Last year's Grand Finalists came into Saturday afternoon’s game with something in their favour. They had defeated Port Adelaide in 13 of their last 14 outings, and Port had not defeated them at the SCG since 2006. On paper it looked as if today could be another dominant display akin to their Round 20 match last season, where the Swans were victors by 67 points.
Oliver Florent got his first AFL kick to Sam Reid who slotted the goal. Reid had missed the entire 2016 season with injury and kicked the first goal of his and the swans season. It was a back and forth affair in the first term with the ball moving freely from end to end. Port managed to muster a 19-point lead early but Sydney had dragged it back to just 1 point at the first break. Sam Reid looked confident and dominant as he kicked two snags in the first quarter. It was great to see him leading towards the ball rather than waiting for it to come to him, and credit can go to Tony Lockett who has continuously worked with Reid’s marking and kicking.
The second quarter began with the Swans under siege. Two minutes in and the Power had already slotted two goals, one being from Captain and 200-gamer Travis Boak. These were the early signs that Port was going to be in this game until the final whistle. The Swans began to steady and started to look like the grand finalists of 2016. Sam Reid kicked truly and had three goals before half time.
A cracking game had led us into the main break with only four points difference in favour of the Power, who were led by midfield bull Ollie Wines, and the player Sydney were needing to replicate in Chad Wingard. Kieran Jack’s pressure around the forward 50 was immensely important for the Swans in the first half. JPK was silky and brilliant as always, but Hannebery really struggled to get going and seemingly coughed up the ball each time it came to him. Although the game was close at this point, it was evident that Sydney’s ball use was not up to scratch.
Zak Jones and Callum Mills looked great off the halfback line and the wing for the Swans. Mills looks like he has been playing footy for years, as he shows poise with the ball like some of the veteran defenders of the league. Whereas Jones had an attack on the ball like it had stolen his lunch. He had 18 touches going into half time and booted a beautiful running goal from outside 50 at the end of the 2nd quarter. It will be interesting to see if either of these guys are anchored down in a primarily backline role after Dane Rampe’s broken arm that will unfortunately seem him sidelined for around 8 weeks.
It only took 30 seconds for Port to extend their half time lead. Travis Boak’s pressure and intensity was on display as he slotted their first goal of the 2nd half.
The number of players around the ball in the forward line for Port Adelaide was almost double the number of Swans players. At the drop of the ball there was a swarm of players that made the Swans look purely outnumbered. As the 3rd quarter continued it became prevalent that Port Adelaide were outnumbering the Swans on both ends. The Swans had 16 inside-50 entries for 2 goals, where Port had 5 goals from just 10 inside-50 entries.
Port lead into the 4th quarter by 22 points and hold a lead against the Swans for the first time since 2006.
Buddy got the crowd up on their feet as he kicked his 4th goal to open the 4th quarter. His one on one marking was outstanding throughout the game. If only the Swans could’ve had another 5 Buddy’s running around on the park. After an answer from Port, Keiran Jack continued to give the Swans hope, as the margin is only 16 points with 15 minutes remaining. Perhaps one of the turning points in the game was when a monstrous kick, 60 meters out on the wing by Buddy was touched on the line. Reid looked to have crumbled the ball and kicked the goal, which after a review was deemed a behind. The ball had been touched on the line and what could’ve been a 10-point deficit was still a 16-point deficit.
A bullet sent towards goal by Hamish Hartlett outside-50 was the straw that broke the camels back. The Swans had multiple failed entries into the forward line, and finally, Port Adelaide had sealed the game.
A huge positive for the Swans is the play of Buddy Franklin. He continued last season’s form and played his role as a dynamic forward as good as we’ve seen. He was winning contests, crumbing, kicking goals and doing everything his team could’ve asked of him.
Sydney missed their attack from Heeney and Rohan but will need to conjure some creativity before next week, as those guys are still weeks away. The huge factor within this game was Port’s attack on the ball and the high amount of players around the fall of the ball compared to the Swans. The hunger of Port is commendable and if they keep that up all season they will be dangerous in the finals. Port Adelaide debutant Sam Powell-Pepper was awarded a well-deserved Rising Star nomination after he bullied the Swans in the midfield and around the goals.
I’m sure John Longmire will take a long look at the tape with the squad during the week and break down where the Swans were broken down.
Port Adelaide were victors – 17.8 (110) to 12.10 (82)