I know I said I’d be doing Fremantle but I forgot to do a Hawthorn review. We first start with what worked (hint – not the coaching handover), what didn’t work, remaining questions, and the solutions to those problems.
Imagine the worry, the near-forensic analysis, if Hawthorn star Lance Franklin had only managed one goal and five marks so far in this AFL finals series.
That is the output from Franklin’s Sydney counterpart Sam Reid so far this September, but the Swans are far from fazed ahead of Saturday’s grand final.
One of the greatest dangers facing Hawthorn in the premiership decider will be the unconventional nature of the Sydney attack.
Reid is Sydney’s No.1 key forward, but he has only kicked 30 goals this season from 21 games.
Their leading goalkicker is speedster Lewis Jetta on 45, followed by Adam Goodes on 36 and then Reid and Ben McGlynn.
Nine Sydney players have kicked 20 or more goals this season.
Contrast that with the Adelaide attack that nearly sunk Hawthorn in last Saturday’s preliminary final.
Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett kicked four goals apiece as the Crows focused heavily on the two key forwards and split the Hawthorn defence whenever possible.
Reid only had four possessions and a tackle in his side’s preliminary final against Collingwood, but coach John Longmire praised him for his pressure in the match.
The 20-year-old has never been a traditional key forward, with a haul of six goals against Brisbane being his only bag this year.
“I’ve been playing a few different roles. Obviously it doesn’t impact my confidence too much when I’m not kicking goals,” Reid said this week.
“If we’re being successful and I’m playing my role within the structures, I’m happy.
“I’ve been out of form a little bit and I’ve had a little bit of the fumbles, but obviously I still take confidence if I play my role within the structures, and we’re successful.”
Reid is content being one of many bit-part players in the Swans’ forward line.
“I think through the year we’ve shown with the amount of height, but also the mobility of our talls … the way we’re able to move plus contest in the air, has been a massive strength for us,” he said.
The youngster burst onto the scene last year as a forward with a clean set of hands who could clutch a contested mark with the best of them.
But his goalkicking accuracy was a worry – he kicked 22.26 last year from 23 games.
This season, Reid’s radar has functioned better and he has returned 30.18.
Now in his third season at the Swans, Reid will feature in a grand final and admits it feels surreal to do so given his age.
Grand final week isn’t completely foreign to him, having been in Melbourne alongside Collingwood brother Ben in 2010 and 2011.
After they played against each other last Friday night in the preliminary final, older brother had some advice.
“I spoke to him briefly and he just said to make the most of the opportunity and make sure you do everything possible to make sure you’re right for it and get yourself up for it. Soak it in,” Sam said.