Sydney v Ugly - The Good, Bad and St Kilda

A nine goal first quarter put the result beyond doubt as the Swans trampled the hapless Saints at the Docklands Stadium.

Here’s the Mongrel’s good, bad, and St Kilda.

 

THE GOOD

We could choose the usual suspects of Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Jarrad McVeigh and Lance Franklin, but there were some newer faces that were good in the first and second when the game was there to be won. They’re the ones who put the Swans in a position for the stars to shine.

The Swans' first quarter

Nine goals, and a complete domination of an opponent on their home turf. That’s what we got in the first quarter. The Swans hunted the Saints, and absolutely destroyed them in just about every contest.

The Saints were like deers in the headlights.

No, scratch that – they were roadkill!

Florent, Ronke, Heeney, Lloyd, Jones… they were all brilliant in the first quarter, and they were not just good with ball in hand – they applied the sort of pressure that great teams apply. They smelled the blood tonight, and they saw a wounded St Kilda and went in for the kill early.

Ollie Florent

Loving seeing him run through the middle. He was everywhere early and is now playing with confidence. Had he not got the Rising Star award last weekend, he’d be the frontrunner for it this week.

27 touches for the game, and ten of them came in the first quarter when the game was there to be won. The Swans have a diamond here.

Isaac Heeney

Speaking of diamonds, he is an absolute gem.

Heeney can basically do anything, and will be a constant in the Swans side, barring injury, for the next ten years.

In the pre-season, we nominated Heeney as the one player Sydney wouldn’t want to lose. We’ve seen Buddy out, Kennedy down, Jack rested and Hannebery averaging the lowest total he has since 2009, yet the Swans are chugging along beautifully.

It’s thanks to players like Heeney, who are the next generation of Swan stars… and they’re here already.

Zak Jones

Jones was up and about in the first quarter. He applied the physical pressure, and he let the Saints know all about it. If there was one bloke who looked like he meant business, it was Jones. He kicked a goal in the first quarter where the Swans’ ball movement was so crisp that it made St Kilda look inept.

He has a big brother playing in a huge game on Easter Monday, and if he has a first quarter like his little brother had here, he’d be pretty pleased.

Callum Sinclair

He embarrassed Tom Hickey in the first quarter.

He drifted forward, slotted two goals and made Hickey look like a ghost – like he simply wasn’t there. Sinclair is in the second tier of ruckmen in my opinion. You have Grundy, Gawn, Naitanui and (at the moment) Stefan Martin, but Sinclair could be knocking on the door of that company pretty soon.

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THE BAD

They just don’t hit the targets that matter

So many “nothing” kicks for the Saints. You might look at the stats and see that they went at 71% efficiency when disposing of the ball. It’s a pity that every disposal that actually mattered missed the target.

They double grabbed, which invited pressure from the Swans all the way through the first quarter, and when the pressure came, they couldn’t handle it.

As a matter of fact, the only thing that went their way were a few free kicks when the Swans were a little overzealous. You know how those free kicks came about? They fumbled, and the Swans weren’t expecting them to. They’d lose the ball and get holding the man. They’d fumble and have to drop to pick it up and a Swan would get into their back. That’s about the only genuine wins the Saints had in the first quarter.

It was riveting, only inasmuch as I was wondering just how much they could screw up.

Saints miss, Swans convert, heads drop.

When you’re getting beaten so badly, you have to convert when you get the chance.

Not if you’re St Kilda, apparently.

It took til the second quarter until Paddy McCartin had a shot at goal. 45 metres out, right in front… miss. It goes up the other end and Josh Kennedy goals.

It’s moments like this that just rip the heart out of teams. You may have heard the commentators talk about the lack of midfield pressure. It goes both ways. If the midfield are working hard and McCartin and co. continually waste chances, heads drop and effort falls away. Why run your guts out and put your body on the line when the blokes up forward just blow chance after chance?

THE UGLY

St Kilda

I might be pulling a late night tonight, I think. This almost deserves a deep dive all of its own.

