After another failed September campaign, John Longmire entered the 2018 season with his seat starting to warm up slowly, having just one premiership to his name from seven consecutive finals appearances.
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Lance Franklin continues to climb up the list of all-time leading VFL-AFL goalkickers, but it’s his other assets which are earning the plaudits of his Sydney coach and teammates.
Franklin kicked two late goals in Saturday’s 16-point derby home win over Greater Western Sydney to move up to 874, joint ninth with Peter McKenna.
The 31 year-old spearhead had another compelling duel with Giants’ defender Phil Davis and didn’t have a single score against his name until just a few minutes from the end, but ultimately secured the hard-earned win for his club.
The Giants had kicked four straight goals to slash a 33-point deficit to ten, when Franklin added yet another spectacular long distance score to his already packed highlight reel.
He fended off Nick Haynes and booted the ball around 60 metres for a pressure relieving goal and added a second major a few minutes later.
Even without those goals, Franklin had stuffed the stats sheet, tallying 22 possessions, ten marks nine inside 50s and three score assists.
“The stuff that doesn’t get spoken about is his defensive work rate and a lot of his pressure, so I thought he was super again,” Sydney ruckman Callum Sinclair told Swans TV.
With Sinclair bagging three goals, and two each to forwards, Sam Reid, Tom Papley ,Will Hayward and Gary Rohan, Franklin had enormous support in the scoring department.
“No doubt we need to make sure we have a spread going forward,” Swans’coach John Longmire said.
“Lance still had nine inside 50, so it’s not always about (him) hitting the scoreboard.
“When he’s up the ground he provides opportunities for others as well.”
Longmire will be hoping Reid’s thigh injury late in the game won’t prevent him from playing against the Western Bulldogs at Etiahd Stadium next Saturday.
Returning from injury to play his first game of the season, Reid provided a significant aerial presence up forward.
“He (Reid) was good tonight, he provided a real target for us in our front half,” Longmire said.
Another strong contributor to Sydney’s winning effort was reliable midfielder-forward George Hewett, who shut down in-form Giants speedster Lachie Whitfield.
“He did a pretty good job George, he was really disciplined he could not have done much better,,” Longmire said.