Sydney v GWS - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Swans picked up the pace and the Giants stood still and watched as Sydney downed their cross-town rivals and moved into the top four, ever so briefly.

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

 

THE GOOD

The fourth quarter blitz

There still seems to me that there is a big brother – little brother relationship between the Swans and the Giants. Even though the Giants have improved, made preliminary finals and become a force in the their own right, Sydney just seem to look at them with a little bit of disdain, and in their latest local derby, they treated them that way too.

For those who have younger siblings, have you ever had a fight with them? Even just a play fight? The young sibling always goes hard, and you might even let them get a couple of shots in, but when they finally slip one in that stings, you straighten up, look them in the eye, and you put them in their place.

That’s what Sydney did to the little brother this evening. They allowed the little brother to throw a few wild punches. They laughed off the little brother’s attempts to land the knockout blow, and then, when it looked as though the little brother might actually have a legitimate shot at beating them, they stopped the little brother in their tracks.

The Swans kicked five goals to three quarter time, but added six goals in the last quarter to turn a two goal deficit at three quarter time into a 20 point win.

Buddy

It was only a few weeks ago that we started making excuses for Franklin.

Oh, he hasn’t trained. Oh, his foot is still sore from Round One. Guys… this is Buddy Franklin! He just passed the legendary Leigh Matthews on the all-time goal kicking list. He is the only man playing the game right now with a ton to his name. He’s going to finish up one of just five blokes to kick 1000 goals. You don’t write him off, and you don’t make excuses for him.

He doesn’t need them.

Buddy slotted two of his patented 50 metre goals on the angle today. It’s funny – we’ve come to expect these goals from him. He marks the ball at the 50 metre line, wheels onto that left foot and just crunches them. They go, and go, and go and we applaud and nod at just how good a kick it is, but do we really appreciate them? If anyone else kicks those goals, we rave about what a tough kick it was, or how amazing the result is.

With Buddy, we just accept that Buddy does what Buddy does. And he did it today.

He kicked 5.4, had 14 contested possessions and five contested marks. He laid three tackles and had two direct goal assists (both to Luke Parker… he’d have to shout dinner at some point this week, you’d think?)

Lance Franklin is a freak. Recently, we asked if he’d gone past Wayne Carey? That article was pinched by another website recently, which kind of pissed me right off, but the question is a pertinent one. At an age where Carey was well and truly done, Buddy is still doing Buddy things. He was integral to the Swans’ comeback today, and there’d be a few coaches watching how Sydney have responded over the past three weeks. And they would not like what they’re seeing.

Dane Rampe

I thought Jeremy Cameron looked incredibly threatening early in the piece, but after quarter time, everywhere he went, his shadow was with him.

Actually, Rampe was more than a shadow. Often times, he was first to the ball, relegating Cameron to shadowing him. He was strong in marking contests, refused to allow Cameron to push him under the ball, and got timely fists in to break up marking attempts.

His leg speed was evident on a number of occasions, the most memorable being his neck and neck race back to goal against Cameron in the third quarter. It was the sort of contest you see the defender often fall over in, allowing the forward to run into goal unimpeded.

Not on this occasion. Rampe matched Cameron stride for stride, and forced the behind.

In fairness, Cameron should’ve had three goals at quarter time after the Giants took the advantage twice from free kicks he was awarded well within kicking distance, but following that quarter, the day belonged to Rampe.

Luke Parker

After watching the first quarter and a half, I thought both Shiel and Coniglio were both more damaging than Parker, but the rot soon stopped, and so did those two Giants. Parker though… he kept on keeping on, and he finished with an equal game-high 33 touches.

Amongst those 33, Parker had 15 contested touches and nine clearances, whilst doing plenty of heavy work around packs as well. He collected Matt Buntine heavily early in the game, but on watching the incident, I don’t think he has anything to worry about. It looked as though he was making a play on the ball, it was knocked upwards, his eyes followed the ball and he made contact with Buntine inadvertently.

