Sydney v West Coast - The Good, Bad and Ugly

They did it in Round One, and they did it again in Round Thirteen. The Swans remained the only team to be the West Coast Eagles, doing it without a bag of goals from Buddy Franklin, and winning by 15 points.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

THE GOOD

Ollie Florent

The Swans continue to uncover gems.

Florent was equal-leader in disposals, with 29 and looked like an emerging champion of the game tonight. He reads the play beautifully, and works back hard to support his defenders.

Florent was taken at pick 11 in the 2016 draft and has definitely gone past several who were taken ahead of him. If you redrafted that season’s draft again now, Florent would now be giving top five a shake.

Aliir Aliir

We’ll touch on the back line as a whole soon, but Aliir was brought back into the team this week… with a wonderful new hairstyle and a renewed purpose, seemingly.

He pulled down a game-high ten marks as he drifted across half back. He had eight intercept possessions and made one mistake all night. The Swans’ defence has been bolstered recently with the emergence of players like Marsh and Lloyd, but a fit and committed Aliir makes them a very solid unit.

His mark, running back with the flight of the ball in the second quarter was a ripper. If that ball gets out the back, it was almost a certain goal to Waterman and the Eagles.

Elliot Yeo

He looked like the only Eagle capable of breaking the game open, and he almost did.

His goals at the conclusion of the third quarter and the beginning of the last gave the Eagles genuine hope. Watching him, you got the feeling that if he just did one more exceptional thing, the tide could completely change.

He finished with a game-high 29 touches, of which 13 were contested. He kicked two goals and was responsible for directly assisting on two others. If he was still flying under the radar of anyone, he has to be on it now.

George Hewett

Ask anyone who the best tagger in the AFL is, and people will automatically tell you it’s Ben Jacobs.

A few more games like tonight’s and the name George Hewett will start being mentioned in the conversation as well.  He held the returning Luke Shuey to 14 touches and collected 24 disposals himself, and he tracked at 88% with his disposals as well.

Hewett was particularly impressive in the first half when his diligence held Shuey to 6 touches. Some may argue that Shuey was an easier target, given he would be lacking a little in match fitness, but again, you can’t blame Hewett for that. If Shuey plays, to me, he’s fit. Take nothing away from Hewett – it won’t be the last time he shuts a star down this season, and if he manages it a couple of times in September…

… we’ll just leave it right there.

Dan Hannebery

He’s had a couple of poorer games this season, and is averaging fewer than 20 disposals for the first time in years.

But tonight, he more than held his own. Matched up often against West Coast running machine, Andrew Gaff, Hannebery had 21 handballs amongst his 24 disposals, whilst holding Gaff to the same amount. When you look at the season as a whole, Hanners played above what was expected and Gaff played below.

You have to give the points to Hannebery.

Swans back six

We touched on Aliir above, but hats off to the rest of the Swans’ defenders. Heath Grundy, Nick Smith, Dane Rampe, Harry Marsh and the man with the third most punchable face in the game, Zak Jones were all fantastic.

The Eagles bombed it into their attacking 50 time and time again (they had 11 more than the Swans) but the Swans were so well-drilled and combine so well that they were able to repel attacks more often than not. They were aided by some less than accurate delivery from the Eagles, but you can’t hold the Swan defenders responsible for the poor entries of the Eagles.

THE BAD

Wasteful Eagles

Every side misses goals. Nobody’s perfect… blah, blah, blah.

The Eagles seemed to miss goals at important times tonight. Plenty of focus could go on Kennedy and Brander late, but there were so many misses during the night that, on any other day, the Eagles would’ve nailed. They should’ve been closer.

LeCras is such a beautiful kick of the footy – he missed. Naitanui had a simple 30 metre snap… miss. Liam Ryan had one that he’d kick nine times out of ten. Buddy evened it up later on with several misses of his own, but watching the forwards miss very gettable goals is the sort of stuff that sees a team drop their heads on the road.

Give the Eagles credit – they didn’t stop trying, but they didn’t make it easy for themselves.

THE UGLY

The Buddy dive?

I’m not sold on this just yet. It was by no means an Alex Rance-ish effort, where he looked like a plane with no wings trying to take off. Bud’s effort looked like he slightly accentuated the contact to the side and back to milk a free kick.

It worked, but that’s not the way you want to see things play out. Whilst he was isolated on Shannon Hurn, the Swans’ mids sought out his mismatch and Buddy is just so big, so strong and gets in such good position that Hurn, and Sheppard when he was forced back on Buddy, felt compelled to hang on.

