Scrappy Swans win with no Buddy
No Buddy, not much from Kurt and Sam, but evergreen Adam Goodes helped AFL ladder-leaders Sydney to a gritty 22-point win over Essendon at the SCG on Friday night.
Leading goalkicker Lance Franklin withdrew before the game with knee soreness and while Sydney missed his flashes of brilliance, they scrapped their way to a 11.13 (79) to 8.9 (57) win.
The Bombers slashed a 28-point half-time deficit to ten in the third quarter and continued snapping at Sydney’s heels in the last, but never got the margin down to single figures.
They paid the price for a slow start, trailing 20-1 early and by 26 at the first change.
The Swans proved they didn’t need a big contribution from their celebrated four-pronged strikeforce of tall forwards, with the other three members apart from Franklin combining for just four goals.
Sydney’s other main forward target Kurt Tippett booted just two goals – both from free kicks – as he was well held by Cale Hooker.
Sam Reid, who spent time off the ground with what appeared to be hip issue, notched a single goal and nine disposals.
Goodes collected 18 touches, a game-high ten marks and kicked 2.1, sealing the win with a final-quarter goal.
With not many forward line pyrotechnics, Sydney prevailed through strong defensive pressure and midfield industry in a workmanlike effort after their 12-game winning streak was snapped by Hawthorn last week.
Luke Parker (35 possessions) and Josh Kennedy (28) were among their hardest and most influential workers.
The Swans kicked the first three goals of the game and while Essendon had a good patch in the middle of the opening quarter, they didn’t make it count on the scoreboard.
Sydney controlled most of the second quarter but only expanded their lead by two after kicking 2.5 to 2.3.
The Bombers came out full of run after halftime and cut the deficit to 10, as Pat Ryder and Ben Howlett converted set shots from around 50 metres and Jake Carlisle goaled from close range.
Sydney responded with goals to Tippett and Ben McGlynn stretching their buffer to 20 by the final break.
Dyson Heppell kicked the first goal of the last term, but Sydney outscored the visitors by two points for the term.
Michael Hurley played with plenty of authority down back and logged a team-leading 29 touches for Essendon, with Heppell tallying 25.
Franklin’s place was taken by 20-year-old debutant Tim Membrey, who found himself marked by Dustin Fletcher, playing his 393rd game.
Membrey, who hadn’t even been born when 39-year-old Fletcher made his debut back in 1993, was substituted by Jake Lloyd at the last change after tallying nine touches and four marks.
Sydney coach John Longmire was pleased with the effort of his back six and midfield and the fact they had eight goalkickers.
“We thought our run and spread was good,” Longmire said.
“Certainly our contested footy in the first part of the game was of a very high standard, so that was good to see.”
He said Franklin had knee tendinitis and was sore at training on Wednesday.
“It just flared up a little bit from last week, it should be alright next week,” Longmire said.
Essendon coach Mark Thompson said his men didn’t move the ball the way they needed to until they were desperate.
“Clearly they were the better side on the night, I thought we were lucky just to lose by the margin we did,” Thompson said.
“Their midfield won the battle. Their midfield clearly had more impact than ours.”