Parochialism is great, but only when there is an alternate view you can use to balance things out. There is no way both sets of supporters ever walk away from a game feeling completely satisfied. There is always a winner and a loser… or two teams that played to a draw and no one is happy.

In order to capture the feelings and thoughts of both teams, irrespective of the outcome, Nick Sluggett and Matt Oman went into watching this game as fans with eyes only for one team. The Slugger was all about the Dees, whilst Matt wore the red and white of the Mighty Swans.

Below is the dual review from two Mongrels with very different perspectives on the game. It’s the Dees and Swans. Two Mongrels. Two points of view. One article. And one winner.

 

WHO WAS THE MATCH WINNER?

 

MELBOURNE – Luke Parker.

It could’ve been Ed Langdon. He threatened this game so much and read the ball so well at times. He just let himself down with his goal kicking (definitely wasn’t alone there).

Alas, it was Parker, with his trusty sidekick in Kennedy who got the Swans control in the middle which, is clearly Melbourne’s strength. I mean, we won the hit outs by 19, but lost the clearances by four. We got outmuscled in-close with a midfield that included Petracca, Brayshaw and Viney? I mean Parker and Kennedy are warriors, no doubt, but outside of those two Sydney had kids effectively running through there.

Not only did Parker help wrestle the midfield control, but he got forward and kicked two huge goals. He started the onslaught in the second quarter and then put the game arguably beyond doubt with the first goal in the last quarter, which would require Melbourne to more than double our score to win.

 

SYDNEY – Hard to answer this question, as it was quite the even spread across the board. Parker was terrific, but he did turn it over too much for my liking. Lloyd did what Lloyd does, but his stats are always beefed up by his “play on from a kick in” tactic. Josh Kennedy was fantastic around the stoppages, but honestly, how many times have was said that in his 255 game career?

The more I write this, the more I realise that the players I most enjoyed watching tonight will be featured later on, so for now, consider this section dealt with.

 

WHERE DID WE WIN/LOSE THE GAME?

 

MELBOURNE – How long have you got? Let’s do this in order of play, shall we?

First. You have to take advantage of Big Max. He played hard and was among my best at half time. You need to capitalise on his dominance. Second, you have to bring some intensity. I can think of about four or five times, particularly in the early part of the game where a Demons player was run down by a Swans player, almost unaware of the pressure. On the flip side, the Swans players continually busted through multiple tackles. You have to be better.

How about some quality delivery inside 50? We all know the Swans will get back in numbers, so move the footy fast, and with purpose and make sure you hit the target, or the footy will be bouncing out of there with interest! Finally, you have to kick the goal when you get the chance! You undo all your hard work when you bust your gut against such a stingy defence, just to get a decent look, and you absolutely waste it.

 

SYDNEY –  That second quarter.

Every other quarter seemed to be a scrappy affair, but that second quarter showed me and everyone else wearing red and white, that our future is so bright we’ll need to start shopping at the Sunglass Hut. It was slick, it was smooth, and unlike our opponents, we actually knew what we were doing when kicking the ball inside 50.

All over the ground we just had Melbourne’s number, and we got ourselves into a winning position that we never relinquished. The best bit was that it seemed to be led by our younger brigade, especially McInerney, Clarke, McCartin, and Dawson.

 

IF YOU WERE COACH, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

 

MELBOURNE – Probably tried to have the boys switched on and ready for a fight. Swans have been good in games recently, and we have finals on the line. Yet we turned up like we thought we were going to waltz away with this game when we turned it on, and next thing we knew, we’d blown the first quarter with the wind, and had given up five goals to nothing in the second quarter.

 

SYDNEY – Not a lot if I’m being honest.

I came into this game not expecting to win, and what we produced was nothing short of fantastic. This isn’t so much what I’d do differently in this game, but more what I think we need going into the future. The one glaring absence from our list is a gorilla tall forward. I think Nick Blakey will be a superstar, but he will be more in the mould of Justin Westhoff, rather than Tom Hawkins. We’ve also moved Tommy McCartin into the backline, which has been a stroke of genius from Horse.

