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Opinion

Swans vs Tigers talking points: Round 3

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Roar Guru
4th April, 2021
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Here are some of the talking points from the Swans dominant 45-point win against the Richmond Tigers at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.

1: Tigers midfield declawed
In one of the upsets of the season, the vaunted Richmond midfield was well and truly beaten by the somewhat unheralded Sydney midfield. With commentators and pundits alike declaring an end to the “bull” midfielder – a Josh Kennedy-like player, it was Kennedy who tore shreds from the Tigers’ on-ball brigade.

His eight clearances and game-high five centre clearances set the tone for the Swans, but it was rising star Callum Mills who had the biggest impact, finishing with a game-high eight clearances – four of them from the centre.

With excellent performances by Oliver Florent and fifth game-player Chad Warner, Richmond coaches were dumbfounded and had no answer. Magnets were tossed in the air – Martin played at full-forward for over a quarter, captain Trent Cotchin was shifted to the back flank, Shai Bolton was moved to full-forward and continued to have no impact, Daniel Rioli, subbed on for Dion Prestia (hamstring) had virtually no impact.

It’s telling that Sydney had the top-6 disposal players on the ground, finishing the match with 47 more disposals, 15 more inside 50s and 55 more marks.

2: Swans breakdown Tigers zoning defence
Carlton had a big start in the Round 1 match against the Tigers, booting five of the first six goals, and holding a 30-point lead midway through the first quarter.

Quick, direct ball movement and precise field kicking split the Tigers apart. It was a similar blueprint the Swans followed, avoiding the trap of sideways chips to the spare the Tigers give you.

David King in his assessment this week on the pre-match show and The First Crack Podcast, described it as “Richmond’s Gambit”, whereby they give you the out player, but set up behind the ball, forcing the long kick.

Errol Gulden of the Swans celebrates after kicking a goal

Errol Gulden of the Swans (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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Sydney didn’t fall into that trap, nor did they always take the gambit. Early in the match, Richmond won the ball back through sloppy long kicks, but once Sydney regained control through the second and third quarters, it was the precise, short kicks through the lines that carved the Tigers up.

Richmond simply didn’t have an answer to Sydney’s ball movement, which was quick, precise, and deliberate as soon as it entered the square, resulting in 15 forward 50 marks to 10.

3: Dusty no impact, George Hewett the man with a plan
Heading into the match, the focus was on stopping one of the greatest midfielders of our generation, Dustin Martin. Hawthorn tried a team approach and stuck Shaun Burgoyne to him, but Martin had a day out and could have finished with five goals.

The Swans went with a similar game plan, sticking to a team approach at the contests, and Hewett sticking to him like a glove when he roamed forward.

It was expected that Martin would have the upper hand on Hewett in the forward line, but in their handful of forward-50 contests, Hewett prevented Martin from marking, and crucially, didn’t give away any free kicks.

Such was Sydney’s utter dominance in the midfield contests, Martin cut a dejected figure before halftime, shrugging his shoulders and waving his hands as he slowly jogged from contest-to-contest.

Dustin Martin leads the Tigers off after a loss

Dustin Martin leads the Tigers off after a loss. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

4: Swans inaccuracy kept the Tigers in the hunt
Despite leading by 57-points late in the third quarter, and running out 45-point eventual winners, the Swans wasted numerous opportunities in the first quarter and deserved more than their 8-point lead.

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The post was hit nine times throughout the match – five times by the Swans, with Nick Blakey, Gulden, and Tom Papley missing golden opportunities to extend the lead.

Blakey will rue his missed opportunity in what would have surely been the goal of the round, and one of the candidates for goal of the season.

5: Swans blow past 100 for third-straight week
The Swans did a number on the Tigers on Saturday, becoming the only team to beat them at the MCG during a day match in their premiership run, with their last loss coming in Round 13, 2017 – also the Swans.

Sydney passed the 100-point mark for the third time this season – the first time in three years the Tigers had conceded more than 100 points up to three-quarter time. The last time the Swans scored 100+ points in 3-consecutive matches was Round 7-to-9 in 2017.

The Swans still maintain the highest average score per match this season – 121 points and impressively had led their opponents by at least 50 points in each match.

6: Swans annihilate Tigers on turnovers
Both teams came into the match ranked one and two for scores from turnovers, but it was the Swans that applied the blowtorch early and kept it applied throughout the match.

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The Tigers so used to playing their pressure-style of football, wilted under the Swans onslaught, with the Swans outscoring 4.3 (27) to. 2.2 (14) from defensive chains in the first half-alone – Richmond’s strength. Scores from intercept possessions – turnovers, was even more telling, with the Swans scoring a phenomenal 7.8 (50) to 1.5 (11) – almost their score half-time score.

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The pressure finally wilted late in the game when both teams had run out of legs, the Swans thrashing the Tigers 13.10 (88) to 3.10 (28) in scores from turnovers. The Swans are the number-one ranked team in the AFL for scores from turnovers, and are averaging almost 80-points-per-game from that source.

Going into the match ranked first in scores from turnovers, defensive chains, forward half pressure, and kick-outs, the Swans did more than enough to maintain their stranglehold.

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