Sydney Cricket Ground, Paddington, Sydney Australia
On Saturday morning, as a Sydneysider you could have been forgiven for feeling like a delicatessen salami or ham. The good folk of the Emerald City awoke to a heavy shroud of smoke that had come from controlled bush burn-offs from the outlying Blue Mountains. Like Essendon’s former sponsor, Don Smallgoods, the Bombers suffered a similar ‘smoking” later in the day when the Swans ran rampant in the second half of their clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground running out 81 point winners. To be fair the Dons were reasonably competitive, but were unable to control the irresistible forward play of Lance Franklin and Isaac Heeney.
The game was relatively evenly poised for the first two quarters, with Essendon keeping pace with Sydney and did take the lead for a very short time, however as mentioned, Buddy Franklin and Isaac Heeney were superb up forward booting 5 goals between them in the first half. The surprising aspect of Isaac Heeney’s game was the ability to take strong marks in a pack like situation. He’s not the classic tall forward and to be able to take marks such as he did adds a great deal of potency up forward for the Swans. Lance Franklin has returned to his usual, sensational form. He booted goals whilst being tackled, kicking long goals on the run and under pressure. It has been a complete form turn around for a man who was in serious difficulties prior to the end of the 2015 season.
For Essendon, they received their drive around the midfield in David Zaharakis and from the defensive areas via veteran top-player in James Kelly. Brendon Goddard and Ryan Crowley also contributed, but were unable to keep pace with the Swans who were relentless in their 2nd half pressure.
Again the usual Swans midfield suspects of Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker and Tom Mitchell racked up a massive combined total of 137 disposals which was over a quarter of the teams total disposals of 439. Sydney had eight separate goalkickers with Franklin (6) and Heeney (5) booting eleven goals between them. Kurt Tippett also continues to confound the footballing pundits. Talk of being a “wasted resource” in the ruck and not spending enough time in the forward line has been silenced. Tippett has been superb in the rucking contests, providing excellent support to Callum Sinclair who has been an excellent pick-up for Sydney. Not only has Tippett’s ruckwork been brilliant, he’s kicking goals as well with a tally of 11 goals for the season after 7 rounds of footy.
Whilst the Essendon side is obviously treading water for the 2016 season and eagerly await the return of banned players with regards to the ASADA fiasco, they at times put together some very good football. All things considered, coach John Worsfold was relatively pleased with his team’s effort and is happy with the progress and rebuild that is occurring. Players such as Mitch Brown, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Orazio Fantasia are players that will prove handy in the coming years. Fantasia deserves special mention for an outstanding after the siren goal on the stroke of quarter time, that was taken on the edge of the 50 metre arc. Joe Daniher tried hard and presented many times pressing forward and despite being ineffectual on the scoreboard, the more games this young fellow plays, the more his skills and game sense will improve and will live up to the honored name of the Danihers.
Swans coach John Longmire expressed the view post-game that he was pleased in how his team finished off Essendon and were relentless in their pressure and hunger to score goals. Next week Sydney face a Richmond team hungry for a win and a return to form that has simply gone missing in 2016. That game will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday night. For Essendon their next assignment is against the unbeaten North Melbourne next Saturday afternoon at the Docklands Stadium. Sydney are placed 3rd on the AFL ladder, whilst Essendon are currently 17th.
SYDNEY SWANS 4.3 7.10 12.12 20.15 (135)
ESSENDON 3.3 5.5 6.9 7.12 (54)
Sydney Swans: Franklin 6, Heeney 5, Papley 2, Tippett 2, Jack 2, Sinclair, Hewett, McGlynn
Essendon: Zaharakis 2, Fantasia, Bird, Brown, Simpkin, McKernan
Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Heeney, Franklin,
Essendon: Zaharakis, Goddard, McDonald-Tipungwuti,
Sydney Swans: Robinson (shoulder)
Essendon: Simpkin (hamstring)
Umpires: Mathew Nicholls, Jack Edwards, Craig Fleer
Official crowd: 29,527 at SCG