Match report: Swans continue march towards the finals

The Swans today kept themselves within touching distance of the top 4, after a stirring win against the Saints in the first Pride match for points in the Harbour city on Saturday night.

Callum Sinclair lead from the front with five superb goals, two in the first quarter, to put the Saints to the sword once more this season.

It's effectively ended the Saints finals hopes, with a next round trip to Adelaide Oval, but with the Swans playing the Hawks at the MCG, the Swans will be hoping the Saints can reignite their finals campaign.

Despite a quiet first half, Franklin ended up on three goals and lead the Swans forward line with aplomb, kicking long, or giving off when the opportunity presented.

Pre-game

The Swans went into the game unchanged from the Thursday teams, after the Swans NEAFL team thrashed NT Thunder in the curtain raiser.

Jordan Dawson was superb for the reserves team with 3 goals, 40 disposals, 14 marks and 8 tackles.

The game

Koby Stevens made his presence felt at the first bounce with a fair whack across Luke Parker's chops.

https://twitter.com/AFL/status/888696198512517121

But after that, it was almost all the Swans, with Callum Sinclair filling in for Reid bagging the first two scores of the game.

The Swans had the ball locked in their forward 50 with impressive intensity and strong tackling pressure, leading 5-to-1 inside 50s just 5 minutes into the match.

Luke Parker had the next score for the Swans, as their wastefulness was telling, with the Saints laying desperate last-ditch tackles and forcing the Swans into rushed disposals.

Of course, the Saints hit back through Koby Stevens and the way the game was playing, you would have expected another sucker goal.

But the Swans regained the ascendency and lead superbly by Luke Parker, with 6 contested possessions early in the first quarter, scored the next three behinds before George Hewett put the second goal on the board.

The Swans continued to roll on and Callum Sinclair had his 2nd on the board shortly afterwards, with a superb effort, with most of the Swans scoring chances coming from turnovers.

Gary Rohan missed a gettable shot, while the Swans defence held firm and rushed through a behind right before the quarter time siren.

The Swans were destroying the Saints with the ball, well ahead on pressure, inside 50s, contested disposals and time in forward half.

Despite the Saints having a fair share of the ball, they were wasteful with it, and the Swans started the 2nd quarter where they left off in the first.

Franklin, well held in the first quarter, kicked his first of the night, starting a run of goal-for-goal, with Bruce kicking from beyond 50 to answer back, and Heeney kicking a superb crumbing goal.

It was superb work from the mercurial player, who kicked the goal from the his own centre clearance, a perfect example of just how hard you have to work at the top level.

https://twitter.com/AFL/status/888702035083657216

Where the Swans rushed the ball at times in the first quarter and butchered the ball, they started to play tempo and controlled football, while the Saints tried to possess it as well.

It wasn't long before Callum Sinclair had his third of the match and looked like a monster in the forward line, while Captain Kennedy went down town just minutes later, extending the lead to 33 points.

Shane Savage answered back not long after, following another Lance Franklin miss, before Henney was penalised for a "rugby tackle" on Jarryn Geary, despite the diminutive midfielder trying to jump over the top of him.

https://twitter.com/AFL/status/888706361340469248

Bad turned to worse for Blake Acres, given the worst thing you could possibly receive in the sport, a hospital handpass.

He was flattened in a collision by Callum Mills, as both players went hard at the ball and Acres was left wide open.

https://twitter.com/AFL/status/888707760019222533

Half-time couldn't come quick enough for the beleaguered Saints, as they struggled to get a foothold in the match, while the Swans wastefulness kept them in touch.

The Swans were smashing the Saints in the inside 50 count, with more than double at half time, and Luke Parker collecting an astounding 10 contested possessions.

It was an embarrassing half for the Saints, but fortunately for football sake, they put in a considerably improved effort after the break.

Despite the Swans kicking the first three behinds of the half through Jack, Sinclair and Heeney, Nick Riewoldt finally found a way to influence the game with a long goal to keep them in touch.

But with the Swans once against schooling the Saints in contested ball and clearances, winning the first four of the quarter, three of them resulting in scores, they answered back just a minute later through Callum Sinclair, bagging his fourth of the match.

Despite the pressure of both sides, the low number of tackles was telling, with both sides managing just 31 tackles each 10 minutes into the third quarter.

It's been a long time since the Swans have played a game with such a low tackle count, but where the tackle count was low, the umpires were ensuring their free kick against total was high, such as the disgraceful and at times flabbergasting officiating.

Josh Bruce kept the Saints in touch once again with his second goal of the match, but with the Swans still dominating inside 50s, time in forward half and contested possessions, Franklin had all the time in the world to kick his second goal of the match.

https://twitter.com/AFL/status/888717358461628416

Despite the Saints finally gaining an ascendency in the contest, Dan Hannebery's 356 metres gained nearing the end of the third quarter was telling, especially his 7 inside 50s.

Eventually, the Swans exerted enough pressure to force the Saints into another turnover, before picking out Towers in the forward line.

He sunk the slipped into it and went long from down town to extend the lead once again, and more Sydney pressure in the final 10 minutes lead to another goal through Callum Sinclair, his fifth for the match.

The only thing that kept the match respectable, and the Saints within distance, was the Swans wastefulness in front of goal.

Echoing previous performances against the Bombers and Demons, the Swans had booted 11.14 at three quarter time, with Franklin, Sinclair, Towers, Parker and Jack all missing shots anywhere from gettable to dead set certainties.

The shocking form in front of goal continued early in the fourth, with Towers kicking his second behind of the match, followed up by Bruce's 3rd goal of the night.

Despite leading by almost 8 goals at three quarter time, the Swans ceded the the play to the Saints at the start of the fourth quarter, which was sure to cause John Longmire to turn red with rage.

Despite the Swans slacking off and the Saints giving a shit three quarters too late, Franklin's 3rd goal kept the Sydney food firmly on the St Kilda throat.

Billings and Newnes kicked two goals on the run to give some butterflies to Swans fans, 5 goals down with 9 minutes left to play.

However, ridiculous play from Acres and Dunstan gifted Rohan a 100m free kick and he kicked truly from the goal square.

Dunstan made amends shortly after, dummying Grundy before banging it long off his left for a superb long range goal.

Jarrad McVeigh proved that his old legs still have a few tricks left, feigning a kick before snapping truly in the pocket, for his first of the night and the last goal of the match.

https://twitter.com/AFL/status/888728693396328452

It was a solid win by the Swans, set up with a strong, physical first half, with the Saints barely staying in touch.

Had the Swans kicked accurately, they would have blown the Saints out of the water, and could well have ended up winning by 100 points.

Despite that, I'll settle for 5th on the night and another 42 point victory.

Medical Room

Newman dislocated this pinky finger in the 3rd quarter, but played out the rest of the match.

Next up

The Swans face an inform Hawks at the MCG, but given their recent record at the MCG, as well as the Hawks, the Swans should have enough to see off the pesky brats.

Tom Mitchell to collect 40 possessions and -200 metres gained.

Sydney Swans
3.57.811.1414.17101
St Kilda Saints
1.23.25.49.559

Goals: Sinclair 5, Franklin 3, Towers, Kennedy, Hewett, Heeney, Rohan, McVeigh

Best: Sinclair, Parker, Hannebery, Grundy, Melican, Hewett, Kennedy, Heeney, Franklin

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia http://theswansblog.com

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