Ruthless Swans head into September with a pep in their step
By Lance Jenkinson
Sydney Swans have built enviable depth across the course of the season that will stand them in good stead for a deep finals run.
There were no weak links for the Swans in a merciless 87-point pounding of the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
Swans coach John Longmire is pleased with the personnel at his disposal heading into what will be a gruelling September if his side is to go all the way from the bottom half of the eight.
“We talked about it at the start of the year that it would take a whole squad to get us through to the finals and that’s what it’s done,” Longmire said.
“It’s got us prepared for a finals series and now we’re about to start it.
“We’re confident with the players that were playing today and we’re also confident there’s another group there, if we need, to come into the team.”
Sydney has the shortest injury list in the competition, but it still has a couple of potential headaches to top-liners ahead of their elimination final.
The big concern stemming from the win over Gold Coast was an achilles concern to prime ball user Callum Mills.
Mills was a little ginger in pre-game warm ups, but that is not unusual for Mills, who has battled with the ailment previously.
The pain never subsided for Mills and he was eventually forced out of the game.Embed from Getty Images
Longmire is worried that Mills could miss week one of the finals.
“While he was a little bit stiff in the warm up, normally he warms up really well and away he goes,” he said.
“That’s certainly been the case over this year that he’s been able to get going even if he might look a bit proppy in the warm up.
“It didn’t get any better today after half time particularly.
“In that third quarter, we were concerned he was putting himself at risk and we were worried about injury from that point.
“We really wanted him to keep playing, it would’ve been good for him, he hasn’t played a lot of footy over the last six or seven weeks, but it was putting him too much at risk.”
The other injury cloud for Sydney is veteran Josh Kennedy, who missed with a hamstring.
One player who looked fit-as-a-fiddle was superstar forward Lance Franklin.
‘Buddy’ tore the Suns apart, kicking 6.2 to go with seven marks and five tackles.Embed from Getty Images
He moved to within eight goals of the magical 1000-goal milestone.
Franklin used the previous week to ramp up his training and looked better for it.
“It was time to train him both in the gym and during the week,” Longmire said.
“Whilst he’s been training regularly, he wasn’t able to really let go and put the hammer down, and he was able to do that last week and get himself into good nick for this week.
“Everyone needs to do that every now and then to feel good about themselves and also for the sake of injury prevention.
“Today we’ll see how he pulls up, hopefully he pulls up well and we attack the week again.”
Isaac Heeney was superb for Sydney with three goals and 20 disposals.
Livewire Tom Papley also jagged three, including a bull-at-a-gate goal late in the game that he took delight in.
Arguably the best-on-ground was Jordan Dawson.Embed from Getty Images
Dawson is evolving into one of the game’s best utilities.
The 24-year-old has an ability to take the ball at its highest point in a marking contest and he is able to sniff out a player in the smallest pockets of space with his lethal left boot.
Dawson’s versatility allows Longmire to play him across half forward, on a wing and across half back.
Longmire was thrilled with Sydney’s ruthless performance across the board.
“It was a terrific finish to the home-and-away season,” he said.
“We wanted to come here and keep practicing the sort of footy we want to play.
“Regardless of the opposition, we wanted to make sure that we finished the season off strongly.
“I thought we did that really well.”