The Pies got away to a solid start and it looked as though Jordan de Goey was in for another day out at the SCG.

However, the Swans made adjustments, refined their game style and shifted the momentum back into their favour, turning a three-goal quarter-time deficit into a five-goal win.

Sydney moved to 6-3 and effectively killed off any dreams the Pies had of resurrecting their year. Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

 

THE GOOD

 

A WELCOME RETURN

Geez, Isaac Heeney either knows how to get to the right spot at the right time, or is one of the luckiest buggers in footy.

On a couple of occasions in this game, he just found himself out in the open when a hack kick, or miskick landed right in his arms. He finished the game with 3.2, should have really had four and once again went about his work as a hybrid forward as well, or better than anyone else in the league.

Heeney has the knack for finding the footy even when things don’t seem to be going his way, and his ability to bob up and make things happen kept the Pies defence guessing all day long.

With 22 touches for the game, Heeney did as he pleased and was rarely troubled when he was able to work his way to the front in contests. Supremely balanced and with beautifully clean hands, injury is the only thing that has been able to prevent him from being one of the top players in the game to this point in his career.

He almost snagged one of the goals of the year, as well, when he just ripped the footy away from Brayden Maynard and threw it at his boot as he was dragged to the ground, conjuring memories of the goal tom McCartin kicked to pinch the game from the Pies a couple of years back. Alas, it just missed, but it gives a great indication as to how Heeney can make something out of nothing, and make teams pay for even the slightest error.

 

TOM HICKEY IS NOW AN ELITE RUCK… SOMEHOW

What has happened here? Does anyone actually know?

I watched him at St Kilda and thought he was a pretty good clearance player. Then at West Coast, he got stuck behind Nic Nat, and now at Sydney… what the hell is going on?

He more than matched it with Brodie Grundy in this game, having small patches where he looked like the best player on the park, taking intercept grabs, pulling the footy cleanly from the ruck, and nailing tackles (the one on Sidebottom was close to holding the footy, but he did release his grip, so I can see why the umpire didn’t pay it).

Grundy was no slouch, but Hickey took the points in this one. He had a game-high eight clearances (Grundy had six) and also matched his nemesis in terms of second efforts.

There would be quite a few second string rucks looking at what Hickey has produced this season and feel buoyed by the fact he has been able to turn things around so abruptly. Max Gawn is your number one man in terms of AA selection right now, but the name of Tom Hickey simply has to be in the mix if you’re looking at impact on a team in 2021.

 

CHECKED BY MCCARTIN

We often hear people talk up Brody Mihocek and how workmanlike he is when it comes to his footy. I hear him called a “good, honest footballer” and I reckon it’s a good description. You know what you’re gonna get from him and have to be prepared to match him both in the air and when the ball hits the deck.

Tom McCartin did more than that in this game, completely nullifying Mihocek’s influence to the point where he became a non-factor.

McCartin used a combination of good body positioning, blocks and spoils to ensure Mihocek played the role of spectator as the Pies tried to stay with the Swans. Whatever he tried, McCartin was onto him. Whenever he zigged, he found McCartin had already zagged to counter him.

In the wash up, people may look at McCartin’s stats and think he did okay, but what you need to do is line them up against Mihocek to truly appreciate what an excellent defensive effort he conjured in this one. He had six spoils and six intercepts as he put the clamps on Mihocek, who returned six disposals in total and zero goals.

A big win for the young defensive convert.

 

AN UNEXPECTED OCCURRENCE

When you look at the Swans, you think Buddy, Kennedy, Papley, Rampe… McLean.

No, you don’t think much about Hayden McLean, but maybe it is time we start factoring him into preparations? With eight contested marks over the past two weeks, he is really putting his hand up for a permanent place in this Sydney forward line.

If Mihocek is a good, honest player, then at 22, McLean is that with the ability to be so much more.

On a day where players were having a lot of trouble reading the flight of the footy, McLean had no such trouble with the floating footy, clunk five contested grabs to provide a big target for the Swans mids as they streamed forward. He is a bit of an ox when the footy hits the deck, but that’s not where his strength lies, and there is plenty of strength to discuss.

McLean was able to out-body the Collingwood defence on several occasions, the best of which resulted in a goal line grab and conversion to make the Pies drop their heads.

What is his ceiling?

Behind Buddy and Sam Reid, McLean may be the marking option the Swans need until Logan McDonald is ready to assume the throne inside 50. I’ll tell ya what… he’s not a bad interim option, and may prove to be significantly more if the Swans keep attacking in this manner.

 

THE OLD FIRM

Know what one of my favourite things in footy is?

Seeing a big-bodied mid stand in a tackle or ride some heavy contact, keep his feet and get his team moving in the right direction.

And that’s what Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy did for the Swans in this one. Whilst the new era of the Swans midfield is coming through the ranks at a rapid pace, JPK is still able to provide the veteran composure under pressure as he knows what his body is capable of. He invites the tackle to come at him because he knows that is one less opposition player his teammates have to worry about when he makes the hand off to them.