If Luke needs me to be an advocate, I have an impeccable reputation.

But that shouldn’t overshadow just how good Parker was all night. He kicked a couple of goals (thanks Buddy) and worked at both ends of the ground, compiling a combined eight inside and rebound 50 possessions.

JK’s second half

I looked at the stats at half time (always a mistake) and saw that Kennedy had just nine touches in the first half. I thought that maybe he was going to have another of those games where he just flashes in and out of the game, but doesn’t have an influence.

In truth, there’s been a few of those games this season. That wasn’t the case today, however.

Kennedy’s second half made up for his lacklustre first, with the Sydney captain leading by example. He had 18 second half touches to total 27 for the game, and was started getting his hands on it in the middle as well as across half forward.

The only thing he didn’t do was convert in front of goal, but he did have nine score involvements.

The deal that sent Kennedy to Sydney has long been thought of as a steal by Sydney, and it was. I think the Mitchell move to Hawthorn is being viewed the same way. Perhaps this is just two successful clubs doing what is right by the players not getting the opportunities they thought they should?

Kennedy has been a warrior for the Swans, and in the second half today, the cream rose to the top again. Not only did he rack up the stats himself in the second half, he also nullified the influence of Stephen Coniglio at stoppages, taking responsibility for the prolific Giant.

Zak Jones

He has a few kinks in his game to work out, and had a little bit of time off to think about them, but my goodness… the bloke is hard at the ball and I loved the way he took on tackles and won today.

I reckon everyone needs a player like Zak Jones in their team. Someone who’ll tuck the ball under his arm and dare the opposition to take him down. He took some flak a few weeks ago for not putting his head over the ball when his turn came (and it happened in a game where he was happy to throw his weight around when others had their head over the ball, too) but he went when it was his turn today, and he didn’t take a backward step.

I thought his ball use was excellent today, particularly under pressure, and he provided the hard run, and the hardness at the ball the Swans required off half back when the Giants were looking to gain the ascendancy early on.

Kieren Jack

Welcome back… I was going to launch into a verse from Welcome back Kotter just there (underrated seventies TV show featuring John Travolta basically playing the same dude from Grease without the greaser hairstyle) but it didn’t translate well into text… so I wasted three lines talking about Travolta instead.

Anyway, Kieran Jack looked to have a bit of that old spark about him today. He has lacked explosiveness every time I’ve seen him to date, and got caught way more times than I’d remembered.

Today he looked lighter on his feet, but also more powerful through the hips. He was able to raise the ball above his head in a tackle, and power through the contact to either get the disposal away, or wade through the contact.

22 touches doesn’t sound all that impressive. Travelling at 46% efficiency doesn’t sound all that impressive either. But, eight inside 50 disposals is impressive. Two goals is impressive, and I guarantee that there’ll be several coaches of potential match ups in the first week of the finals thinking that they do not want to run into the Swans with a healthy Kieran Jack running around.

He adds another dimension to the tough Sydney midfield.

 

THE BAD

Robbed of the Davis v Franklin match up

I got a little caught up in the Frankin v Davis hype, I have to admit. You see, I love a good one-on-one duel. But when they started saying this was the modern day Carey v Jakovich, I had to draw the line. I might get a pasting from some, but Franklin v Rance is the closest we have to that classic series of encounters, and even that’s a fair way off.

Anyway, a couple of friendly fire knocks looked to have ended Davis’ day in the early part of the second quarter, as he gingerly made his way to the bench. It turns out the physios were able to do a great job in aiding him, but only enough so that he could play forward.

What does that say about the difficulty of playing in the backline?

Buddy had one goal prior to Davis’ departure, and licked his lips as Jeremy Finlayson took his Captain’s place. Part of me wonders whether Buddy did the old ‘Call the trainer over and ask for the footy record so he could check the name of the guy playing on him’ routine. I hold out hope that still happens.

