NEAFL Grand final report: Third time unlucky as Swans fall agonisingly short

The Brisbane Lions pulled off an astounding grand final win on Saturday night, while consigning the Swans to their third NEAFL grand final defeat in four seasons.

The Queenslanders prevailed in arguably the match of the season, the lead changing throughout the match with both teams having chances to seal victory a pulsating final quarter.

The Swans will be left to rue their prolificacy in front of goal, recording an amazing 9 behinds from 12 scoring shots in the last quarter, along with a number of shots on the full.

Coach Rhyce Shaw said that the Swans lacked the effort required to win the game.

“I certainly believe Brisbane were the better team on the day,” he said.

“We just didn’t bring our ‘A-game’. For three quarters we really battled. We just didn’t have the effort and energy that’s required on these days.

“Until the last quarter, we really didn’t have a sniff, to be honest. I thought Brisbane controlled the game comprehensively for most of it.

“The last quarter we started to bring some effort and some pressure, but we had 12 scoring shots and only kicked three goals. That pretty much sums it up.”

After trailing by 20 points at three quarter time, the Swans threw everything - including the kitchen sink - at the Lions, yet couldn't stick the ball between the big sticks at the end.

Jordan Foote and Dan Robinson had a number of chances in front of goals in the last quarter, yet could only score behinds on a cold, greasy night.

The midfield battle was key to victory, with Swans big man Kurt Tippett returning to the NEAFL team for the decider, with Sam Naismith playing in the elimination final.

It was the Lions who had the advantage in the early moments of the match, dominating not only the midfield, but the ruck contests as well.

The Swans were peppering the goals, but could only manage behinds, and as always, good sides will eventually make you pay.

The Lions had the first goal of the game 17 minutes in, with a highly contentious Aliir Aliir 50m penalty giving them a shot from in front.

Two minutes later the Lions added to their total, leading 13-4 with the Swans constantly squandering chances.

5 minutes later the Swans finally had their first on the board through Jordan Dawson, waking up the local crowd, before Swans Academy player Sam Wicks booted their 2nd and put the Swans in front.

The play ebbed and flowed with Archie Smith regularly giving the Lions first use out of the clinches, while the Swans struggled to cope with the slippery conditions.

Looking far from their clinical self, the Swans narrowly lead at the first change by 4 behinds.

Both sides continued to struggle with the conditions after the first break, but it was Brisbane who broke the deadlock with the first two goals of the term.

The Swans hit back and looked to take a lead into the main break, but the Lions instant reply kept their noses in front.

The Lions finally found a way to goal in the third quarter as they won ran roughshod over the beleaguered Swans.

Magnetic names were thrown in the air, and they played where they landed, with Aliir tried as a forward, Alex Johnson playing virtually everywhere but the ruck and Edwards no longer playing full forward.

Nothing worked as the Lions kicked away with the Swans looking well and truly rattled, but a late goal pegged the Lions back to 20 points.

Dawson kicked his fourth of the match and the start of the final quarter, springing the local crowd into action.

It looked as though heartbreak would follow when Corey Lyons kicked his side back out to 20 points, but a pulsating 15 minutes ensued, with both teams having chances to seal the match.

Ben Ronkey replied with a goal and the Swans were well on top, dominating possession and keeping the ball virtually locked in their forward half.

Another goal to Colin O'Riordon brought the crowd to its feet, with the Swans clawing their way back under a goal with under 10 minutes left.

The Swans weren't finished, with late chances to Foote, Robinson and Florent all going wide, before the Lions answered back with two behinds of their own.

Beams had his own set shot chance to seal the match, but ate up valuable seconds before pushing his shot wide.

Sam Murray provided his trade mark dash with a last-ditched effort, beating an opponent on the Brewongle Stand flank before linking up with Michael Talia who let fly to centre-half forward.

Brisbane defender Mathew Eagles stood in the way and took his game-high 11th mark of the match, the final siren sounding seconds after.

First year players Will Hayward and Oliver Florent played well, with defenders Harry Marsh and Jeremy Laidler among the best.

Despite losing the match, Shaw was proud of the progress the Swans have made.

“I’m really proud of the program we’ve set up, and how we are developing our players, the standards that we keep and what’s expected, and I think that drives us to get to these points (Grand Finals),” he said.

“We had another nine draftees this year, so the group is really different. There are guys from last year but they are different they are young.

“I can’t put a finger on it (losses) but I’m really proud of how we go about it, and to reach these finals year-in, year-out is a really great effort – but we do need to get over the line in one of them.”

“We’ve had 13 debutants in the last two years, and we consider ourselves a top four (AFL) side. We didn’t get there this year but we certainly one of the form sides in the AFL again,” he said.

“For us to keep developing and blooding these guys, and bringing them into the system and making sure they know the standards and expectations, that’s been a really big positive for us.

“That’s what the whole thing is about. We want the whole club to be successful, and obviously we are, but (on Saturday night) Brisbane were way too good for us.”

Sydney Swans
Brisbane Lions

Goals: J Dawson 4, T Pink 2, S Wicks, C O’Riordan, S Edwards, B Ronke

Best: J Dawson, H Marsh, J Laidler, T Pink, O Florent

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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

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