I suppose the point is similar to the Rance one – no one likes a diver. I give Buddy the benefit of the doubt on this, but I’d hate to see something like this creep into his game. He, like Rance, is good enough that he doesn’t need to do it.

 

OTHER BITS

It was interesting to see how many eagle defenders cycled through Franklin in the first 15 minutes. Sheppard, Hurn, Jetta, Duggan and McGovern all took their turn to dance with Buddy in the first quarter. Whenever he left the forward line, McGovern sagged off. It worked til half time.

I thought Callum Sinclair really held his own against the Naitanui/Lycett combination in the first half. Whilst they had 48 hit outs between them to Sinclair’s 16 for the game, Sinclair stifled their influence. After half time, Nainatui’s tap work came to the fore.

Liam Ryan really burned Willie Rioli with his first goal. Rioli stood on the line waiting for the “Joe the Goose”. Ryan took a bounce and kicked the goal himself.

As much as the offensive work from Ben Ronke gets the press, his chasing and work to get back and man the mark attentively is just as good.

Someone asked before the game whether the Eagles would change their forward structure without Jack Darling. I couldn’t help thinking in the first half that the way they were going inside 50 looked as though they were looking for the contested mark – and the bloke that was doing that all year for them was Jack Darling. I reckon he would’ve grabbed one or two of them.

First goal of the game came with five minutes left of game time in the first quarter. Like a movie that my friend, Joe Ganino would like to watch, tonight was a real tackle-fest.

That first goal was a result of the late Franklin pressure on Jack Redden. He does that a little too often, does Mr. Franklin.

Heeney’s tackle on Redden was one of the best of the year. In a game with a heap of good, hard tackles, Heeney’s was the best.

I liked Lycett running hard to test Sinclair early. He was contesting in the middle, then at half forward and then made ground to be involved in the forward pocket.

The goal to Papley in the second was the result of a missed arm-chop on Gaff. It looked like everyone was waiting for the whistle.

Well-documented in the telecast, but Tom McCartin had a couple of nice clunks in this game. He’s coming along nicely.

Luke Parker was caught holding the ball three times in the first half. Unlike him

Naitanui’s attempted banana kick in the right forward pocket was an absolute abortion of an effort. Not sure I’ve seen a worse one – the kick, I mean. I’ve never seen an abortion.

Loved Lloyd’s ability to change direction on the last line of defensive. He was so quick and agile that he completely lost Josh Kennedy, who was right on his tail prior to that.

The Swans’ version of Josh Kennedy was very good tonight. Loved his strong hands as he marked at 40 and had Shuey crash into him. Josh gave his head a little rub – Shuey left the ground for a concussion test. He’s tough.

I reckon Naitanui would be glad to have Shuey back. He loves looking for him at those centre bounces.

Excellent manning of the mark by Rampe as Kennedy kicked for goal, getting the smother. If you see one of your team standing on the mark as someone kicks for goal, remind them of what Rampe did. Saved a potential goal.

If you ever needed any more impetus to hold a mark, check out Andrew Gaff’s result when he dropped one he should of taken in the third quarter. Waiting for him was Buddy Franklin and he took him down in a hard tackle. Hold your marks, Andrew.

The value of Josh Kennedy (Syd) was on display with a chiselling pass to Kieran Jack at 40 metres out. Just a sizzling pass for the direct goal assist.

If you’re gonna leave Buddy to make another contest, you have to make sure you impact it. McGovern left Franklin and failed to even make it to the Luke Parker marking contest. The resultant quick kick over the defence saw Buddy all alone for his first goal.

Loved the stat for poor Will Hayward as he kicked for goal in the third – seven disposals at 0% efficiency. Was so glad he slotted the goal. 100% on that kick, BT!

Three free kicks to Franklin in five minutes makes you wonder whether it would be better to just leave McGovern on the ground.

Harry Marsh’s 50 metre penalty against Kennedy (WCE) was perhaps the softest 50 of the season.

Just wasn’t Franklin’s night, tonight. Two goals and five misses is one thing, but he also bobbled a chest mark over the goal line in the last, as well. His errors were matched by those of Kennedy (WCE) at the other. A dropped chest mark at half forward and a miss in the last quarter from 30 metres out were very un-Kennedy-like.

I’m actually quite surprised the Eagles got within 15 points in the end. I know the Swans went defensive for most of the game, but the game just felt as though it was a 4-5 goal game for most of the second half. The Swans just strangle teams at the SCG. Tonight was no exception.

 

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