We take a look at some of the talking points from the Swans' round 6 win against the Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
1. No Buddy, no worries
The Swans were as good as forced to go short against the Cats, with Sam Reid, Lance Franklin and Sam Naismith missing through injury, with Gary Rohan (189cm) their tallest forward.
Their lack of a traditional tall marking target made little difference in the end, with the Swans controlling the ball on the outside, and their small forward line applying immense pressure.
Averaging 8.4 tackles in their first half across the opening five rounds, they laid nine in the first quarter alone.
2. King Kennedy is back in town
After a lean fortnight, Sydney Swans captain Josh Kennedy returned to form in emphatic fashion, singlehandedly destroying the Geelong midfield in the last quarter, with six clearances, including three from the centre, and 13 possessions.
From late in the third quarter to midway through the fourth, the Swans had 10 consecutive centre clearances.
It came after a fortnight of 16 and 13 disposals and came as Callum Sinclair dominated in the ruck against Rhys Stanley.
3. Plan A, Plan B, what’s it all about
If there was ever a knock on Swans coach John Longmire, it has been his inflexibility, often touted as having ‘no plan b’.
But, as we saw against Geelong on Saturday afternoon, plan a is plan b.
Without tall targets, giving up an average of four centimetres per player across the ground, the Swans were forced to go small and contested.
They made it work and ran home with seven last quarter goals.
Sam Reid is often thrown back in defence, but as Longmire made clear in his press conference, and Kennedy after the match, manning up their loose is as good as plan b.
4. Another Swans fortress? Geelong’s home ground advantage gone
Often touted as the hardest road trip in the AFL, the Cats had won 18 of their previous 20 matches at Kardinia Park – both of those losses were against the Swans.
The Swans have now made it three in a row at the Cats fortress, and four since 2011, and are the only side to beat the Cats at GMHBA Stadium since round 12, 2015.
The Swans delivered a 38-point turn-around from midway through the third quarter, and are the only side since West Coast in round 10, 2006, to beat the Cats at their home ground after trailing at half time.
The Swans have won four of their last five against the Cats and lead the head-to-head eight-to-six since 2011.
5. Cats tall timber fail to fire
Big Cat Tom Hawkins’ return from back spasms brought an impressive aerial display, taking four contested marks, and finished the match with two goals.
Hawkins provided Geelong a target up forward, but his kicking let him down, spraying multiple chances, including one on the full.
Rhys Stanley and Esva Ratugolea could do little to stop Callum Sinclair in the ruck once he got on top and did little to trouble the scorers.
Callum Sinclair shoulders the load
Callum Sinclair was the sole ruckman for the Swans, with utility Robbie Fox returning to the side as his backup.
Sinclair dominated the first quarter with 13 hit-outs and a game-high nine disposals but was less influential in the second and third quarters, after receiving treatment for a cut and spending time on the bench.
Geelong, led by Stanley, worked their way back into the match, but as the Swans were hanging on the ropes, Sinclair stepped up big time.
He took three crucial contested marks in the last quarter, finished the match with 39 hit-outs, 18 disposals, 14 contested, and four clearances.
He rucked the entire last quarter and was one of the Swans to make a significant difference in the result.
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