Sydney v Geelong – Mongrel Talking Points

There is a scenario out there with this game was someone’s first game of AFL Football. Maybe they were dragged along to the game by a mate, or a boyfriend, or a girlfriend. Maybe they won tickets or lost a bet. Maybe they had to attend as part of a work function.

Who knows?

I bet they won’t be going back to the footy anytime soon.

Hell, I bet Scary Spice won’t wannabe getting back to the SCG to see the Swans again anytime soon. I wonder which of the kids she was with was Eddie Murphy’s? He has ten kids… did you know that? Geez, Eddie… I thought I was bad!

Anyway, I’ve heard the question asked many times – can a close, exciting finish make a game seem better than it was?

When thinking about this game, no… no, it can’t. I don’t think it was salvageable.

This game promised plenty and delivered… well, it didn’t deliver much except the close finish.

It should have showcased the two Grand Finalists from 2022 locking horns for the second time of the year. In the previous encounter, the Cats pulled the Swans’ pants down and spanked them. It was a 93-point shellacking and with Sydney looking like they needed everything to go right to play finals in 2023, turning around a 15-goal difference looked like a big ask.

Yet, they were up for the fight.

Usually, I would have this review behind a paywall, as I own the site and the Friday Night games (as well as three others each week) are members-only affairs, but I cannot, in good conscience, ask anyone to pay for a review of a game I would not view again if you paid me.

People, this was a horrid game of footy. To call it ugly would be an insult to ugly people. We’re talking grotesque football, compounded by some complete ineptitude in front of goals by the Swans, who really should have put this game to bed by halftime.

So, why don’t we jump in with our review, where I won’t blow smoke up your arse and pretend this was a nailbiter, even though the last five minutes did have some pretty high stakes.



If there is one bloke who really didn’t deserve the ire of anyone in this game, it would be John Longmire. Tasked with the enormous job of taking his team that were whacked by over 15 goals by the Cats earlier this year, he somehow had to make them believe in themselves enough that they could overcome the mob that has an average winning margin of 87 points over their last two contests.

Sydney came out with a fantastic intent. Their attack on the footy, clean hands, and willingness to take the game on through the guts was a throwback to a period last year when they looked irresistible. That style of play took them to the Grand Final.

Unfortunately, they also found the area around the goals, the boundary line, and the goalposts to be irresistible, as well, as they hit every part of the goals and surrounding areas apart from the opening in the middle.

Seriously, it reminded me of my teenage escapades with my first girlfriend.

And the second, if we’re being honest. I was learning.

But none of that is John Longmire’s fault! Not the Swans’ poor kicking at goal, nor my own lack of direction as an overexcited teen.

It was Longmire’s job to get this team up and about. It was his role to make them believe. And it was his responsibility to formulate a gameplan that gave them every chance to win.

He did that – the Swans were dominant for long stretches of the game. He worked a plan out to perfection and had his team well-drilled. They went out there, broke the Cats down and should have put them away before the main break. But he can’t kick goals for them…

… although I do remember him kicking 2.8 in the final game of the 1990 season when he needed just four to kick 100 for the year.

Maybe that’s where they get it from?



He showed up to play, and was easily the Cats’ best player through the first half of the game.

The thing that got me was the way he realised who he was playing on and immediately reverted to the defensive wing role to counter the all-out attack of Errol Gulden.

Gulden is a key component to the Swans’ midfield, and since his permanent switch to the wing (he moved between midfield and the wing a heap more earlier in the season), he has had some dominant performances. Tuohy, remaining goal side of him at all times, picked up a heap of the footy across half-back, as he notched eight rebound fifty disposals and gained over 700 metres.

It was a great way for him to overtake Jim Stynes as the games record-holder for Irish players, but I am sure the Cats would have liked to give him the type of performance befitting his station at the club. Tuohy has become part of the furniture at Geelong, and for the first 60-70 minutes of football, most of his team hardly showed up.

Luckily, though, Zach Tuohy did. He always does.