If Davis v Franklin in the first quarter was anything to go by, we looked to be in for a treat. Immediately after the switch, Franklin got on top. Maybe they’ll see each other in the finals and pick up where they left off.

Rory Lobb

I lost count of the amount of times this bloke got both hands to the ball in a marking contest and failed to bring it to ground.

He does so much right, and then at the last moment, snatches ineptitude from the jaws of adequacy. Lobb has the potential to be one of the premier ruck/forwards in the league, but he plays like a bloke who doesn’t actually believe he should be out there. His marking, and dropping those pack grabs he has his name written all over seems like a form of self-sabotage at times.

He matched Cal Sinclair in the ruck duels, actually getting his hands to the ball four more times, but around the ground, Sinclair had him covered.

Lobb finished with seven touches and two marks and 10 hit outs to advantage. Not good enough.

He often gets compared to George McFly in terms of his looks. Well, McFly didn’t’ look that gifted when it came to sports. Tonight Cal Sinclair and the Swans went Biff Tannen on his ass.

 

THE UGLY

Stopping to a walk – the other side of the fourth quarter blitz

For every action there’s a reaction. That’s how the saying goes, right.

So here come the big, scary Swans in the last quarter. They’re hell-bent on taking the game by the scruff of the neck and shaking the life out of it. What’s the reaction of the Giants?

Have you ever seen one of those possums that just pretends to be dead as a defence? That’s about what the Giants offered up as the Swans threw down the challenge. They went into self-preservation mode, hacking the ball out of their immediate area, only to see it come back with interest.

I hate to say this, but they really missed Heath Shaw. As annoying as he is, and as unpredictable as he seems, what he offers is the ability to run and carry and the ability to hit a target coming outside 50. His injury and subsequent absence really exposed a lack of composure coming out of defence, a lack Nick Haynes couldn’t cover alone.

They also missed Josh Kelly, but every team in the league would miss a star like him.

The Swans kicked more goals in the last quarter than they’d managed for the first three, and the Giants just one for the term. These teams were playing for a potential top four spot, but as the siren sounded, only one team appeared to be worthy – the big brothers.

 

OTHER BITS

Did you know that Dylan Shiel, for the season, is travelling at just 22% accuracy when kicking at goal? This is not brought up anywhere near enough. He has kicked more out on the full when kicking for goal than he has goals.

I loved seeing Callan Ward dropping into the hole in front of Buddy in the first quarter, and I loved seeing Buddy making him pay, too. He didn’t try to kill him – the Swans can ill-afford to lose Franklin, but he let him know he was there. All’s fair.

Aidan Bonar was pretty stiff (get it?) to be pinged for holding the ball in the first quarter. Not sure he actually took possession before being tackled, and it definitely could’ve been holding the man. Tough job, being an umpire.

Do you think deep down, Jeremy Cameron was cursing teammates for taking the advantage when he had free kicks right in front of goal?

Nick Haynes is such an underrated player. He is doing everything others in sexier teams are doing and are being considered for All-Australian selection for, but he is doing it without the fanfare.

I was surprised Kieran Jack had the time he did after roving the spillage in the first quarter. He was able to look for options unimpeded before throwing the ball on his boot and goaling.

Another week, another great Isaac Heeney mark. This time Perryman took his legs from under him and Heeney clunked it anyway.

Quieter game for the Ronke today. He’ll have a few of these here and there.

I was kind of relieved when Ryan Griffen called it an afternoon – he was going up and down in the one spot today. He was icing up the hamstring, and I hope it is only a mild strain. I’d like to see him get a run at a couple of finals.

Nice face-smother by Cal Ward in the first.

Two out on the full kicks from Dylan Shiel in the first quarter. I refuse to put him in the good category when he’s going at 40% by foot. He misses targets way too often.