We went small today, and often marked uncontested. But when Buddy and Sam Reid have moved on, and Blakey is moving around up the ground, we need a bailout option coming out of the goal square. Is Jake Riccardi available?

I’d also love another ruckman. Callum Sinclair has been great since coming to the Swans, but there are many better options out there. Max Gawn took Sinclair to the cleaners, and Sam Naismith’s injury history has ruled him out as being a viable option

 

MOST UNDERRATED PERFORMANCE

 

MELBOURNE – Ed Langdon.

Yes, the misses were bad, but Langdon was actually pretty good. He controlled the close-side wing in this game. His marking was good, he ran hard and gained plenty of meterage, his roving was absolutely sublime at times (Seriously, it was the sort you sit your kids down and say “now watch what he does here”). He’s probably the only Dees player I’ll consider for votes in this game, but I think it’ll be lost in the costly misses, which you can bet will be all that’s shown for this performance.

I forgave the last turnover Langdon committed, kicking out form full back. By that time the game was over and Langdon had worked himself into the ground (including to pressure Tom Papley into missing the preceding shot).

Also, a nod to Steven May who kept competing and fighting against the Swans onslaught. Even went forward to snag a goal in the last quarter as Goodwin searched for a competitive option.

 

SYDNEY – There are two players in particular that need to be highlighted. The first is the future of the midfield, Ryan Clarke. Clarke is placed here because he is always overlooked in favour of the big guns. But this is man that just keeps playing his role effectively, and too often it just doesn’t get talked about. Clarke began life in this team in a tagging role, but now Horse has freed the shackles and Clarke has rewarded Longmire for the faith shown in him. He had 22 disposals through the middle and half back, took five marks, laid five tackles, rebounded out of defensive 50 three times, and kicked a goal in the last quarter to put the icing on the cake of a fantastic performance.

The other player is seven gamer Justin McInerney. It’s been a pretty good start to McInerney’s career; one that you would describe as solid yet unremarkable. Today was his coming out party. This was a performance full of enthusiasm and should see a rising star nomination come his way.

It was the second quarter that belonged to McInerney, and having never kicked a goal at this level, McInerney slotted two majors in the space of ten minutes to not only squash Melbourne into submission, but also lift his teammates, who all got around McInerney to celebrate what is sure to be the first of many vital six pointers for the Swans.

 

THE MOMENT THAT MATTERED MOST?

 

MELBOURNE – There’s a couple. First you have Papley running down Jack Viney. Which was just an absolute perfect exemplification of this game. Melbourne player with the footy, unsuspectingly mown down by hungry Swans player.

The other has to be the Langdon miss in the last. The game was just still alive, but if Langdon kicks that goal from a slight angle, 15-metres out, Melbourne would’ve kicked the last three goals and be within nine points of the Swans with six minutes left… Game on. Instead, he misses and the footy goes back down the other end for a Swans goal and the game is over.

 

SYDNEY – It’s hard not to say the second quarter, but I’ve already talked about it earlier. So I’ll say that McInerney’s two goals before half were the (elongated) moment that mattered. It took the Swans into half time with all the momentum, and basically broke Melbourne’s back. Not only did the goals give the team a jolt of enthusiasm and vibrancy, they reaffirmed our efficiency once the ball made it inside our forward 50.

 

WHICH PLAYERS LET US DOWN THE MOST?

 

MELBOURNE – Unsurprisingly there are a few names on this list.

Nathan Jones – I’m not about to start potting a veteran like Jones. He stuck by the Demons when lesser players would’ve jumped ship. But in this game, he just wasn’t up to it. He was slow and very inaccurate by foot, even when under little pressure. Probably spared some attention due to his quad injury, but I wonder how much that affected him early in the game, and if it did, why did he play?