No, not at all.

Errol Gulden had some great moments in this game, but he and Tuohy play the wing role very differently. Tuohy is very accountable, whereas I get the feeling that Errol has more of a licence to run where he wants without paying too much attention to covering his man.

In essence, he plays the offensive wingman role, and Tuohy was playing the defensive wing role, so they gave each other a wide berth. As a result, you get the two blokes with 25+ disposals apiece.

Gulden picked up 698 metres gained and was once again a driving force for the Swans. He added nine tackles on an evening where tackling seemed to be the preferred avenue to collect effective stats…because it sure as hell wasn’t with effective disposals.

Gulden ran at just 42% efficiency for the night. Not quite Tim Taranto levels of poor disposals we saw on Thursday, but not too far away, either.



Another tip of the hat to Longmire here, as he started McInerney forward and had him looking dangerous whilst occupying Tom Stewart.

The Swan was prolific in the first quarter, with ten disposals, often finding himself responsible for the last kick inside 50. He did that four times in the opening quarter, resulting in four shots at goal for his teammates (which they all cocked up).

Given this, Stewart found himself having to tighten up on McInerney, and that resulted in just two more inside 50 deliveries for the game, whilst Stewart continued to build as the game progressed. As McInerney faded, Stewart looked stronger – it was also as though their direct matchup was reflective of the game as a whole.

McInerney finished with 22 touches and seven score involvements, whilst Stewart had 25 touches and 12 rebound fifties (several of which came from kick-ins, so factor that in).



If highlights were few and far between, perhaps Angus Sheldrick was the biggest one for the Swans all evening.

Already with a Rising Star nod, Sheldrick, who our own JB Eddy believes would be a great name for a Pokemon, attacked the contest hard en route to collecting 21 touches and six tackles. He is a solid-looking young man, and is unafraid to put his body on the line in a contest.

In games like this, where nothing seems to be going right for anyone, you can often find a diamond in the rough. Sheldrick is no big surprise to Swans fans – they have been pretty pleased with him this year – but his efforts in this game would have opened a few new sets of eyes as to the impact he can have on a game.



Sure, he spells Meyers incorrectly, but there can be no doubting that he has as much poise and composure… which are kind of the same thing, as any player in the game at the moment.

When Gryan Miers has the footy anywhere from 70 metres out from goal, Tom Hawkins licks his lips and starts going into his moves. Miers has that strange “always across the body” kicking style, but damn it, it is working for him! And it is working for his leading forwards, as well.

On a night where goals were at a premium, he had direct assists on three of them. That’s 23% of the total goals for the game, by the way. And 43% of the Cats’ goals.

This week’s Rolling All-Australian team at The Mongrel, had Gryan Miers sitting on the bench. He did his chances of holding that spot next week no harm, as he added 27 disposals and a goal to those three assists for the night. I am not sure where the Cats would have been without him.



Eight goals.

That seems about right. They were spraying shots everywhere like when your drunk friend uses your toilet and you wonder how they could hit every part of the seat, floor, and wall without getting any in the bowl at all?

Isaac Heeney started the rot, really, with back-to-back misses on feeds from Justin McInerney, and from there, the Swans could not hit the ocean from the beach. And it wasn’t just narrow misses – these were wide misses, giving the footy no chance at sailing through the goals.

Papley, Gulden, McDonald, Amartey… all were guilty of wayward shots at goal in the first quarter that would have all but sealed the fate of the Cats, but with every miss, you got the feeling that the Swans were going to pay for their inaccuracy at some stage.

They did, in the form of two premiership points.

I wonder whether those points will be the ones that lift them above a team to make the eight, or whether the two points they missed out on will be the ones that leave them sitting in ninth, or tenth?



For all the shots the Swans were missing, they would have had a heap more opportunities if not for Sam De Koning and Jack Henry, who combined for 20 intercepts in this one.

