Longmire: We found a way to win

The Swans on Saturday afternoon turned around a dreadful first half into a thrilling 7-point win over the rallying Bulldogs.

Fresh of two successive beltings, the Bulldogs returned to form against the Bombers in round 3, and pushed the Swans all the way in round 4.

Their possession machine was unstoppable early on, and they capitalized on the Swans mistakes, racing to a 22-point lead early in the second quarter.

The Swans got stuck in, ground out the rest of the quarter and regrouped at half-time.

They breathed fire at the start of the second half and kicked the opening four goals of the third quarter, making it six in a row, and firmly swinging the match in their favour.

The Bulldogs fought them all the way, but a magnificent running goal by Swans forward Oliver Florent with just 23 seconds left in the match, put the Swans out of reach.

Bulldogs forward Josh Dunkley had plenty of moments to put the Bulldogs in control of the match, none more important than the dropped mark in the goal square with just 3 minutes left.

Swans coach Longmire praised his sides’ defensive efforts in the last quarter.

“Generally, they did a pretty good job,” Longmire said. “We made a few mistakes there, but generally they did a pretty good job.

“We forced them out at different times, particularly in the last 5 minutes, with a couple of decent spoils, and they had the momentum and were looking to score.”

“A couple of big strong efforts were able to keep them out.”

The win certainly wasn’t pretty with the Swans forced to dig deep and grind out the result.

Despite kicking away early in the third and fourth quarters, the Bulldogs responded and fought back, taking it right down to the wire.

The Bulldogs dominated the first-half, but the Swans hung tough and hit the scoreboard, with Parker and Heeney kicking the last two of the half, trailing by just 10 points at half-time.

Longmire acknowledged that something had to change but was nonetheless proud of the way his players ground out the result.

“I thought the Doggies played pretty well and I didn't think we were as good as what we should have been,” Longmire said.

“We got caught up the turnover game early in the game and got beaten at that which we're normally pretty strong at.

“Fortunately at half-time we were able to regroup. We didn't have many inside 50s at half-time, just a handful and we needed to get the momentum back our way, and do it pretty quickly and sometimes you've just got to find a way to win.

“To our players credit we found a way to win, even though the stats clearly - almost all of them - were in the Dogs favour.”

Despite trailing the Bulldogs on the scoresheet in the first half, and certainly in most statistical categories – the inside 50s (60-42), the Swans simply found a way to win in the second half.

Longmire admitted the Swans were lucky to win in the end, given the Bulldogs missed opportunities inside 50.

“I don't think there was one thing, we just found a way in the end,” Longmire said.

“They had more scoring shots and there's a few of those things that you look at and think we were a bit fortunate with; the scoring shots for instance and the inside 50 differential.

“We've won before with an inside 50 differential and being down on that and finding a way. I think that's what it was in the end, (we) just found a way to win it and we did that.”

Jack Macrae had a big first half for the Bulldogs and was one of the main reasons why the Bulldogs dominated possession.

Longmire admitted that the Swans had to play tighter on him and respect him as a really good player.

“We talked about it at half-time,” Longmire said. “Clearly he had a big first half and we did a couple of things in the third term, but more importantly we just understood and respected what he was doing.

“We were beaten in that area of the ground with the mids (sic), and just changed it a little with what we were doing.

“But mainly the players were able to respect the fact that he's a really good player and he was playing well.”

Florent kicked the winner with just seconds left in the match, reminiscent of Papley’s goal against Adelaide last season.

He took off once he marked the ball, with 6-gamer ruckman Tim English valiantly chasing him throughout the forward line, forcing the youngster to kick it from 50m.

Longmire was delighted with the 19-year-old’s composure, but equally impressed with English’s efforts.

“It was good to see him kick it the young kid,” Longmire said. “Sometimes it's great as a young bloke isn't it, you don't have any fear, you just go about it and what will be will be.

“That's what good about him. I just spoke to him then, he said ‘what's the problem, I went back and kicked it’.

“I tell you English can run, Ollie has got some wheels and for a big bloke to chase like he did, he can really move.”

While Longmire was happy with the goal it was wasn’t his preference that Florent play on, preferring the player to kick the ball over the mark.

“That might have been a preference at that particular time (not playing on),” Longmire said.

“I had an old coach that would say live by the sword, die by the sword and we went for it and kicked it, and we'll take that as well”

The Swans finally regained Sam Reid last week against the Giants after missing the opening two rounds, but with his quad injury ruling him out until the bye, the Swans were forced into another forward line shuffle.

This time it was Towers playing at centre-half forward and Aliir pinch hitting in defence and the forward line.

Unconventional forward set ups might be the future for the Swans forward line, coach Longmire admitted.

“We've had a bit of an unsettled forward line, we had that a bit at times last year as well,” Longmire said.

“We lost two forwards this week, so we'll continue to try to work for that best look forward of the ball, and sometimes it might look a little unconventional, and that's ok, we'll just keep working to try and get that mix that works the best, and it might not be the same each week.”

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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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