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Sydney Swans: Franklin 3, Ried 2, Papley 2, Hannebery, Kennedy, Parker, Hewett, Lloyd
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Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Dahlhaus, Daniel, McLean, Wallis, Biggs
Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Heeney, Lloyd, Franklin, Papley, Hannebery, Parker
Thursday night proved to be a real dirty night at the office for the Western Bulldogs, as they were handed down a 46-point thumping at the hands of Sydney in torrid conditions at the SCG, breaking the Bulldogs' four game winning streak against Sydney, dating back to 2015.
With both teams coming off the bye the week before, the Swans were on from the first bounce, with several Sydney players setting their sights on last year's Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen before the start of the game - with George Hewett proving to be the main antagonist. Johannisen has proved to be the thorn in Sydney's sides last year, kicking the game-winning goal in their home-and-away meeting last year before tallying up 33 disposals off half-back in a best afield display.
After a scrappy opening term, that saw very few goals kicked, Sydney led the match by a straight kick at quarter time, but the Swans asserted their dominance in the contest shortly afterwards, but not before a Caleb Daniel set-shot on goal brought the difference back to three points. The Swans' hunger for the ball throughout the first half stood-out against a very ordinary Bulldogs team.
The Dogs struggled to find a target inside 50 all night long and made it far too easy for the Swans to run it out of defence and if it weren't for some poor goal-kicking from the Sydney forwards, the match would've been over - 13 scoring shots to five and 32 inside 50s to 22 told the story in a night that was all about a resurgent Sydney outfit and a Bulldogs side that look nowhere near the side that won the premiership.
The Dogs tried to make something happen in the third quarter as we've all seen time and time again, they got to within three goals at one point in the quarter, but the Swans simply had all the answers the visiting side were ready to give them. Sydney's elite midfield brigade absolutely slaughtered the Bulldogs in the stoppages and were willing to run around the SCG in numbers. There were too many times that Bulldog players were surrounded by three, four and even five players in red and white.
Down by 29 points at three quarter time, there was a glimmer of hope that the Bulldogs could pull off a miraculous comeback as they've so often done, but three goals in the first eight minutes of the final quarter blew the margin out to a game-high 48 points, ensuring the Swans get their fourth win in the last five starts. The Swans remain two games outside the eight, and with games against Richmond, Essendon, Melbourne and Gold Coast to come in the month ahead, this will exactly tell us whether the Swans are back or not.
I'm not convinced it's a premiership hangover just yet, but by watching this game, it's clear that they are so far away from their premiership success last year, it's beyond a joke. It's not about the questioning selections that Luke Beveridge made ahead of last night, whether it was an under-performing Travis Cloke ahead of Jack Redpath and Tim English playing his second AFL game in greasy conditions against bigger bodies or even the very unimpressive umpiring that was displayed by the men in green.
The Dogs lost and lost badly because they turned up to Sydney expecting things to be delivered to them - what a difference 10 weeks make. I'm trying my best to say away that it was a disgraceful effort or that the pressure was pathetic, but somewhere in that club is a mindset that needs to change. The niggling attention recieved from Jason Johannisen worked well for the Swans as the Norm Smith Medallist only had nine disposals Thursday night, and often he'd fumble it or make an error, he looked defeated at three-quarter time - And he says he's worth $800,000 a season??? Give me a spell!
It's obvious after tonight that Marcus Bontempelli is down on form (18 disposals at 39% efficiency), his miss from close range in the last quarter highlighted how frustrating the Dogs have been tonight. Whether it is an injury or he is just struggling with the pressure I wish I knew. Liam Picken and Matthew Boyd have been horrifically underwhelming as the veterans in this side and I needed more from guys like Lin Jong (13 disposals) and Bailey Dale (11 disposals) because I know they can play, we've seen it this season.
They have 11 weeks left to turn this around and turn it around quick, because at 6-5, there are several teams outside the eight lurking and looking to take advantage of those inside the eight who drop the games they shouldn't be dropping.
Leading The Way
There weren't many good performances tonight from the Bulldogs, but there were still a few players that could hold their heads high and say they at least gave it a crack.
Jack Macrae, Luke Dahlhaus and Caleb Daniel were again the standout trio. Macrae led all the Bulldogs' players in disposals with 32 touches to go along with five marks, four clearances and four tackles. in admirable effort in the midfield, Dahlhaus was also terrific despite receiving an accidental knee to the head from Josh Kennedy - he had 28 disposals, five tackles and a goal, whilst Daniel was busy all night long with 28 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and a goal.
Former Swan Shane Biggs (19 disposals, four marks and four rebound 50s) battled hard in defence, as did Marcus Adams (14 disposals, seven marks and five rebound 50s) who spent most of the first half on the in-form Lance Franklin, before he sat out the entire second half with a foot injury in what is a massive blow to the Bulldogs' defence, given that they are already missing Dale Morris and captain Robert Murphy - both men vital players in the Bulldogs' defence.
Mitch Wallis was also gallant in the midfield with a 24 disposal effort to go along with five inside 50s, four clearances and three marks, whilst Toby McLean enjoyed his return in the top flight with 21 disposals, five tackles and a goal in a trying effort, but in my eyes, there were just simply too many passengers wearing the red, white and blue at the SCG on Thursday night.
Credit to where credit is due to the Sydney Swans, who started the year at 0-6 and with an abundance of injuries to vital players and a demoralising upset loss to Hawthorn a couple of weeks ago, they have their season back on track and judging from their despiration for the ball, I can seriously see them making a big play for finals footy. I can't recall any side in recent history making finals after being 0-6 in the first six rounds, so it'll be very interesting where the Swans go from here.
Isaac Heeney didn't play against the Dogs earlier in the year due to glandular fever, but was amongst Sydney's best with 31 disposals, six inside 50s, five marks, five rebound 50s and four tackles, and along with Josh Kennedy who had 37 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s, six clearances and a goal, were the two influential Swans on the ground. They were well supported by Dan Hannebery (28 disposals, eight clearances, six marks, four tackles and a goal) and Luke Parker (23 disposals, eight tackles, eight inside 50s, five clearances and a goal, whilst Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair were unstoppable in the ruck, combining for 64 hitouts, which shows really how out of depth young Bulldog Tim English is for the moment.
Jake Lloyd continues his consistent year down back with 31 disposals, 10 marks and a goal, up forward, it was a dominant display from Lance Franklin, who ended the night with 3.5 from nine marks and 16 disposals, but it very much could've been a bag of six or seven if he was able to capitalise on his shots on goal. His partner-in-crime Sam Reid - who kicked six on the Dogs last time - kicked two goals from 16 disposals and 10 marks, but like Buddy, could've had a bag of four as his misses came from gettable shots, whilst the game from small forward Tom Papley was sensational - he had 21 disposals, eight tackles, seven inside 50s and two goals.
The Dogs are now 0-5 interstate this year, which is very horrible numbers from a team that is supposed to be the reigning premiers. Next week's game against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium looms as a massive game for not just the Bulldogs, but for a Melbourne team who are searching for their first appearance in the AFL post-season since 2006.
The Dees are a bit like the Bulldogs at the moment, a very hot and cold side right now. Their best footy has the capacity to blow the top teams off the park - Adelaide a month ago is a prime example, but they do manage to drop games they shouldn't really be dropping. The Dogs have an eight-day break to try and turn this disgraceful performance around, because at the moment, hopes of a back-to-back are incredibly slim. But if there is any team out there that has the capacity to turn it around, it is the Western Bulldogs.