Parker has had an excellent season – not dominant, but a fantastic leader in the midfield bridging the gap between the old guard and the new breed. In light of that position, he is probably the most important player in the guts for Sydney at the moment. His disposals hurt, he tackles hard and does the little things that make those around him better.

Between them, Kennedy and Parker had 22 contested touches and 11 intercepts as they patrolled the midfield like two wise, old owls looking to pick off the panicked responses of the Collingwood defences.

 

BUDDY V MAYNARD

He’s had some tough assignments over the journey, and with Darcy Moore spared the job on Lance Franklin, it was the undersized Brayden Maynard that was given the role.

Moore took Franklin when he was able to manufacture the role of deepest defender, but Longmire countered that move by having Franklin start at half forward, and Maynard drew the short straw.

It was an enthralling duel as they spent about 75% of the game on each other, with Maynard’s speed and recovery troubling Franklin, and Buddy’s height and sneakiness (I rate sneakiness highly!) to get out the back and run toward goal catching the Pies out on a couple of occasions.

Buddy kicked a couple and should have had three if he had a right foot that worked, whilst Maynard collected a game-high 29 touches, eight intercepts and ten rebounds to be the most prolific defender on the park.

In light of that, Maynard did a fantastic job on Buddy, but in truth, probably caught him at the best possible time as Franklin works back from injury.

 

THE PAPLEY RUN

He is a combative little bugger, isn’t he?

As a neutral fan, watching Papley’s gather, run, give and continued flat-out charge inside 50 had me barracking for him to get the footy back.

Hayden McLean did the right thing, popped the ball over the top to the still-charging Papley, who marked, composed himself and slotted a goal.

I know a lot of people gravitate to the unlikely or spectacular goals as the goal of the week, but this one deserves consideration. Papley simply outworked all players around him and several that were in front of him. In a game that was in the balance, Papley wanted the footy more than anyone else and after giving up the footy to his teammate, McLean honoured his gut-busting work by giving it back.

It was huge work rate from Papley, and one of the better gut runs of the season thus far. He showed up quite a few other players with his relentless attack in this one passage of play, and if you’re looking for a piece of footage to demonstrate to kids the benefit of hard work, and how teammates should always reward it, the run of Papley and the reward from McLean would be it from this game.

 

THE BAD

 

NOT READY YET

I know Bucks has relented and is “playing the kids”, but what happens when the kids aren’t quite ready?

It means the rest of the team – a team that has already struggled in 2021 – has to do the additional heavy lifting to cover those not yet ready for senior footy. They will be – don’t get me wrong, but as it stands, both Ollie Henry and first gamer, Tom Wilson looked out of their depth.

I guess the only way to teach them to swim is to throw them into the deep end, but even the best teams struggle to carry kids who aren’t ready – Collingwood are not one of those teams.

I found it interesting that the Swans, who have been in the news all season due to their young stars, had none of their 2020 Draft Picks in the game, whilst the Pies had three. Beau McCreery looked good – he has a hunger and the strength to match it at the level, and Caleb Poulter was given a role on the outside which is far more suited to a young player. His work on the wing was okay, but that’s about all you can expect at this stage. Ollie Henry was exposed – fumbly and unable to impact the contest, both he and Tom Wilson looked all at sea and would be better served at VFL level for a while longer.

 

NO CHASE

I don’t know if you have the capacity to do this, but should you watch a replay of the game, pay attention to the efforts of Jon Noble at half forward in the last quarter. At this stage, he was matched up on Justin McInerney on the wing. The scores were still tight and the Pies had been peppering the goals to no avail.

The Swans gathered at half back and from a stationary start, McInerney put 20 metres on Noble in one burst of power running. Noble simply did not, or could not go with him. McInerney marked, went long to Papley inside 50 who centered the footy to the wide-open Isaac Heeney for his third goal.

The Heeney goal re-established the three-goal buffer the Swans had before Hoskin-Elliott tightened things up to commence the fourth and sent Sydney on their way to the win.

So, what would one last gut run from Noble have meant to this game? Could it have slowed McInerney down to the point where Papley didn’t get out the back? Could we have seen the Swans held up and the Pies’ assault on goal continue? Could it have changed the trajectory of the game?

Look, the last one is a long shot, I know. However, all actions have reactions and who knows what could have occurred had Noble put the effort in? Maybe he causes a turnover – McInerney’s kicking early in the game wasn’t exactly his strong suit. That little bit of pressure may have been significant…

… or maybe it wouldn’t have been.

Alas, we’ll never know, because the Swans took the footy end-to-end, Heeney goaled and the Swans went on their merry way.

In many games, it is the big moments that we remember, but there are times when the little things matter just as much. Slowing up that piece of play allows the defence to consolidate its position. It allows the mids to run back and aid the back six, and it allows the Pies to get some sort of structure behind the footy. The Pies got none of that, as the ball travelled quickly, Papley got out the back and Heeney finished it off in a chaotic, transitional defence. This was a little thing amongst many little things that mattered.

 

THE UGLY

 

PLAN B?

A friend of mine asked me just a week or two ago whether I thought Nathan Buckley was a good match-day coach.