The Cats have struggled to keep a full contingent of defenders on the park this season, with Henry thrown forward and SDK forced to wear a cool Eyes Wide Shut mask due to his adulation of Tom Cruise.

That really was a terrible movie – only fitting it is referenced in this game review.

With Esava Ratugolea looking all at sea in this one, and then being subbed out of the game in the footy equivalent of the mercy rule, the two young defenders lifted and made the Cats look a lot better coming out of defensive 50.

You reckon TDK will join his brother at Geelong next season? He remains out of contract at Carlton. I reckon he is as good as gone.



I’ve been watching the development of Braeden Campbell for a while now, and though he had moments off half-back, his move to the wing allows for him to be a much more potent weapon with the ball in his hands.

Drifting forward, Campbell was one of the few Swans that managed to convert his chances, finishing the game with two goals to his name. It could have been a real statement game for him had he kicked straighter, as he did miss a couple of gettable shots, but in a game where just about every teammate he has couldn’t get near the goals, we’ll forgive him for missing a couple, as he was one of just two Swans to slot multiple goals.



I’ve mentioned this a few times this year, and whilst Sdney’s inaccuracy certainly aided Geelong, the Cats just seem to have a way to be able to stay in touch with teams, even when they’re playing poor footy.

God teams do it – they’re never completely out of it, always just hanging around at a distance that is large enough to instil confidence, but close enough to strike. I reckon Geelong have become the masters of this over the last couple of seasons. In general play, they were soundly beaten, but even when the Swans were up and abut, the scoreboard never reflected the way the game was playing out.

It would be easy to blame the inaccuracy and leave it at that, but it seems to happen to the Cats a little too often to be a coincidence. It’s almost as though they know their chance will come at some point and they almost managed to pinch this one, despite having no right to do so.



Not sure if I loved or hated Nick Blakey’s game. I mean, I love his attack on the footy – he creates via chaos, but I hate how he folds like an accordion when there is physical contact, and he kind of runs into it quite a bit.

Speaking of which, that tackle from Tom Stewart in the last quarter… absolutely beautiful.

Whilst on tackles, that of Brad Close on Aaron Francis… I can’t believe this is a talking point. It was a rundown tackle with the big man trying to keep his feet – what the hell else is Close supposed to do if the umpire is not blowing his whistle to call for a bounce?

I really hope that doesn’t get looked at, but you kind of know it will…

Isaac Heeney’s stats tell me he finished with 0.2 for the day. That’d be from five shots at goal, wouldn’t it? I mentioned not being able to hit the ocean from the beach, above. It sums up Heeney’s night perfectly.

And what about poor old Robbie Fox? A sure goal – a Lou Richards “put down your glasses” kind of goal to win the game, and he hit the post from 15 metres out.

Get him back to defence! Maybe move the whole team there, the way they went in this one. Take Tom Hickey with you!

So, based on what you saw in this one, which of these teams would you fear more if they turned up in a final against you?

The Swans would have been the toast of the town had they kicked straight, and we would have been speaking about how “they’re back” and so on. They’ve put together a style of play that could cause some issues in a couple of months, but the battle to get there may end up being too much for them.

As for the Cats, they’re not the same team they were in 2022 – that much is obvious. Players like Mitch Duncan are making mistakes you wouldn’t normally associate with them – it can be catching.

Right now, I reckon the Cats have another level, but I am not sure we’ll see it. We might see it from the Swans, but they may leave their run a bit late.


Next week, Sydney gets Richmond on Thursday night. Right to the point, the loser of that one is dead in the water. Meanwhile, the Cats get North Melbourne at Kardinia Park. So, they’ll be back on the winners’ list.

Also, when is that stupid ground going to be finished? I thought it was due to be complete in May, but here we are, with masses of empty space at the Cattery. Get a move on, will ya?


That’ll do me. Like this content? You could buy me a coffee – I do like coffee, but there is no guarantee I won’t use it to buy a doughnut… I like them more. And I am not brought to you by Sportsbet or Ladbrokes… or Bet365, or any of them.


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