Usually, when I write a review, I have about a page of notes I’ve taken to work from.

As I sat and commenced this one, there seemed to be a similar thread with all that related to Sydney and all that related to St Kilda. For the Swans, I found the words “structure”  and “support” were used often to highlight the way they set up behind the footy, allowing the big defenders a free run at the incoming footy, and the smaller ones the ability to spread and receive.

In regard to the Saints, the words used several times were “lazy” and “poor”.

Do we put this down to one of those nights for St Kilda? Or were they just completely blanketed by a well-drilled Swans outfit? What caused such a weak capitulation and a string of efforts so dismal that their forwards looked absolutely disgusted with the rest of the team?

Sydney may have won by 51 points, but it felt like so much more. They owned the footy, owned the corridor, and would likely now own space in the heads of the Saints, who set all types of records for… well, for being shit.

Here’s The Mongrel’s Loves and Hates.

 

LOVE – THE BROTHERS OF DESTRUCTION

Any 90s WWE fans here?

If so, you might like that title. Paddy and Tom McCartin made the most of a St Kilda unit that seemed determined to kick the ball long, high, and not-at-all handsome inside 50 as often as possible in this game. The Saints just made it easy for this brotherly duo to completely destroy everything in their path as they raced to a combined total of 17 intercepts and 11 one-percenters.

I’ll just do some quick maths, because… you know, it’s my fortè and all… that is 28 times these two monsters either controlled the ball coming into their area, or killed the contest.

I know this has been spoken about on commentary, but the recruitment of Paddy McCartin was a huge risk by the Swans. As much as teams tuck young players away while they develop, Paddy looked to be cooked, and picking him up may have prevented Sydney from warehousing a young player while they worked with him to get better.

But man, this risk has paid dividends in a big way, and there could be more to come.

Paddy looks to be absolutely at home in Sydney in a way he never was at St Kilda. It was fitting that he came back to haunt them, nullifying those in the very position he occupied for St Kilda all those years ago. With Brother Tom making life very difficult for Max King (and a heap of credit also has to go to Dane Rampe, here… maybe I’ll talk about him later), the Swans back six obliterated whatever St Kilda trotted out as a forward line structure, owning the air, owning the contest, and owning the ground ball.

I hate to tell ya… that doesn’t leave much else for St Kilda to own.

 

HATE – THE BLAME GAME

This may be unpopular, but I am guessing everything I write about St Kilda is going to be unpopular. How can you possibly be positive after… that?

So, who do the Saints blame this week? Last week, Jack Higgins copped the ire of the coach and selectors, as he was omitted from this team… and wow wee, didn’t the offence just hum without him!

Everyone loves to have a fall guy to blame things on, and it appears that St Kilda are no different. They were no good against the Bombers and lost a game they should have won. Now, they have been belted around the ring (in Pride game… tee hee) and you have a number of people that can cop the blame.

Are we just going to single out one bloke again, as though the downfall of the club on this particular day was all one person’s fault?

If dropping Higgins was supposed to be a statement, it was one of the most pissweak statements I have seen from a club. You have senior blokes out there hardly chasing, standing there with hands on hips as soon as the ball hits the deck, and you choose to punish one bloke that throws himself into the contest and has had concussion this year after having bloody brain surgery 18 months ago?

How about we look at the inability of the coach to try something else other than throwing Tim Membrey behind the footy – a move that every man and his dog knows is coming at some stage? How about we look at doing something other than sitting in the coaches’ box looking bewildered? That seemed to be the one wood for Brett Ratten as he watched what was going on out there.

There are a heap of players that should be taking responsibility following this performance  Zak Jones, Max King, Dan Butler, and yes, even Tim Membrey, who seems to be content motoring around between half and three-quarter pace, whilst recording ZERO tackles.

So, who gets the chop this week? Is there anyone else that can take the hit? Or will the coach and selectors somehow find a way to blame Jack Higgins again?

Bloody pathetic.

Here’s a picture of the respective heat maps from the game. If St Kilda’s is not a visual representation of football insanity, doing the same thing over and over, I don’t know what is

I said above they didn’t own anything – I was wrong. They owned one half-back flank.

