Talking points: Round 9, 2019

We take a look at some of the talking points from the Swans' thrilling round 9 win against North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena on Saturday night.

1: Callum 'Chief' Sinclair gives Goldstein a taste of his own medicine
It's no small feat for a forward-cum-ruckman to match it with the best, but to give Todd Goldstein a bath in the second quarter was extraordinary. Sinclair's been down on form, fitness and has looked well off the boil for the last month, ever since he suffered a bout of flu.

It looked like those shackles had well and truly been thrown off on Saturday night, taking it up to one of the former premier rucks of the competition and beating him when it mattered most. The contest was close all match, with Goldstein registering just 6 more hit outs, but it was the second quarter where Sinclair did the damage.

He narrowly beat Goldstein with 11-to-10 hit outs, but it was his 6 hit outs to advantage that allowed the Swans - and George Hewett in particular - to dominate the clearances, winning 9 of 14 - including eight-to-two centre clearances, to record 4.0.24 from clearances to 0.1.1.

2: Do the Swans need to bring a step ladder against the Pies?
The last time the Swans played Collingwood, a desperate Tom McCartin toe-poke was the difference between the two sides. Alex Johnson finally made his AFL comeback, and played superbly on Mason Cox, but it was the American that threatened to turned the game on its head in the last quarter.

The Swans are without plenty of experience for this one, Dan Hannebery, Alex Johnson, Nic Newman and Gary Rohan are no longer at the club, while veterans Kieren Jack, Heath Grundy, Jarrad McVeigh, Josh Kennedy and Lance Franklin are missing through injury.

But where there's crisis, there's always opportunity, and the Swans defence have grasped it with both hands, in particular Aliir Aliir. The electric defender has been rock solid in defence all season, not just as an intercept defender, but doing it just as well in the contests. Aliir may be just the player the Swans need to take the American Giant.

3: Consistency... can the Swans retain it?
It was the catch-cry of the faithful for the first 7 weeks of the season. Coach John Longmire went as far as to suggest that the Swans were in a 'refresh' year, and consistency from week-to-week, or even quarter-to-quarter may be too much to ask. His public prodding appears to have had the same affect as a cattle prod up a sheep's bum, spurring the Swans into action. Two quality performances later, the Swans' 1-6 start, as dreadful as it was, is almost a distant memory. While they haven't blasted away their opponents over the last two weeks, it's been an eye-opening experience for the young and inexperienced Swans.

4: Hold the Door son, Jordan's got this
Jordan Dawson, dropped earlier this year, was gifted a reprieve in what looked like possibly his last big chance to impress, before his contract ran out at the end of the year. What he's been able to do since Round 3 has been nothing short of stunning for a player with just 13 games experience.

The 22-year-old kicked one goal against North Melbourne - his 8th of the season, and finished with 24 disposals - 11 contested. It's been less about his scoring prowess in recent weeks, and more of his ability to fill gaps the Swans desperately need filling. He's played as a spare in defence, full back, centre-half back and on the back flank, performing admirably every time. His 7 marks - 2 contested and 2 intercepted was the highlight on Saturday night, especially against a ferocious North Melbourne attack. It's great to see another talent the Swans have taken the time to develop in the NEAFL make the transition to AFL Football.

5: The Swans forward line is doing OK without Franklin
The biggest fear Sydney Swans supporters have is what happens when Franklin is missing. It's the same quandary that Hawthorn faced during the 2012 and 2013 season, but they somehow found a way. The fact that the Swans' winning record without Franklin in their side since 2014 is higher than with him in it, speaks volumes for the way his replacements have performed.

While his replacements have often been Kurt Tippett and Sam Reid, it's two 19-year-olds that a creating waves and turning heads. Blakey had his break-out game against Essendon last week, and was among the best again, but it's Tom McCartin's ability to compete fiercely in the air, halve contests and bring the ball to ground that really gets things going.

To limit Michael Hurley and Robbie Tarrant's impact in consecutive week is a massive wrap for a player many thought would be squeezed out of the forward line, and end up at centre-half back. Let's not forget his performance against Carlton as well. This kid can play!

6: No Kennedy, no worries, George is here to save the day
It's one thing for a developing, if not battling side, that have openly suggested that a rebuild is in process, to compete gallantly without their best midfielder and captain in the side. It's another thing entirely to destroy the opposition for three quarters, and that's just what a Swans midfield lead by George Hewett did.

He recorded a phenomenal 20 contested possessions from his 28 disposals, setting the Swans up for victory with an emphatic second quarter, with 12 disposals - 9 contested, and 4 clearances. It wasn't just the numbers, it was the way he was doing it, that few would have believed possible without Kennedy a few short years ago. He broke tackles, dominated Jack Ziebell, and recorded 3 inside 50s.

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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

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