What I saw from St Kilda today rivalled what I saw from Gold Coast this afternoon as I half-watched their anaemic effort against the Giants.

It was St Kilda wearing a jumper that represented pride. Different context, I know, but there was NOTHING to be proud about if you’re involved with St Kilda tonight.

I’ve heard the excuses about injuries to key players, and so on… I don’t buy it. They were shells of a team in the first quarter, and did not come to play. Jack Steven had one touch in the first quarter. ONE TOUCH! Paddy McCartin had none. Tom Hickey had none as Callum Sinclair put him to the sword. Mav Weller, who has been bloody useless all season, had one touch, as did Nick Coffield and Daniel McKenzie.

The rot set in with these guys in Round Two. They have showed signs at times, but overall, they stink. No sugar-coating, they absolutely stink.

They’ll lose Jack Billings at the end of this year, and I doubt the coach will last the year.

Get this – from the first 100 games as coach, Alan Richardson has won 34 games. Robert Walls had less coaching Brisbane, as did Denis Pagan at Carlton, Bill Stephen at Fitzroy, and Ron Barrassi in his last stint at Melbourne. That’s it. Every other coach has been more successful after 100 games. How many has Brendan Bolton coached at Carlton?

That’s what you’re dealing with. St Kilda are a basket case – I was angry at having to watch their ineptitude tonight.

OTHER BITS

St Kilda’s highlight of the first quarter came when Nathan Brown managed to cut off a kick to Franklin and soccer it away. It was all downhill from there.

Tom Papley started showing a little bit tonight. I think, on his day, he can be one of the most damaging small forwards in the game. He has a bit of competition at Sydney these days.

You reckon a player like… oh, I don’t know… like Jack Billings could get a game with this St Kilda mob? Yeah he hasn’t been great this year, but he has ability, which many Saints players lack. I doubt Billings will be with the Saints next season. There’s not many teams that wouldn’t entertain the idea of a trade for him.

Loved Ronke’s willingness to do the hard stuff. Running hard to make a contest in the air, or tackling hard… he is not just about the offensive side of the game. I loved the effort of him chasing down Dan McKenzie on the wing.

Five of the bottom six in disposals at quarter time were unsurprisingly Saints.

Zak Jones has one of the most punchable faces in the game. It goes 1 – Sicily, 2 – Toby Greene… then somewhere down the list Zak Jones.

You could tell Buddy wanted a bit of a bag tonight. He worked pretty hard all evening and made multiple leads to get shots. Inaccuracy was probably the only thing that stood in his way.

How good is Mcveigh? Great vision and has almost Pendlebury-like poise.

Dane Rampe doesn’t spend much time feeling sorry for himself. That landing after colliding with Buddy in mid-air was pretty harsh… and then he just bounces up. Amazingly, that was the collision that sent Nathan Brown to the bench for the rest of the game. On face value, he looked like he came out of it best. Not so…

Blokes Buddy Franklin’s size shouldn’t be able to step around opponents the way he does.

Pressure was well and truly dead by the start of the third quarter. Not sure I’ve seen a team exit defensive 50 as easily as the Swans did on several occasions early in the third.

Jack Steven’s kick to full forward landed in the middle of four Swans. FOUR! You know what was a better option than kicking it there? Anything.

Shane Savage, who looked like one of the only Saints who gave a toss, really burned Paddy McCartin when he went for goal from 50 in the third. Didn’t even make the distance while Paddy stood alone at 35 metres.

Unselfish play by Sinclair, dishing to Buddy despite being well in range in the fourth quarter.

How ridiculous were the misses by Gresham and McCartin back to back from the goal square? If anything sums up the Saints’ night, it’d be that five seconds.

And that’ll do for a game that the Swans could’ve won by 100+ if they decided to be serious. If you like what you’re getting from The Mongrel, or even if you are mildly amused by how annoyed at the Saints I am, give us a like on Facebook, or a follow on Twitter and I promise I’ll get angry at another useless team soon enough.