Sydney Swans fly in Adelaide, down Crows
Did you see the Swans’ faces after the game? And their body language? Did you see it? Now that is what they’re talking about.
The Adelaide-Sydney game was not just a test of skill, but of character, and if there’s ever a club that understands the importance of character in the game, it’s the Swans.
There’s very little between the top sides now, and the Swans have as good a line-up and as much depth and skill as anyone. What they don’t yet have is the killer instinct.
But they’re working on it.
There was a moment in the first half of the second quarter when the game still could have gone either way. Dangerfield won a free just outside the attacking 50m and the Crows looked close to closing the two goal gap.
But phenomenal Swans pressure in the backline resulted instead in the pattern we were to see all day: Adelaide struggling like cross-country wrestlers to get their ball into a scoring position, the Swans ‘Super Six’ backline telling them, “Get that s*** offa my court!”, a few beautiful deliveries along the wing and a Swans goal instead: this one by Sam Reid from a perfect Jarrad McVeigh pass.
The Swans have very few holes in their game, but their defence is really the aspect that could deliver them the flag. And let’s not forget, their ’05 victory came from a mark in the backline: they may not have ‘Leaping’ Leo Barry anymore, but with defenders like Lewis Roberts-Thomson, powerful and convincing in his re-vamped role as defender, and Ted Richards, who gave Taylor Walker his worst day this year, we could well see a repeat performance in 2012.
A killer team would have finished Adelaide off in the third quarter; instead the Swans seemed content to let them get a run-on, then stop it. There were moments in the last quarter too when Swans had the ball in their backline and were content to settle and play possession, where a better option might have been to go hard into attack and demoralise the opposition.
They could afford the risk and they need the confidence; the losses to Hawthorn and Collingwood were just too close, a matter of who had the momentum when the siren went and the Swans will need to convince themselves they won’t let it happen again.
And there’s no real reason it should, because if they can muster the self-belief, they have the ability.
Ryan O’Keefe must be one of the most underrated players in the league. He can kick them on the run, from a set shot, from an angle, probably from the stadium roof if he had too, he’s that good. And his goals weren’t even needed on Saturday: that kind of kicking around the ground is just deadly.
Plus he marks, spoils, tackles, runs… with nearly 40 disposals, he proved once again that the Swans dodged a bullet when he didn’t go to Carlton.
Late replacement Mitch Morton: beautiful mark, beautiful goal, beautiful timing for both (answering a hard-earned goal from Sloane), then gets up ready to do it again. The natural forward Swans wanted. Remember, he was Richmond’s top goal-kicker before he came to Sydney, and against Adelaide he showed why.
Does anyone know what position Adam Goodes actually plays? All 18 of them, from Saturday’s viewing, and half-a-dozen of the opposition’s roles as well. He also is just the mentor Lewis ‘Twinkletoes’ Jetta needs; after the game Goodesy was cheering and pointing to him and calling to others what looked like, “That’s my man! That’s MY man!”
I wish I could see the replay from another angle, because I suspect Goodesy had a lot to do with getting Jetta settled after his early nerves. Like a stolid track pony with a twitchy young sprinter. If the stolid pony was also a dual Brownlow medallist.
Mike Pyke is still a worry, big factor in the loss to Geelong. “Made less mistakes this week,” is not what you want to say about a premiership player. He’ll need to lift to match the prevailing attitude now.
Alex Johnson seems no worse from that appaling Longmuire spray he copped last week, he had a terrific game. As did Kennedy (35 disposals), Hannebury, Mattner, Rhys Shaw and Shane Mumford.
Sydney’s depth is the factor that their opponents fail to counter, they are able to run a loose man behind the ball without sacrificing any strength.
Ben McGlynn’s hamstring injury looks like it might be right with the week’s rest, and that will give the selection committee an interesting choice. They may prefer to bring Heath Grundy back (from a one-match suspension) and put him somewhere unusual. A touch of creativity in using a player coming back in a different position can work wonders: look at Lewis Roberts-Thomson.
The Swans could not have asked for a better preparation. Such tough matches in the lead-up to the finals have ironed out many kinks and they will be using the week off wisely – drills, drills, drills. They won’t get away with skill errors against, say, Hawthorn.
As for the magical factor of psychology, they’re ironing kinks out there, too. At the end of the season they seemed to look around, notice with surprise that they were top of the ladder, get vertigo and promptly fall off.
But they are back on now, the faces of the players as they ran around applauding each other and their supporters, and in the clubrooms singing ‘The Red and The White’ with such gusto they were practically in tune, showed what they have that is taking more obvious teams by surprise:
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.