A Dan Hannebery masterclass helped the Swans hammer out another ominous performance, dismantling the Saints running game on the way to a convincing 50-point victory on Saturday afternoon.
A superb performance from the out-of-form midfielder, capped off by two fantastic goals, extended the Swans dominance over the Saints and continued their imposing record at Etihad.
The spectre of Owen Wilson has well and truly fled the country, as the Swans have put the Lions, Roos and Saints to the torch in recent weeks. The Saints battled hard and never let the Swans have it easy, but they just weren't good enough.
The Swans rang the changes with Dane Rampe, Gary Rohan and Kurt Tippett returning to the side, in place of McVeigh (hamstring), Sam Naismith (knee) and Harry Marsh (omit).
The Swans were hard it from the first bounce and before the Saints knew it, they were two goals Down. Melican displayed great poise in his first contest with Riewoldt, while Franklin and Rohan imposed themselves on the contest.
The Swans had their first score through Tippett after the Saints turned it over inside the centre square, but all he could manage was a point. Harry Cunningham put one through just a minute later after Kennedy sharked a handball, set Hayward into space and Cunningham didn't disappoint. Hayward himself was on the board a minute later after great pressure from the Swans forced the Saints into another turn over.
The game settled into a stalemate as the Saints worked their way back into the game. Even though the Swans' pressure was superb, the Saints made their own luck. Towers showed good poise at moments, along with Hayward and Smith.
McCartin had a chance to put the Saints first on the board after Grundy backed out of the contest. The Swans were happy to work the ball out of defence, building slowly before racing through the midfield. The Saints were equal to the challenge and shut down the Swans whenever they had space.
The Saints got their first after Buddy rushed in for a contest and got Robberton high. The umpire gave a 50 against Franklin for pushing himself up off Robberton, nothing in that. It was enough for the Saints to get back into the game, scrapping hard across the wing and going to Riewoldt every time.
The Swans countered with a goal of their own just two minutes later. Great play from Newman in the back pocket picked out Lloyd. Hewett played in Nick Smith and Franklin, with the blue boots, flicked the ball to Parker in the centre square, who laced it to Hannebery on the run and the Swans had their 3rd goal of the game. It was against the run of play with the Saints well on top over the last 5 minutes.
The Saints were winning plenty of the ball, well on top in clearances, 11-4 just 15 minutes into the game, but their disposal efficiency was very poor. A couple of sloppy disposals from the Swans opened the door for the Saints, with Lloyd falling into Sinclair's back. And all he could do was push it wide.
Typically poor disposal from the Saints continued to provide chances to the Swans, but they failed to capitalise. Before long though, the Saints had their 2nd on the board. A long ball of half-back dribbled into the forward line, with Mills and Newnes both attacking the ball side on. Mills bounced back up, but Newnes sat out the rest of the game, while Gresham pounced on the loose ball and put it through.
The Saints were in front just moments later through a Nick Riewoldt snap, after another clearance, another long kick to Riewoldt, and another spill to the front of the contest.
Kurt Tippet and Dan Hannebery combined to put the Swans 6 points in front before quarter time. Kurt Tippett kicked a point from a slight angle, 40m out, while Hannebery nailed a 50m bomb to put the Swans up.
The 2nd started where the 1st finished off, with the Saints winning the first clearance and goal through Gresham, just 48 seconds in. The Saints had plenty of all in their forward half, but the Swans were on top in their defence, clearing the ball with ease.
Towers and Heeney combined with Cunningham to set up Hannebery with a shot on goal, 45m out on a slight angle. It would have been his 3rd, but instead it slid off the side of his boot on the full. He immediately made amends, winning a holding the ball. He went long and Kennedy roved off Tippett's hands to put the Swans back in front.
Cunningham put through his 2nd of the game from 50m to extend the Swans lead to 12 points, and the Swans were turning the screws. The pressure was immense across the field and the Saints were turning it over.
Sam Reid put through his 1st of the game after a Sam Gilbert free, mounting the pressure on the Saints and extending the Swans' lead. Hayward was proving a fantastic leading target, and an effective contributor on the wing.
The Swans' work rate was superb and the pressure was fantastic. The Saints were rushing it across the backline, playing on at every chance and overusing it through hands. The Swans swarmed and continually forced turn overs and the Saints had no answers. Seb Ross was getting a lot of the ball, but was doing absolutely nothing with it, and Jack Stevens was well down.
Great pressure from the Swans kept the ball locked in their forward half of the ground, but the Saints were able to kick one against the run of play. Mills' handball missed its target and the Saints ran through the middle. Membrey marked and played on, putting through his first and the Saints' 2nd of the game. The Swans finished the half 11 points up.
The Swans made the most of their dominance in the 3rd quarter. Where they failed to punish the Saints on the scoreboard early in the match, they made the most of their chances and put the Saints to the Sword.
Tippett marked it inside 50 and dished off to Sinclair for the Swans' first shot of the half. Had he turned around, he had Franklin and Reid open in the goal square, and the best he could manage was a behind.
