Despite missing the finals for the first time since 2009, the Sydney Swans have finished the end of the 2019 season on a high note by defeating St-Kilda by 45 points. On a day of celebration, the Swans farewelled Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh, Nick Smith and Heath Grundy. Lance Franklin also celebrated his 300th AFL game.
A healthy crowd of over 33,500 turned up to the Sydney Cricket Ground in glorious spring sunshine to celebrate the game of football. The match itself was packed with so many story lines such as Buddy’s milestone, retirements,the Pride game (acknowledgment of the LGBTQI community) and the return of former Swan Dan Hannebery to the SCG.
St-Kilda got off to a positive start with Josh Bruce taking an excellent, contested pack mark to boot the Saints first goal. Sydney quickly got into gear and built a handy lead by posting 6 goals which included Lance Franklin. The Sydney fans roared Buddy’s goal loudly with approval with the draw-card forward making a long awaited return to senior football after a nagging hamstring injury.
To St-Kilda’s credit they hit back strongly in the second term. Josh Bruce again opened the scoring for the quarter and was followed by goals from Ben Long and Seb Ross. The Saints midfield were doing their job in winning the ball with Jack Steele a tireless worker. Steele made 7 tackles and had 28 disposals. He was well supported by Dan Hannebery, Luke Dunstan and Hunter Clark. St-Kilda kept Sydney goalless for the term and went into the sheds at half-time with scores level.
The Saints kept up their good work from the second term and hit the lead thanks to a Jack Steven goal. With a loss of the lead, Sydney were determined not to let such an important day not go their way. Josh Kennedy stepped up and goaled and was soon followed by Lance Franklin. Tom McCartin kicked two goals for quarter which included a strong mark well taken inside the 50 forward area.
“Normal Service” was resumed for the Swans and they were never threatened by St-Kilda after the 5 goals to 2 third term. The main highlights for the game occurred in the final term when Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh both kicked goals. When each player scored their goals, the massive roar from the crowd was something to behold. It was a spine tingling moment of acknowledgement of the incredible input and success these two players have generated for the Sydney Swans football club over the past decade. When the final siren blew the Sydney Swans were the victors of the annual Pride game by 45 points.
The only act to play after the siren was the walk-off of the Swans 300 gamer in Lance Franklin and the playing career retirees of Kieren Jack, Nick Smith, Heath Grundy and Jarrad McVeigh. Each player was hoisted high. The St-Kilda football club showed tremendous sportsmanship in forming a guard of honour. That was added to by Dan Hannebery, a former teammate of the Sydney players. Hannebery along with Dane Rampe helped carry off Jarrad McVeigh to resounding applause. An end of an era had sadly arrived at the SCG.
Sydney coach John Longmire was happy with the win and acknowledged the emotional scenes post-game. However, Longmire quickly pointed to the hard reality that his side were missing finals for the first time in several years “We’re not playing finals. I think it’s important to acknowledge that. Luke Parker has played 190 games of football since his debut and this is the first time he hasn’t played in a finals series. We’ll be looking on with envy the next five weeks”.
Caretaker coach for St-Kilda Brett Ratten said whilst there were positives from the game he was disappointed his team weren’t able to make the best of their chances ” I thought we really squandered our opportunities in the second quarter. When it’s 5.9 to 6.3 we’ve had five more scoring shots and we don’t put on any scoreboard pressure to be 3 or four goals up and you have some breathing space. But whether it was the first quarter or the last quarter our skill level is not at the level that is needed”
So the 2019 AFL season ends for Sydney 15th, (8 wins, 14 losses) and St Kilda 14th, (9 wins, 13 losses). Both teams had genuine finals aspirations, but had disappointing seasons. Sydney has officially acknowledged that it is going through a process of rebuilding via youth. St Kilda started 2019 well, but ended up going nowhere and it’s coach of several seasons Alan Richardson resigned. The Saints still have issues to resolve such as appointing a full time head coach. At the post-game presser, Brett Ratten reveled on Saturday that the club is expected to make a decision on the coaching position in the next week or so. Ratten also indicated at the post-game presser that the club will be looking closely towards the draft for new talent, acknowledging that the club still has a long way to go before it achieves a finals berth.
SYDNEY 6.2 6.3 11.4 17.7 (109)
ST KILDA 2.5 5.9 7.12 8.16 (64)
Sydney: Franklin 4, McCartin 3, Kennedy 2, Papley 2, Parker 2, Blakey, Rowbottom, McVeigh, Jack
St Kilda: Bruce 2, Ross 2, Membrey, Long, Steven, Steele
Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Franklin, Papley,McCartin
St Kilda: Steele, Hannebery, Ross, Clarke, Marshall
Sydney: McCartin (quad strain)
St Kilda: –
Umpires: Jeff Dalgleish, Robert Findlay, Andre Gianfagna
Official crowd: 33,722 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Moore Park, Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia