The Sydney Swans NEAFL team has continued its winless start to the season, with an agonising one-point loss to the Aspley Hornets on Saturday afternoon at the SCG.
A team streaked with Academy top-ups and young debutants, fell just short in a gripping final term, full of momentum and lead swings.
Five QBE Sydney Swans Academy players made their NEAFL debut in the curtain-raiser to the Sydney Swans vs North Melbourne AFL game.
Just like in weeks previous, the Swans’ wastefulness in front of goal came back to haunt them, as they wasted several guilt-edge chances in the final minutes of the match.
The young stars looked set to record their first win of the season, having overturned a three-goal margin earlier in the game to lead by nine points with five minutes remaining.
But it wasn’t to be, with Aspley hanging on to record a famous victory against the Swans.
Ellem and Eynaud headlined the Academy top-ups who punched above their weight, but it was the experienced Swans that stood out.
Ellem booted two goals for the Swans, and had a set shot with just a minute left in the match.
Instead of slotting it and putting the Swans ahead by three points, he could only push it wide, with the Swans scoring another point on the run before the final siren sounded.
The Swans and Hornets traded barbs early on, with the Swans asserting early aggression.
The stalemate was finally broken in the 15th minute of the first quarter, when the Swans strung together a great team goal.
Dan Robinson, who was the captain for the day, displayed great composure, firing the ball out to Academy player Nicholas Eynaud, who snapped around his body and slotted a classy goal, his first NEAFL major.
Aspley soon took control of the match, booting three goals straight, with the Swans wayward in front of goal early.
The ball was played on Aspley’s terms, until the Swans put their front foot forward and jammed the ball inside fifty to Darcy Cameron.
He coolly went back and slotted the goal, steadying the Swans, but two late goals to the Hornets extended their lead to 16-points at the first break.
The Hornets had the play early in the second quarter, but through sheer luck, were unable to punish a lacklustre and flat Swans outfit.
The Swans started applying pressure around the ball and forcing the Hornets into mistakes, and it paid off, with the Swans moving the ball from end-to-end, despite the sloppy disposals.
Immense forward half pressure forced the Hornets into a mistake, the ball fell out of a tackle and Hamish Ellem, one of the Academy top-ups, kicked a goal for the Swans, reducing the margin to 11-points.
Both sides applied heavy pressure on the ball and at the contests. Despite great pressure and several chances inside forward fifty, Cameron and Amartey missed their shots.
Predictably, the Hornets worked their way back on top, but like the Swans, were wayward in front of goal, kicking 1.3, before a 50-metre penalty to the Swans allowed Robinson to kick a steadier from inside the goal square.
Sloppy play from the Swans allowed the Hornets to kick the last of the quarter, taking an 18-point lead into half-time.
Ellem kicked his second goal for the Swans, with reward for pressure finally coming their way, as Maguired kicked his first goal for the Swans, reducing the margin to a goal.
Darcy Cameron was influential in the ruck, but couldn’t give the Swans first use often enough, resulting in scrappy contests and stoppages.
Stoddard and McCartin were asserting themselves on the game, while a floating ball inside fifty allowed Domini Soffe to make a contest, beat his man and kick a team lifting goal.
Stoddart provided a real lift for the Swans with a fantastic chase-down tackle late in the quarter.
The Swans continued to miss opportunities to go-ahead, and as always, Aspley punished the Swans inaccuracy in front of goal, booting two majors to stay ahead at the final change.
Trailing by eight points early in the last quarter, Joel Amartey took a great contested mark 45 metres out directly in front but could only push it across the face of goals, just sneaking in for a behind.
The Swans dominated the last quarter, with fantastic pressure across the ground, and Stoddart providing real drive off the half-back flank, but like the rest of his team mates, sprayed a long-range chance.
A 7-point play levelled the scores midway through the final quarter, with the Swans eventually extending their lead to nine points.
The Hornets’ hit back with two goals in two minutes to lead by three points with just over three minutes left.
Youngster Ellem missed a set shot with just over a minute left, while O’Riordan missed a snap from 25 metres out just seconds later, consigning the Swans to their fifth straight loss of the season.
The Swans had their chances in the last quarter, kicking an incredible 2.8, with a lot of chances from high probability zones, while the Hornets didn’t kick a behind for more than two quarters.
Sydney Swans 2.3 4.6 7.9 9.17 (71)
Aspley Hornets 5.1 7.6 9.6 11.6 (72)
D. Robinson 2, H. Ellem 2, J. Amartey, D. Cameron, D. Soffe, H. Maguire, N. Eynaud
D. Robinson, D. Cameron, N. Newman, R. Stoddart, C. O’Riordan
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