And to open the second quarter, Shiel kicks it straight to Aliir inside 50. This is the kick that bothered me most. He was streaming forward out of the centre, and this is the kick he chose. Aliir marked uncontested, which means no one was even in the vicinity of where this kick landed. There are plenty of teams who are linked to Shiel – I hope he stays a Giant, personally, but if you’re gonna pay top dollar for a bloke, you’d want to hope he can hit a target more than four times out of ten.

Wonderful mark by Harry Himmelberg with the flight of the ball and nice kick for goal. Cal Ward’s two overhead efforts in the play leading up to the goal made it all possible. Ward is such a great player.

Great to see the Stephen Kernahan helicopter special back in the game, with Tom McCartin pulling it out of his bag of tricks. None of you responded last week, so I’m asking again. If you’re given the choice right now, which McCartin brother do you take?

Great goal keeping by Ollie Florent to prevent the Cameron snap from sneaking home. I’m convinced that all great teams have a bloke willing to drop back and cover the goal mouth for just this reason. Seeing the Swans do it today… I’d by no means call them great, but it is a great piece of coaching/play.

Nick Haynes desperate attempt to spoil the juggling marking attempt of Ronke was fantastic. Firstly, if Ronke clunks it, there is no spoil. Secondly, I reckon there are a lot of players who would’ve given up on the spoil. Wonderful to see Haynes persevere. He may be my favourite Giant behind Andre.

Two real errors by Jacob Hopper to round out the first half. With 50 seconds remaining, Hopper had one-on-ones down the ground but opted to stop and wait for Coniglio to run past in a play that went nowhere. Then he decided to handball a few seconds later and completely overcooked it, causing a fumble. The first one resulted in the ball being held up. The second one resulted in a rushed kick inside 50 which fell to Jake Lloyd’s advantage against Cameron.

Aliir had a bit of a case of butterfingers in the third quarter. Looked a bit clumsy at ground level, and also dropped what was probably his easiest intercept mark chance of the game.

Very solid physical clash between Cameron and Lloyd on the boundary early in the third. All above board. Nothing to see here. Please disperse.

It would be interesting to see a comparative stat for Franklin’s shots at goal from 50 metres on a 45 degree angle and his shots from 30-35 metres out on a 45 degree angle. Maybe it just SEEMS like he misses more from 35 metres out because they’re so gettable?

The deliberate free kick against Finlayson was one of the worst of the year. Just a terrible decision. Kennedy missing the resultant shot from the free kick inboard was probably poetic justice.

Six consecutive misses from the swans in the third quarter may seem like a huge let off for the Giants, but the dye was cast, and with that sort of attack, the Giants were bound to capitulate.

Great fend off by Buddy on Finlayson on the boundary. He tried this last week and got caught by the second tackler, Neville Jetta, but he got rid of Finlayson, and squared the ball beautifully to Parker. Vintage Buddy.

Loved Isaac Heeney’s mark against Matt Kennedy, using his chest to body Kennedy under the ball. He may have missed the goal, but little things like that… I may have a man crush on Heeney.

The Giants looked out on their feet in the last. Is this the result of all those injuries? That they just run out of gas? They were stop-start the whole last quarter, with no flow to their game, no run and carry, and no one putting in the gut running to make position.

Second face-smother of the game saw Cal Sinclair sacrifice his good looks to prevent Langdon’s soccer attempt.

The half-hack out of defensive 50 is now the most dangerous kick in the game. Buntine’s pissy little effort should have cost GWS a goal. Hayward marked it, squared it to Lloyd, but he kicked it like a defender.

I spoke to soon – Nick Haynes actually made a bit of play due to running to position and going quickly inside 50 for the Giants. Unfortunately, Himmelberg missed the shot at goal after marking.

I see Luke Parker gave the pat on the head to Haynes after he was outmarked by Buddy. Players just don’t like that, and on the retaliation, Haynes gave away 50. Soft call by the umpire.

 

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