We take a look at some of the talking points from the Swans' round 1 loss to the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
1. Dogs have found their bark
As the saying goes, a week is a long time in football, but for the Bulldogs, 2018 was a long, hard slog. They finished 13th with 8 wins, while the Swans finished 6th with 14 wins and played finals.
The Dogs lost players in the off-season, missed Tom Liberatore for large parts of 2018 and seemingly couldn't put it together all at once. Their fairytale premiership was a distant memory, with fans already looking to the future.
They proved last night that they're still not be to trifled with, smashing the Swans at their own game. Marcus Bontompelli, Mitch Wallis, Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae and Lachie Hunter dominated the first half, registering 5 more inside 50s, 11 more contested possessions, 4 more clearances and 16 more inside 50s.
2. Swans at sea with new 6-6-6 rule
The Achilles of the Swans has long been suggested to be its defence, with slow, undersized and old players - so the critics say. Year after year, they prove the pundits and the fans wrong, keeping teams to near record-low scoring numbers. Not so last season and it looks as though it's going to be more of the same this year.
When the Bulldogs broke out of midfield fast, the Swans defenders who typically play from behind, were exposed. Lewis Melican in particular struggled to compete, giving away numerous free kicks that lead to goals. Heath Grundy spent time as a forward and in the ruck to give Callum Sinclair a chop-out, with Aliir playing on Schache and Naughton, who was giving Melican all sorts of problems.
3. Swans rue lacklustre first half
The Swans looked like they were about to hit 2019 with a bang, getting the first goal of the game inside the opening minutes courtesy of an Isaac Heeney special.
He had a chance just a minute later but in what was more the story of the night, kicked it out on the full. After scoring the first goal and registering the first two inside 50s, the Swans conceded 6.8 (44) to 0.5 (5) and 33-15 inside 50s.
The Bulldogs were smashing the Swans at the contest too, with 11 more contested possessions but more importantly, leading 12-4 in forward-half clearances.
4. Isaac Heeney back-to-back Mark of the Year
Isaac Heeney took to the clouds again as he plucked the ball from the sky in what will surely be a finalist in the JLT Mark of the Year competition. His ride, not quite as high as last year, lead to the Swans first and only goal of the first half on Saturday night.
5. Swans lack midfield contest
The Western Bulldogs won the contested possession count 151-125 and also the clearances 41-32 in a disappointing night for the Swans.
In a poor first half from the Swans they managed just one goal, coming in the first two minutes of the match, and were soundly beaten around the ball. After trailing by 40 points early in the third quarter, they kicked 7 of the next 8 goals to cut the margin back to 4 points.
Callum Sinclair dominated the ruck with 44 hit outs, 13 to advantage, but the Swans midfield brigade couldn't capitalise on the advantage.
6. Buddy's late game brain fade
With only a few minutes left in the game, and the Swans trailing by 5 points, the Swans superstar forward Lance Franklin completed a terrific contested mark deep inside the forward 50.
On an angle that would normally suit him, Franklin spent his allotted 30 seconds tugging at his socks, before the umpire called play on. Springing into action, he dodged the tackler before firing an acute angled shot that look destined for the goals that slammed into the right goal post.
Zak Jones blasted their last scoring chance wide a minute later, but the Swans would rue their missed opportunities, as the Bulldogs booted the next two goals in a minute moments later to seal the win.
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