Longmire: We were well beaten in the midfield

Sydney Swans coach John Longmire addressed the media on Monday ahead of their Round 2 clash against Adelaide on Friday night.

Despite trailing by 40-points early in the third quarter, the Swans mounted a spirited fightback, coming within 4 points midway through the last quarter.

Two quick goals by the Bulldogs ended the contest, eventually running out 17-point winners.

While there were plenty of winners around the ground for the Western Bulldogs, the Swans found few and far between, with Jake Lloyd (35 disposals), Callum Sinclair (44 hit outs, 13 to advantage) and captain Josh Kennedy (22 disposals, 7 tackles) among their best.

Coach John Longmire was disappointed with the Swans' ability to win and transition the ball throughout the night.

"We got well beaten in our midfield," Longmire said.

"Between the arcs we were really poor at winning the ball and really average in transition.

"The transition side that we pride ourselves on, being able to win the ball in those scramble situations through the midfield between the arcs, we were very poor at.

"The main element was just getting our hands on it around the footy up in the midfield area between the arcs.

"Off the back of that your ball movement gets better

Trailing at half-time by 16 inside 50s, 4 clearances and 9 contested possessions, the Swans matched the Bulldogs intensity in the third quarter, before blasting four quick goals early in the fourth.

Despite the scoreline pressure, the Bulldogs won 35 more scramble ground balls between the arcs than the Swans, giving their forwards more use with 21 more inside 50s.

Franklin's missed opportunity midway through the fourth quarter was followed by a running shot on goal by Zak Jones, either of which would have put the Swans in front.

Longmire said that the Swans have to work better to win the contested balls, to give their forwards more opportunities, and take the pressure off the defenders.

"The basics of the game, getting your hand on it when the balls in a scramble situation, (we were) minus 35 in ground balls between the arcs," Longmire said.

"They beat us handsomely in that area.

"What is does is it doesn't give you the opportunities to go forward when you're getting beaten so badly, in that ground ball area, and it puts pressure on your defenders.

Despite the thrilling fightback, the Swans had two clear cut chances to kick goals in the opening 10 minutes through Isaac Heeney.

Heeney launched himself at a high ball in the first two minutes of the match, taking an early contender for the JLT Mark of the Year, before cooly converting the set shot.

All he could do with his second shot minutes later, off the back of a terrific contested mark in the forward pocket, was kick it out of bounds on the full, snapping across his body.

For the next hour, the Bulldogs dominated the game, opening up a game-high lead of 40 points, before running out 17-point victors.

Longmire expected his side to be better and harder at the ball than they were on Saturday night, especially after their quick start.

"We played well for probably the first 10 minutes of the game," Longmire said.

"We got out of the blocks and played well for the first 5 to 10 minutes.

"Then the last quarter showed us what we can do, but unfortunately you just can't win games of football with 40 minutes of football.

"We've got to able to be better at that, and particularly the basics of the game and just getting our hand on the footy, being able to give ourselves an opportunity.

"We were just sort-of lacking in that area for most of the game.

"We just have to be better at it for longer."

While the new AFL rule changes came in for criticism during the pre-season, especially with several 100 metre penalties paid, the impact on the game was negligible.

Several quick clearances and inside 50s lead to scoring opportunities, that both sides converted.

Longmire said that it was more the same, and while everyone expects the changes to revolutionise the game, the basics don't change, it was just as case of the Swans being too slow to react.

"We've adjusted as all teams have, but the basics of just getting the ground ball from midfield stoppages hasn't changed," Longmire said.

"Ball-ups and boundary throw ins are exactly the same as they were last year.

"We just got on to it very slowly in that part of the ground.

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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 http://theswansblog.com

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