted Kurt Tippett in the ruck with 11 hit outs. Talia collected a serviceable 10 possessions and added some much needed defensive structure for Sydney considering the off-season departure of key defender Rhyce Shaw.
There was little to cheer about for Collingwood, with Adam Treloar being the outstanding exception. Treloar collected 34 disposals and booted one goal for the game. His characteristic runs through the middle of the ground and evading tacklers were a joy to watch in an otherwise abysmal night that the Magpies will want to forget very quickly. Scott Pendlebury was another player who also tried to lift his side with 24 possessions, but he had few mates in a club that prides itself on the ethic of team.
Swans coach John Longmire expressed guarded enthusiasm about the win, but wasn’t going to be carried away with the big victory. For Collingwood a sullen Nathan Buckley was clearly unhappy with the effort and commitment of his side. The loss of Dane Swan did nothing to alleviate the pain of the loss, but also mid week controversy over releases of test results of Collingwood player hair samples indicating the alleged use of illicit drugs during the off-season cast an unpleasant and dark pall over the mood of the Collingwood coach’s post-game press conference.
Sydney can build on the weekend’s win when they face Carlton next Sunday afternoon in Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. The Pies return to the MCG for the traditional blockbuster game against an in-form Richmond on Friday night. In terms of the AFL ladder, Sydney sit in 2nd place, whilst Collingwood are 17th.
SYDNEY SWANS 3.9 10.12 14.21 18.25 (133)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 1.4 5.6 7.11 (53)
Sydney Swans: Franklin 4, Mitchell 3, Papley 3, Cunningham 2, Hewett, Towers, Hannebery, Parker, Jones, Heeney
Collingwood: Greenwood, Crisp, De Goey, Moore, Fasolo, Treloar, Maynard
Sydney Swans: Lloyd, Grundy, Franklin,
Collingwood: Treloar, Adams, Pendlebury
Sydney Swans: Franklin (shoulder)
Collingwood: Swan (ankle), Williams (knee), Brown (shoulder)
Reports: Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood) for rough conduct on Dan Hannebery (Sydney Swans) in the third quarter
Umpires: Jordan Bannister, Jeff Dalgleish, Justin Schmitt
Official crowd: 33, 857 at the SCG