It gave me pause, and I started to wonder about his moves, or lack thereof in recent weeks. Was he a good X and O player when it came time to reshuffle the magnets to manufacture an advantage or a mismatch on the field?

The answer came in this game, in a number of instances.

The ability of John Longmire to make changes not only in regard to the positions of his troops, but the tweaks to the game style, left Buckley floundering. Jordan de Goey looked fantastic in the first quarter matched up on Dane Rampe, but in using Rampe to attempt to stop Dusty-lite, the Swans were giving up one of their best defensive weapons, so Longmore rang the changes and from the second quarter we saw Rampe often isolated on players like Beau McReery instead.

And it stayed that way until the last quarter when Bucks decided to throw his star (note – not superstar) into the middle to get his hands on the footy. I’ll just put on my Captain Hindsight outfit here… hang on – it’s a little tighter than it used to be. There we go – maybe Bucks should have thought about getting de Goey into the play in the second, as the Swans defence started collapsing on him? A move to half forward would have given him room to move, and with de Goey’s explosiveness, we could have seen a more favourable outcome for the Pies.

Chris Mayne into a key defensive post?

Will Hoskin-Elliott moved from the wing where he had 17 first half touches?

Josh Thomas in defence…

I suppose you have to give him credit for being adventurous, huh?

Things clicked for Bucks in the first quarter. The team was playing good footy and looked settled in their structures, but as the game progressed, we saw a Homer Simpson-esque coaching performance from Buckley. “You, fall down. You, spin around in circles…”

It looked to upset an apple cart that was looking pretty juicy at one stage.

So, is he a good game day coach? Or did he just have a bad day? All I know is that John Longmire is better, and the Swans coach may have made Bucks’ day a lot worse than it could have been by being one step ahead of his counterpart once things started to settle and Longmire worked out what he wanted and didn’t want. The difference between the two was that Longmire worked out how to manufacture what he wanted. Bucks didn’t seem to know how to counter him.

 

SOME QUESTIONS

 

IS THE MOVE OF JOSH DAICOS BACK TO THE WING A GOOD ONE?

I think it will be, even if it was hit and miss in this one.

Daicos was a little lazy with his delivery, opting to throw the footy on his boot without looking a little too often for my liking. He did get it 28 times, so finding it wasn’t the issue, however, I would prefer he finds the form of 2020 pretty quickly back in the role, as he may find himself wasting away at half forward if he cannot.

 

WHO WON THE HEWETT V PENDLES BATTLE?

On paper, they ended up about equal, but I ask – did Pendles create and hurt with his touches in this one?

The answer is no, and therefore the answer is Hewett.

Pendles went at just 56% efficiency with his disposals, and that is a clear indication that the continued pressure of Hewett around the contests, and the distinct lack of protection from his team, impacted the quality of his disposals. Unlike most taggers, Hewett was able to hurt on the counter-attack as well. His 20 touches were at 80% efficiency for the game.

Nice game for George.

 

CAN THE PIES CONTINUE TO PLAY BOTH BROWN BROTHERS?

I’ve thought this was an error for a while.

At 23, Callum Brown is at the crossroads. What kind of player is he going to be – the first half kind of Will Hoskin-Elliott, or the second half Will Hoskin-Elliott?

I like his pressure, but he doesn’t do enough.

Do the Pies put their eggs in the Tyler Brown basket? He didn’t do a hell of a lot wrong in this one, but played a link role through the middle, and there is no shortage of players that can do that.

 

DO THE SWANS PLAY FINALS?

They’re half way there already. They don’t need a late season charge – they just need to win the games they’re supposed to win from now on.

I think they may be borderline finalists at this stage, and that is no disrespect to them at all. The reintroduction of Heeney into the mix has changed the dynamic, and the injection of kids, even though we saw just a couple in this game, has created competition for spots. If they keep the key players healthy and find form at the right time of the year… wow, they could really surprise some.

I’ll put this out there – if they beat Freo next week, start cancelling whatever plans you had for September.

 

 

OTHER BITS

 

The cue goes in the rack for the Pies now, with a game next week against Port Adelaide looking a little… scary. It’s at the MCG, and I get the feeling Port will be pretty eager to make a statement on the ground they plan to be back at later in the season.

The Swans get a bit of a test, with a long road trip to Freo. The Dockers are a different team at Optus Stadium, but if Sydney get out and running, they could cause some carnage.

Chad Warner would have firmed again in Rising Star betting this week. He just knows how to play.

Justin McInerney caught my eye last year, but his tank looks to have improved again this year. He burnt off opponents all game. His kicking needs a little work, but the run and carry is great!

Finally, I cannot go through a review without paying some respect to Jake Lloyd. Do you know why? Because no one else does! He goes out every week as the safe option defender, and guess what he does? He collects the footy and makes sure it goes to a teammate to control the footy close to every single time. Another 28 touches at 89% in this game – if he flies any lower under the radar he’d be a submarine.

 

And that’ll do me. Not the most aesthetically pleasing game but the wind did appear to play havoc with the footy in the air. Solid win by the Swans after a fast start by the Pies, and credit the coach for doing a much better job than the bloke in the other box.

Daed si skcuB

 

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