Talking points: Round 3, 2019

We take a look at some of the talking points from the Swans' Round 3 breakthrough win against Carlton at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

1: Heeney is still one the best young talents in the league
Isaac Heeney exploded onto the AFL scene as a fresh faced, blonde haired bombshell in Round 1, 2015 against Essendon, picking up 16 disposals - 8 contested, and laying 7 tackles. Since then, he's battled numerous injuries and almost missed the start of the 2019 season, with an ankle injury sustained in the final JLT game.

Like Lance Franklin last year, coach John Longmire said that Heeney has barely been able to train in the lead up to the first two rounds of football. A solid week on the track paid dividends, with Heeney ripping the Carlton midfield and defence to pieces, finishing with 26 disposals and 8 marks to go with his 4-goal haul.

It was arguably his best game of his fledgling career, and the Swans will need more of the same with Dan Hannebery plying his trade at St Kilda, and the numbers looking a little thin.

2: Jones needs to play in the midfield
Zak Jones has been one of the break-out performers for the Swans in their revamped midfield this season, averaging 26 possession and 6 clearances a game. In the past, he's been criticised for his poise and decision making, often running into contests before the team is set up for him to deliver the ball.

Against Carlton, his decision making was on point, forming a formidable duo with captain Josh Kennedy, finishing with 31 disposals and 7 clearances each. Known more for his defensive play earlier in his career, and the occasional swing into midfield or the wing, Jones has taken his outside game to another level this season, even adding inside grunt to his repertoire.

He was rewarded in the AFLCA Coaches votes, receiving 6 votes behind Isaac Heeney (10) and Patrick Cripps (8).

3: McVeigh's loss will hurt more than we know
Jarrad McVeigh's defiance of father time finally caught up with him on Saturday afternoon, straining his quad while kicking a ball out of defence in the last quarter. McVeigh's importance to the team cannot be overstated. He's guided a young and inexperienced outfit with aplomb. His absences have always been noticeable, losing matches in 2018 when he was absent from the team.

He'll miss the next two months of football, with a return after the bye the most likely outcome. With Sam Reid missing an entire season of football off the back of a serious quad strain, and given McVeigh's age and recent injury record, this may well have been the last time we see the stalwart pull on the red and white.

4: Tom McCartin is an even better centre-half back than forward
This was definitely one of the coaching moves that John Longmire pulled from the proverbial hat. It was as unexpected as salt and caramel making a delicious combination in smooth, silky ice cream. This kid can play, not just as a forward, but with a sample size of 1 game, in defence too.

There was a very specific Ted Richards feel about his game on Saturday, lacking the physical strength that bigger centre-half back players have, but having the pace and closing speed to impact contests and bring the ball to ground.

One of his best plays was deep in the last quarter, when he was beaten by his opponent. He managed to recover fast enough to chase down the player who received the handball and tackle him over the boundary line. It was in stark contrast to some of the other Swans defenders, who've lacked the pace, positioning and reading of the play to pull off the same move.

5: Lance Franklin doesn't need to kick a bag for the Swans to win
Liam Jones, the victim of Lance Franklin's 10-goal haul in Round 23, 2017, showed that he's come a long way in a little over a year. While he copped an absolute hiding that night, his strangling performance on one of the elite forwards of the competition gave the Blues faithful something to cheer about.

Franklin's two goals in the first half was about the only impact he had on the match, with his last major involvement coming late in the last quarter, assisting Tom Papley's goal with a chain of dribble kicks that fortuitously landed in the path of Papley.

With 9 score involvements, 1 goal assists and 2 goals from 12 disposals, the big man had the impact the Swans really needed, even if he didn't do much scoreboard damage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG_cuANS56o

6: Swans do it the hard way
Despite comfortably winning the disposal count by 107, the Swans just managed to win the contested possession count 152-148, while losing the clearance count 38-43 (11-16 centre clearances). They had to withstand a barrage of Carlton pressure throughout the fourth quarter, down to two rotations on the bench, while the Blues wasted numerous opportunities.

With the game still in the balance and 5 minutes left on the clock, Isaac Heeney was awarded a contentious free kick directly in front of goal. His fourth goal sealed the win for the Swans, their first of the season, consigning the Blues to their third straight loss.

With 54 inside 50s a piece, leading the tackle count 70-52 and recording four more tackles inside 50 (14-10), the Blues' desperate defence was a thorn in the Swans side. Jones' performance on Franklin was a particular highlight and one of the reasons they were still in with a chance late in the fourth quarter.

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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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