 

LOVE – GIMME A HICKEY

I am a Tom Hickey fan and love what he brings to this Sydney team. I know, I know… Rowan Marshall was good in this one and maybe St Kilda’s best for the evening, but there are aspects to Hickey’s game that I have really grown to appreciate.

He just does not tolerate these weak-ass part-time rucks getting in his way. They try to body up to him and he gives them the shove out of the way they deserve, using their momentum against them, before clearing the footy, himself.

You want to play Cooper Sharman in the ruck against him whilst Marshall rests? No probs… cop that Coops, says Tom as he bundles Sharman out of the contest and takes clean possession.

Tom Hickey treats non-rucks like the inferior physical specimens that they are, and whilst he was outbodied by Marshall a few times, their duel was quite enthralling, as they played pretty wide of each other following ruck contests.

Though Marshall had slightly more of the footy, he did seem to rack up numbers in the junktime that masqueraded as the entire last quarter. Great for stat heads or those who assess games via their supercoach scores, but if you watched for impact on the game, Hickey was far and away more valuable than Marshall, who still hasn’t worked out that he is going to need to become a hell of a lot better to hold down a permanent number one ruck role. Paddy Ryder ain’t gonna be around forever.

 

HATE – NO SUPPORT

So, we all would have noticed Ryan Clarke getting a chance to play a role in the team this week, and not just any role, but one of significance, right?

He was given the job of cutting the run of Jack Sinclair out of the game, and despite Sinclair amassing 17 touches, Clarke did exactly that, often taking away the space Sinclair wanted to get to, as well as hitting the scoreboard early to make him accountable.

But the thing I hated was watching none of the St Kilda defenders laying blocks and working to get Sinclair open. Not that he needs to rely on his teammates to do that all the time – he is not Brad Hill, after all – but some body pressure from bloody someone may have been appreciated on a couple of occasions.

Sinclair has torn teams to bits this season. With Hill in the stands, it was always going to increase the reliance on Sinclair to move the footy. And John Longmire put a stop to that immediately. It will likely be undersold due to Sinclair finishing with decent numbers, but the damage was done early, and it changed the way the St Kilda back six had to operate.

For what it’s worth, Sinclair battled hard – he did not drop his head at any stage, and I am unsure that all his teammates could say the same thing about their efforts, but if you have a preferred D50 kicker, and you can lay a block on his opponent to gain him some breathing room, for God’s sake, Saints… do it!

 

LOVE – ANSWERING THE HATERS

I’ve sung the praises of Jake Lloyd several times this season. Sure, he may be a little prone to follow up a blindingly good game with one that is a little more ordinary, but when he does have a blinder, you can tell pretty early that it is in the works.

Lloyd combined with Ollie Florent three times early in the first quarter to run the Swans out of trouble, and they did it without too much pressure applied on them at all. It was a bad sign for the Saints and it only got worse as Lloyd did as he pleased with little to no defensive pressure on him for the duration of the game.

The other bloke who answered in a big way was Dane Rampe.

Rampe has not been great this season. Let’s be honest, there have been times when he has looked way below the levels we’ve come to expect from him, but in this one, he seemed composed, he competed well, and he steered clear of those boneheaded types of plays that have cost the Swans in games this season. A couple of his early spoils on Max King were also very important in setting the tone of the back six.

 

HATE – NO SECOND EFFORTS

Max King… I know you were frustrated with the delivery coming into you, but there were stages when after flying for a mark and not clunking it, where you seemed to think your part of the job was done.

It wasn’t. It never is.

Have you ever worked with someone who would do the “that’s not in my job description” crap when there was genuine work to be done? I managed this one person who thought they were employed to be a specialist – in reality, they were employed just the same as everyone else on my team, but this person made a point of telling me they were a specialist… and I had to tell them they weren’t, in no uncertain terms.

Max King is great at taking big marks, but when the ball hits the deck, he still has to put in and contest. Standing off to the side and acting as though making a second effort is not part of his job description… well, I heard him compared to Wayne Carey and Nick Riewoldt the other week – I reckon they may have had a crack at the ball on the deck.

If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for him, too. The highlight stuff is great, but even the best have to get their hands dirty now and again.

 

LOVE – FREE OLLIE FLORENT

When Ollie Florent plays well, the Swans hum.

