We got the win

What a way to start the year. A warm, windy afternoon in Adelaide couldn't blow away positive fans vibes as the Swans' banked win number four into the first of two byes for the season.

Casting your eyes and thoughts across the ladder predictor, most had the Swans dropping the first two games. Heading into the season opener with Melbourne in all sorts of trouble, it was too easy to look at a game the Swans must win to stake a claim in the sand for season 2024. Clayton Oliver was under serious scrutiny for his off-field indiscretions, Joel Smith's drug turmoils and constant noise over Simon Goodwin's purported drug use, served as strong distractions.

An easy bankable win was nearly flipped on its head when serial villain Baily Fritsch slammed his third goal home in the third quarter and almost threatened to flip the Swans' table. Only a few brave souls at that point thought a win was on the cards. Brody Grundy played his best game in years, while Isaac Heeney's switch to midfield had the AFL world swooning. I wasn't alone thinking Clayton Oliver would struggle and would be out-of-shape; 20-20 hindsight isn't kind on that prediction, he's on his to another Keith 'Bluey' Truscott Memorial Trophy.

The Swans were given little change in the game against Collingwood coming off a 6-day break. The football commentary, odds and AFL media world swinging from the woods for a Collingwood turn around in fortunes. What we got was 45 minutes of Collingwood-ish football, mixed with truly horrendous turnovers that made West Coast famous last year.

It was a great win for the team and reinforced their premiership status, but one had to question just how good the Swans were going to be. There's no doubt most would have penciled in the next three games as danger wins, and that's the folly of the ladder predictor.

There's something about the Swans versus Essendon match-up that gets the tail wagging and tongues lashing. On and off the field the clubs don't like each other. Essendon came with a plan, but it wasn't a good one and Peter Wright, despite his good nature and clean record, stepped over the line.

Peter Wright colliding with Harry Cunningham

It was an exciting, high-scoring game of football, but when it's Essendon, you just take them as they come. Never forgot Gary Rohan and "Mark! Mark! MAAARRRKKK!!!!".

Leigh Montagna's "bullish" approach to the Swans was reinforced with an uncharacteristic performance and loss against an excellent Richmond performance. As Mike Tyson says, everyone's got a plan until you're punched in the face. That's the best way to describe what the Tigers did. Square, on the nose. That was an A-grade elite performance from a team most had pegged for the bottom four.

The Eagles must have been reading from the same playbook as the "Essendon Edge" and the Tigers' relentless pressure, because their first half was awesome. Most would reserve platitudes like that for a bottom-rung team when they don't get smashed off the field or manage to pinch a win against a sleeping team.

It's not possible to speak highly enough of their first-half performance, Harley Reid in particular, and what they were able to do during a furious second quarter. They made the Swans look second-rate and bereft of ideas. A team contending looking like that against the worst team in 25 years doesn't bode well.

Harley Reid

It really does point to the folly of the ladder predictor and expectations. Pre-match predictions had the Swans belting the Eagles not only off the park, but out of the ground, to the airport and out of the state, consigned back to Scarborough Beach for the next week to lick their wounds before picking up another 100-plus point belting.

Everyone thought Isaac Heeney's bountiful golden locks would flow unimpeded as he continued his unexpected march towards his first Charlie. Curiosity would exist and rise as young starlet Harley Reid took to the field, while Brody Grundy would easily dominate the ruck and the Swans would have 20 goals on the board by half-time.


No one thought the Eagles would be capable of putting up any kind of resistance or maintain it for any meaningful period of play. Yet, from the first bounce they showed their intent, with a first-quarter pressure rating of 250. It's unheard of and the Swans are normally the best pressure team in the league.

They were rewarded for their perseverance in the second quarter - their only winning quarter from 16 attempts this year and threatened one of the biggest boilovers in the last 20 years.

We got the win, that's all that matters in the end. Only the fans care about percentages after 5 games when you're entrenched in the top four. Errol Gulden, Isaac Heeney and Harley Reid should pick up the chocolates come the end of the season celebrations, but importantly they picked up their fourth win.

Longmire was effusive in his praise of West Coast after the match and reinforced just how hard it is to win AFL games. External expectations often bleed through to the team, and we've seen how hard that can be to overcome. You only need to cast your eyes back to the 2014 AFL Grand Final to see the impact of complacency.

Ask any fan what they would have wanted, four points and four wins, or 100-plus point win and two-or-three wins.

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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 https://theswansblog.com

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