You know at the footy, when you buy a bucket of hot chips? You stand in the queue with that sense of anticipation and pleasure. Then after paying for the (expensive) chips, you find while some of them are great - hot and crispy - others don’t live up to expectations, one chip is good but has a nasty burnt bit on the end and several are just plain yukky - limp and undercooked. It leaves you feeling disappointed.
This was how it was after last the Sydney Swans’ 26-point loss to Richmond at Etihad Stadium last night.
Bear with me on this bucket of chips analogy. Great: Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, George Hewett. Did not live up to expectations: Aliir Aliir, Dan Hannebery, James Rose. Burnt chip: Lance Franklin. Yukky: Gary Rohan, Kieren Jack.
The Swans essentially had only 17 good chips in last night’s bucket, with Isaac Heeney receiving an early head knock and going off in the third quarter, and Rohan, Jack, Rose and Hannebery having no influence whatsoever on the game.
Franklin’s four goals were offset by the stupidity of his ill-discipline on Tigers defender Alex Rance, giving away a free when Callum Sinclair had a shot on goal.
On this basis you could argue the Swans did well to only be beaten by 26 points to the reigning premiers. Imagine what they could do with 22 contributors!
Sydney came out with the right attitude to this one versus two match and in fact showed patches of real brilliance, with outstanding ball movement, fierce tackling and individual showstoppers like Ben Ronke’s one-handed pick-up, sprint and goal to open proceedings.
However, they lacked composure in parts, turned the ball over and were punished by Richmond’s goal-scoring and then an inability to capitalise when they won the ball themselves.
Ronke kicked the first two goals of the game but Richmond rallied and after taking the lead 26 minutes into the first quarter, were never headed. At one point the Swans gave up five straight goals but came back late in the third and early in the fourth, to remarkably be just four points behind and rallying for a final surge.
The Tigers, led magnificently by Jack Riewoldt, with three goals and 16 marks, hammered home three more goals and their relentless defensive pressure did not allow the visitors to score again.
Sydney’s captain Kennedy did everything in his power to win the game out of the middle, playing arguably his best game of the year with 37 possessions, eight clearances and nine tackles.
Hewett, surely now one of the AFL’s premier taggers, nullified 2017 Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin and had a game-high 10 clearances and laid seven tackles. Another top performance.
Parker, with two goals and 23 possessions was always dangerous, while Lloyd (33 possessions) was creative through the middle but not always accurate with his delivery.
Sydney coach John Longmire, never one to get too carried away either in victory in defeat, saw positives to take away for next time
"We were a kick down at the 10-minute mark of the last quarter, so we'll put it into perspective," Longmire said.
"We would have liked to have won, no doubt about that. But we'll put it in perspective as we normally do and weigh up the good and bad and see what we can do better next time. I thought our intent and our tackle pressure was pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Nick Vlaustin, who was one of Richmond’s best performers, will almost certainly be having a few weeks off after elbowing Parker in the head in the third quarter, giving the Sydney player an instant black eye.
The match lowlight was the gruesome broken ankle suffered by Richmond defender Reece Conca. Rohan, who of course has been in this situation himself, had an abysmal match but was one of many concerned players to go over to Conca and wish him well as he was carried off the field.
It’s another Thursday night match, but this time on home turf at the SCG, against Geelong. The Swans will be hoping to bring another A-class effort to down the Cats, as they did at home before the bye (when they defeated then-ladder leader West Coast).
RICHMOND 6.1 7.2 11.5 14.9 (93)
SYDNEY 3.1 5.1 10.1 11.1 (67)
Sydney: Franklin 4, Ronke 2, Florent 2, Parker 2, Hayward
Sydney: Kennedy, Hewett, Parker, Lloyd, Franklin
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