It’s that simple.

This season, Florent has made the move from the wing to half-back. There, he has had to adapt to playing a defensive role some weeks, and slotting in as the rebounder when he can. His foot skills are sublime – both he and Errol Gulden can make the footy talk, so the more Florent gets the footy, the better off the Swans are.

And he got plenty of it in this one.

With the defence doing their job, Florent started to take the game on, slicing the Saints up through the middle to record a season-high 27 touches to go with 12 marks. He wasn’t overdoing it at all, and didn’t try to take the game on all by himself, but he continually made good decisions with the footy, and had only three turnovers for the game.

This is the Ollie Florent the Swans need to break games open, and never has the damage he can inflict been more evident than in this one. The Swans are 4-1 when Florent has 20+ disposals this season. When he has under 20, they’re 5-4.

Don’t tell me it’s not a thing.

 

HATE – FINALS PRETENDERS

This was a make-or-break game for the Saints. Sitting in a precarious position with Collingwood and the Gold Coast Suns yet to play, this was the type of game that you had circled in your calendar… or highlighted on your phone, or whatever people do now.

Yet after the first 15 minutes, the intensity in the Saints fell away and there was a sense of acceptance that they were going to tank this game. Even with the team only 16-points adrift at halftime, there was a distinct feeling that the Saints were being outplayed and deserved to be down by more.

And then, they were.

There was no lift. There was no inspiration. There was no heart or soul.

There was just weak St Kilda football, and their supporters must be sick to death of seeing it.

 

LOVE – THE BLAKEY RUN

There may have been a little bit of stat-padding in the last quarter, with Blakey darting all over the place, but you have to admit, when he tucks that footy under his arm and takes off, it is bloody exciting!

He made the play of the day, getting and going from half-back at full speed, before crashing through a Wanganeen-Milera tackle (hit the weight room, kid) and hitting Franklin on the chest.

Buddy kind of blew it for him with the missed shot at goal, but when you look at the way Blakey was darting through the middle and add it to the scintillating run earlier in the game from Ollie Florent to kick a goal… some of these Swans have wheels, don’t they?

 

HATE – HYPOCRISY

It was so nice to see all the colours around the SCG for Pride Round and all that stuff – QBE changed their logo. As did Volkswagen, and Origin Energy jumped on board to spend a heap of money on a Pride Logo whilst jacking up their prices and sticking it to people in the process… happy days.

Know who didn’t change their logo?

Qatar Airways.

I wonder why…

Maybe it is because being homosexual in Qatar ends in arrest because… IT’S THE LAW.

But hey, you know… continue taking money off them and advertising them, because their money is all that moneys.

Seriously, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but if you’re going to be all for something and host a game to support it, make sure you’re not in bed with state-owned airline that supports the exact opposite of the very thing you’re promoting.

It’s disingenuous.

But I guess if it is good enough for the World Cup of Soccer, it’s good enough for the Swans, right?

 

 

LOVE – BUDDY’S START

Last week, Lance Franklin moved around like a 35-year-old man. I know that, because I was once 35.

Ahhh, those were the days.

In this game, he started like a man on a mission, looking to set up his teammates and create havoc with the type of long leading we saw from him in his prime.

Bud quickly drifted out of the game. Like Joe Ganino on a third date, he went really hard early and it was all over pretty quickly, but he set the tone with seven touches, six contested possessions, two tackles, and a goal when the game was at its hottest.

Then, as it became apparent the Swans were going to win this one, Buddy went into maintenance mode. As he has every right to do.

 

AND ONE MORE HATE – 50 METRES FOR NOTHING

You know the one I am talking about. Hickey stands on the mark, Golden runs way clear of the protected zone, the whistle blows and Tim Membrey is gifted his only goal of the game and the Saints’ second goal on a terrible, guesswork decision by the umpire.

Come to think of it, two of St Kilda’s four goals were due to shocking umpiring decisions – one late in the game came as a result of an obvious throw out of congestion, which allowed Marcus Windhager an easy snap.

How do we know it was obvious? If you get a look at it again, watch every Swans player in the vicinity turn to the umpire with their arms out before the goal is kicked. They all knew – everyone knew…

… except the one person who mattered.

 

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