Sam Weideman – Can someone let me know what position he was playing? It surely couldn’t have been forward because there were a lot of packs forming in the Melbourne forward line as the ball was getting bombed in there, and Weideman didn’t impact any of them.

Some other players who seriously need to lift their output above this performance are Viney, Brown, Spargo and Melksham.

 

SYDNEY – Ollie Florent. It’s hard to pot anyone from the team that wins, but someone like Florent really should’ve done a lot more in this one.

I checked Florent’s stats this season. He has averaged 17 touches a game, which is down from 19 last year. So to only touch the ball eight times tonight is really disappointing. Everyone points to this being a rebuilding phase, and all the youngsters coming through are starting to hit their stride. But Florent really needs to start imposing himself on this team and indeed the entire competition.

At some point, Kennedy, Parker and co. won’t be around anymore. Florent is 22 years old and charging towards 70 games under his belt. It’s becoming his time now. Take it Ollie. Prove that you’re worth the investment the club put into you.

 

PLAYER FROM THE OPPOSITION I ADMIRED MOST IN THIS GAME?

 

MELBOURNE – Hard to believe this was Justin McInerney’s seventh AFL game. Jeez, he looked good. He was calm and clean with the footy. Just look at his second quarter. He kicked the final two goals of the quarter and set up the previous one for Will Hayward. Hopefully, he can bottle his confidence from this game and take onto some bigger and better things.

 

SYDNEY – It’s hard to go past Max Gawn. Callum Sinclair put up a decent fight, but there was a clear gap in the talent levels of the two big men. More of the hitouts went to Demons, if only they could take advantage of the good work, and around the ground Gawn had Sinclair’s measure too.

As I’ve said before, our ruck stocks are concerning, particularly when Sinclair is now on the wrong side of 30, and watching Gawn dominate just showed me what we don’t have, and it might be worth picking up the best ruckman in the draft with our first pick in the draft.

I also liked Ed Langdon’s game, if not for some poor decisions that I’m sure the Slugger will talk about. From a younger player, hasn’t Trent Rivers got a future! For a 19 year old kid to do some of the things Rivers did today, I think the Demons have found a real star of the future.

 

WRAP UP

 

MELBOURNE – We bottled this one. Cocked it up really good. All credit to the Swans, they had a plan and executed, and we just weren’t prepared to deal with it.

The equation is now simple. Three games left. We need three wins. We play Freo next week; if we somehow get a win, it sets up two huge clashes against the Giants and Bombers, two teams vying for the same place in the eight.

Maybe it’s a good thing? Maybe we were too comfortable with a bit of breathing room? We can only hope that this is the case, as if the boys don’t find the passion to lay it all on the line and come switched on every week, it’s going to be an impossible task.

 

SYDNEY – It’s pretty easy to wrap this one up. It was a game that I never expected to win. On the Mongrel chat, I predicted a Melbourne victory by as many as 40 points. What actually happened was the complete opposite. Yes, there were some moments in there that will be reviewed harshly by Horse and the crew. But that is kind of expected from a young team. On the whole, it was a very pleasing performance against a team that had everything to play for.

Quarters one, three and four were all scrappy, even and tough. But that second quarter was beautiful. I’ve said this already but it really showed how bright the future is in Sydney. If we’re all being honest with ourselves we know that these quarters need to be fleshed out into a whole match performance, and in reality, with the squad we currently, that is a little way off yet.

But that’s ok. We need to be positive. Tom McCartin and Lewis Melican will be star defenders of the future. Ryan Clarke, James Rowbottom and hopefully Ollie Florent will lead the midfield into the next phase of our history. Nick Blakey could be a once in a generation talent. We need to hang onto Tom Papley with everything we’ve got.

On the other side of the coin, we do need to find some more pieces of the puzzle before we can seriously climb the ladder again. We may have to endure a couple more years of pain. But those years will mould this group into a team of champions. The seeds are there and have begun to sprout. We just need time. And a little more patience.

 

HEY MONGREL, WHERE CAN I DOWNLOAD YOUR LATEST PODCAST?

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