The Saints disposal efficiency fell in a heap, routinely picking out Swans across the field by hand and foot, while Parker, Hannebery and Kennedy won the ball at will. Towers won his own ball on the forward flank, gave it off to Jones and collected it back to snap his first goal of the game. It was great play and a superb individual effort from the maligned midfielder.
Great pressure from Rohan tackled Carlisle over the boundary when it looked like he was going to rush it behind easily. He almost kept it in, but the Saints rushed it over. While Rohan wasn't getting a lot of the ball, he was stacking on the pressure acts and laying tackles.
The Swans worked it well off half back, with Jones and Reid combining to put Mills into space. He drilled a superb pass into Franklin, who beat the inexperienced defender and took an easy chest mark. All he could do was push it left and extend the lead to 19.
Rohan took a great lead up mark on the forward 50 and dished off to Franklin, threatening at the back 65m out from goal. Great pressure from the Swans kept the ball locked in their forward 50, with the Saints dump kicking it to all parts. For all their pressure and hard work, the Swans were just 20 points in front. Rohan dropped another sitter inside 50, but was immediately up off the ground and stuck into the next contest.
Even when the Saints went forward, they had no easy outs or targets. Finally, Franklin outworked his opponent 15m out from goal, took an easy mark and drilled it from 5m out. He's the only player I've ever seen that's as likely to kick a goal from 8 or 80 metres out.
The Saints got one back from the centre bounce, but once again the Swans forced the ball into their forward half and fantastic forward half pressure prevented them from bringing the ball out. Rohan capitalised from another turn over to put through his first of the game and cap off a great 3rd quarter, full of run and pressure. It was a great goal and the entire team came across to congratulate him.
It was certainly a game based on turn overs, with the Swans scoring 59 of 68 points of the game from turn overs, with the Saints scoring 40 of 47 the same way. Even though the Saints lead in tackles and clearances, their disposal efficiency was atrocious and they just weren't as clean, or working as hard as the Swans with the ball.
Hewett best emphasised the Swans immense pressure, with two smothers in 20 seconds. The pressure was telling, with Parker kicking the ball out of the air from the ball-up, landing fortuitously in Tippett's mitts. In the pocket, on a tight angle, he slotted it straight through the middle for this 2nd of the game, extending the Swans lead to 27 points.
Rohan dropped another sitter just outside the goal square with the sun in his eyes from a Reid set shot, Newman had no such problems, after combining well with Franklin, dodged three tackles and drilled it from 50 metres out. It was another fantastic solo effort from the young Malceski-clone.
The Swans went into the final break 33 points up and well on top. Franklin exploded in the last quarter, kicking three superb goals. Hewett got their first of the quarter another horrible Saints turn over, Carlisle kicking it straight to Papley. Papley went long to the goal square, and Hewett ran onto it, banging it home.
The Saints' work rate had visibly dropped off, while the Swans continued to harass and chase across the field. Kennedy and Hannebery combined to hit up Franklin on the lead, 45m out. This time, he put it through the goals, pushing the Swans lead past 7 goals. A bit of handbags and man cuddles after the goal was kicked summed up the Saints performance.
The Saints got one back through Riewoldt after a bit of a gift from the umpire, but the Swans answered back immediately through Papley, roving off Franklins' dropped mark. Kennedy, Jones, Parker and Franklin were all involved in the goal.
Both sides traded points for the next 5 minutes as the Swans looked to extend their lead, even though the Saints had visibly dropped off. Their manic work rate and tackle pressure was long gone, as they continued to struggle to get it out of their defensive half of the ground. Tippett had another set shot on goal directly in front, but all he could do was kick another behind.
Kennedy went long forward from another contest, after Towers won the initial ball. It went past Franklin and bobbled through the air. You can't palm balls down these days, so Hannebery went the double fist into Franklin's path, and he ran into to the 50 and smashed home another goal. It was turning into Buddy's big day out, but he wasn't finished just yet.
The Saints got one back through McCartin, who was having a dog of a day up until that point, well beaten by Grundy. But guess what, Franklin thought he could do one even better. Beats the tackler, off one step, BANG! What a goal. Seb Ross was visibly impressed after the goal with his handbags, and gave away a free.
The Swans possessed the ball across the ground after the free, but the Swans worked it inside 50, and after another turn over, Papley put through his 2nd of the game from 45 metres out. The Saints got one back through Riewoldt after the siren for good measure.
Harry Cunningham went off in the 3rd quarter with a foot injury and didn't return to the field.
Good old grudge match next weekend with the Swans taking on the dreary Hawks. They'd turned their poor start of the season around with 3 wins from their previous 4 matches, but once again find themselves firmly entrenched in the bottom 4 after hilariously dropping a 43 point lead to the Pies on Saturday night. Scored just 15 points for the rest of the match when they lead by that margin.
Franklin 4, Hannebery 2, Papley 2, Cunningham 2, Towers, Reid, Kennedy, Tippett, Hayward, Newman, Hewett, Rohan
Hannebery, Lloyd, Kennedy, Newman, Papley, Franklin, Mills, Smith
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