Sydney Cricket Ground, Paddington, Sydney Australia
Three and zero that’s the Sydney Swans current 2016 AFL record and at the moment they are looking just as good as any of their other “prototypes” that have been rolled out at similar starts to an AFL season. Just looking at the numbers for the past 3 seasons, in 2014 the year Sydney made the grand final, they were 1-3 in their first four home and away games and were being written off. In 2015 they were 3-1 after 4 games. You could argue they look, feel and are operating in the same manner as previous seasons, however the remarkable thing about the Sydney Swans is that they seem to have re-invented themselves into a classic blend of experience and youth.
Never was this point more evident on Saturday afternoon against the Greater Western Sydney Giants. The “old firm” of Buddy Franklin, Heath Grundy,Ted Richards and co, out contested, out maneuvered and emphasized scoreboard pressure at every given opportunity. The GWS Giants boys are a team in a hurry and the Swans made it patently clear they were not going to be going anywhere fast on their home turf of the SCG. Swans young guns in Isaac Heeney, Tom Papley and Tom Mitchell (whilst having played only 42 games) are really having an influence of the rebuild of the Sydney team. Special mention must go to Jake Lloyd, he is the classic “quiet achiever”. Lloyd has gone under the radar of many a side to their peril and is racking up many effective possessions and is providing drive for his team.
Sydney led for the majority of the game in the contested ball count and finished winning that tally 160-148. The Swans players in and around the contest did not allow players such as Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio and Toby Greene to be as effective as they usually are by setting up their infamous running play dubbed the ‘Orange Tsunami ”
Swans on-ballers in Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy were devastating in the midfield amassing some 90 possessions between them and provided solid supply to key forwards in Lance “Buddy” Franklin and Kurt Tippett. Tippett is proving all the pundits wrong. There were claims he was being wasted in the ruck and should spend more time in the forward zone.Well Mr Tippett has become a dual threat. His ruckwork has been extremely efficient and then when he moves down field into the top of the forward 50 metre arc he’s a potential target and he’s kicking goals.He booted two valuable goals when the game needed to be won on Saturday. He also won the hit-out count against the Giants key ruckman Shane Mumford 32-30.
There were times the GWS Giants brought their exciting, running style of football to the fore and it was during the second quarter they began to assert some authority on the game. Kept goaless in the first quarter, the Giants booted 4 goals and were only a kick behind Sydney at the main break.
To the GWS Giants credit they strove to keep pace with Sydney, but the problem that has dogged this team since the inception of the club in 2012, has been poor disposal and bad attacking options that managed to rear it’s head when the game was needed to be won. Turnovers by the usually solid Heath Shaw and silly handballs cost the team. In fact Shaw had 6 clangers along with Toby Greene and Tom Scully. Coach Leon Cameron said after the game that his team needed to continually work hard at their skill level so that their turnover of the ball could be reduced.
As for Swans coach John Longmire he was impressed with the effort of his senior playing group, but was also quick to praise his younger players where many haven’t racked up 50 games yet.
The recurring theme we are are finding out with regards to team management in the AFL of 2016 is you must be able to re-invent and re-invigorate your team list to be able to continue and build on past successes.
The Sydney Swans are currently top of the AFL ladder (3-0), whilst Greater Western Sydney Giants are in 11th spot (1-2)
This week we’ll know more about both Sydney teams character. The Swans have a very tough assignment against Adelaide who are in hot form after defeating Richmond in Melbourne over the weekend. Sydney play the Crows in Adelaide on Saturday night. The Greater Western Sydney team venture back to the nation’s capital and play another South Australian team in Port Adelaide who are fresh off a win over Essendon. The Power will take much needed confidence into the game. GWS Giants play Port Adelaide at Manuka Oval, Canberra next Sunday afternoon at 1:10 pm.
SYDNEY SWANS 2.3 5.4 8.7 14.9 (93)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.2 4.4 6.5 10.8 (68)
Sydney Swans: Franklin 4, Tippett 2, Hannebery 2, Mitchell, Heeney, Sinclair, Parker, Papley, McGlynn
Greater Western Sydney: Patton 2, Palmer 2, Coniglio 2, Ward, Mumford, Johnson, Kelly
Sydney Swans: Parker, Franklin, Lloyd
Greater Western Sydney: Shiel, Davis, Scully
Sydney Swans: Nil
Greater Western Sydney: Corr (ankle)
Umpires: Robert O’Gorman, Simon Meredith, Shaun Ryan
Official crowd: 37,045 at the SCG