SYDNEY VS. GWS GIANTS: THE BIG QUESTIONS

A dominant display across the field pushed the Giants into the top 4 as they produced a commanding 41-point win over their cross town rivals.

Here are the Big Questions from the Battle of the Bridge.

 

Are the Swans better without Buddy?

On first thought, the answer is no.

Like LeBron James in the NBA, any team that has Buddy in the forward line is more imposing. But it is noticeable that both Hawthorn and Sydney appear to be a lot more unpredictable going forward when Franklin is absent. When it became obvious that Buddy was leaving, Alastair Clarkson set about changing the Hawks forward structure so Franklin was targeted a lot less, and tonight, the Swans were much more efficient going forward, with McCartin, Reid and Blakey shouldering the load.

With some whispers Sydney should consider trading Buddy, it may be beneficial to the Swans that they cut their losses and build their forward line around the young up and coming key targets.

 

Can the Giants go all the way?

The manner in which GWS ran all over the Swans suggests at least to this reporter that Leon Cameron’s Ferrari could finally break through for its first chequered flag. The inclusion of Shane Mumford is seemingly paying dividends, and although the Giants garage sale took dollars off their bulging books, they still possess more than enough talent to challenge for the ultimate glory in season 2019.

A large portion of their list is in career best form, and from the 22 that took the field tonight, Phil Davis and Brett Deledio are still to return, and Lachie Whitfield at full fitness makes the sound from the west of the town almost deafening.

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Do the Swans need to undertake a full rebuild?

For so many years, Sydney has been able to sustain a level of excellence rarely seen across any sporting code. In previous years, after starting so poorly the Swans have still managed to rise again and play finals but this year seems different. Their midfield has aged dramatically, and when their older brigade is out of the side they suddenly lack the depth to seriously challenge the competitions best sides.

John Longmire has been forced to play more kids than usual, and it seems like the entire game plan needs an update, as their once lauded contested possession dominance is all of a sudden whimpering into submission.

 

Which Swans need to make way?

If Sydney is to rebuild its list, a number of the old guard needs to step aside. It’s been one hell of a career for Jarrad McVeigh, but it appears that he may have gone one season too long, and his voice should now be heard from the coaches box rather than on the field. Heath Grundy is another ageing star that needs to make way for the likes of Lewis Melican and Aliir Aliir.

Conversely, once Nick Smith is available he should slot straight into the back pocket and take on the role of defensive marshal, a la Luke Hodge at the Lions. John Longmire cannot throw all of his experience out, but now that the Swans are staring down the barrel, a list overhaul is needed and soon.

 

Who was best and worst on ground for both teams?

Sydney:

Best – Josh Kennedy

Sydney’s co-captain was outstanding in the midfield with 32 touches and 12 clearances, doing all he could to inspire his teammates. 19 of his possessions were contested, and given the Swans lost that count by 35, Kennedy can hold his head high that his efforts were commendable all night.

Stiff: Luke Parker & Jordan Dawson

With Buddy out, Horse played Parker forward for much of the game, but he still managed 25 touches to go with his team high 2 goals. Co-Captain Parker battled hard against the GWS avalanche, and if we’re being honest, the Giants were so good across the ground that it was difficult to pick a second best player to Kennedy. I also felt it necessary to mention Jordan Dawson, who looks a live wire in the Sydney forward half. 2 goals from 18 disposals in his 10th game, the young Swan could earn himself a rising star nomination with a performance like that.

Worst: Ben Ronke A late inclusion for Lance Franklin, Ronke showed tonight that his game needs further development in the NEAFL. Finished with eight touches in a forward line that was admittedly starved of opportunity, but his decision-making let him and his team down in critical moments. When Buddy makes his return to the side, rank is the most likely to make away but it is important to remember that it is still very early in his career.

Lucky: Callum Sinclair You are never going to have your best night when you are dominated by a player in the twilight of his career and on the way back from 12 months off as Shane Mumford is. Battled manfully, and his work around the ground was good in patches, but if Sydney’s midfield is going to have any chance, Sinclair simply needs to be better than he showed tonight.

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GWS Giants:

Best: Tim Taranto

Simply superb from many GWS stars tonight, but with 30 touches, 12 tackles and a silky smooth goal, Tim Taranto was rightly judged best afield. As noted below, so many of his teammates would’ve also been worthy winners. Now in his 3rd year in the system, Taranto looks ready to push into the upper echelon of midfielders not only at the Giants, but in the whole competition.

Stiff: Many of Taranto’s teammates

While Taranto was a worthy winner of the Brett Kirk medal, at least five of his teammates could’ve walked away with the gold. Stephen Conliglio started the game like a man possessed, Shane Mumford gave his midfielders silver service, Zac Williams was a precision kicking machine off half back, Jacob Hopper was his quiet achieving best, and Toby Greene showed why he is so vital to the Giants forward setup. If not for some inaccurate goal kicking, GWS would’ve recorded a bigger victory in a fantastic team performance, highlighted by the fact that Josh Kelly had 31 disposals, Jeremy Cameron kicked three goals from 21 touches, Nick Haynes and Adam Tomlinson rebounded from defence with 19 and 20 touches respectively, with Haynes taking 12 marks and Tomlinson also spending time in the ruck, and none of those players will be noted in the best players.

Worst: Sam Taylor Hard to judge a “worst on ground” when the entire Giants outfit were so dominant, and Taylor’s six disposals in the backline sees him placed here. Being judged GWS’s worst player tonight is an anomaly, and he shouldn’t be dropped for next week, although Davis coming back may force Taylor out.

Lucky: Matt Buntine The former No. 5 draft pick had a commendable 16 touches as a late replacement for Phil Davis, and like Taylor, wasn’t required to contribute as much in the Giants backline. The reason Buntine was placed here was because of a couple of poor efforts that will be highlighted during the week, but if not for the dominance of his team, he’d be far from the worst.

 

Stray thoughts:

Jon Patton should cut his losses and seek a trade back to a Victorian club. When he was drafted, Patton was seen as the Giants No. 1 key forward for the next 10-15 years. Injuries however have meant GWS has had to develop other targets, and with Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson taking significant strides alongside Jeremy Cameron, it might be time that Patton heads home. He will command a hefty salary, but his shoddy knees should mean clubs won’t have to give up a high draft pick to get him.

It has been talked about all year, but the SCG surface is simply appalling. It was noted on the Fox Footy broadcast that an NRL match was played there on Anzac Day, but this is now getting beyond a joke. The curators can only do so much with what they’re given to work with, and this is an issue that won’t go away anytime soon. All the major sporting codes need to get together to get this sorted before someone gets seriously injured.

In a thought totally unrelated to this game, the AFL came out and said that all the contentious umpiring calls on Anzac Day were correct. Can they not see that saying things like that will only make the backlash against the umpiring department worse? Just admit you got a few decisions wrong. People make mistakes. When you don’t acknowledge it, you look completely ignorant. If an AFL umpire can’t see he’s made an error, he shouldn’t be an AFL umpire. Simple as that

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