Swans pile on the pain for battered Blues, breathe new life into season
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Sydney have breathed new life into their ailing AFL season while delivering a bitter blow to Carlton’s finals ambitions with a painful but no less precious 26-point win on Friday night.
As important a result as this might be for the Swans’ broader ambitions, nobody will be ordering the DVD or running back the replay on any streaming service. This was a scrappy, sloppy, disjointed game of football between two teams that have, for various reasons, failed to live up to the pre-season hype.
Sydney’s Will Hayward (right) celebrates with Lance Franklin.Credit: AFL Photos
John Longmire can happily bank the four points from the Swans’ second win in a row, after last week’s lucky break against North Melbourne, and forget about it.
His counterpart, Michael Voss, would probably like to do the same, but might be haunted by this at times excruciating contest for a long time to come, with Patrick Cripps, Ollie Hollands and Nic Newman hurt.
The Blues had it all to play for in the final quarter, trailing by eight points after probably edging the Swans in general play to that point. But they struggled to land any punch, let alone the first one of the final term, and it was Chad Warner who eventually broke the scoring deadlock from one metre out after Sydney scrambled forward, breaking Carlton’s resistance in tandem.
Goals from Will Hayward and Justin McInerney followed to confirm this win, which lifts the Swans into 11th spot on the ladder ahead of next week’s bye – but their September hopes will continue to be tempered by their long injury list, which mercifully did not see any fresh names added to it.
In Carlton’s defence, they played out the crucial final minutes with barely any fit bodies on the bench, with former Sydney midfielder George Hewett ironed out with concussion in the second quarter, Hollands and Newman ruled out later on, and Cripps forced back onto the field after hobbling off in distress.
Carlton’s Patrick Cripps hurt his ankle/lower leg.Credit: AFL Photos
But the match was lost long before then, with the Blues’ awful goalkicking letting the Swans off the hook. The chief culprits were Charlie Curnow, who hauled in six contested marks across the first half but kicked 1.3, and Harry McKay, who returned 0.3 as his yips returned at a crucial juncture early in the third quarter.
Majors from Sam Walsh and Curnow had set them up beautifully, ready to bite into Sydney’s six-point half-time lead, but McKay held them back. He had two chances to convert – one from directly in front of goal, the other on an angle – but missed both set shots, and minutes later, Tom Papley was up the other end showing him how it’s done. He also fluffed a snap from close range and put another set shot out on the full.
It was that sort of night for the Blues, who must count the physical and mental cost of this defeat before preparing for another Friday night showdown with Melbourne at the MCG.
Warner finished with 29 touches, four clearances, two goals and the Goodes-O’Loughlin medal for best afield in Sydney’s annual Marn Grook game, which was observed by 36,310 fans at Moore Park. Nick Blakey, with 26 disposals and 12 marks, was imperious across an undermanned, undersized defence.
There was little separating the two sides across a rather forgettable first half. Sydney shaded it on the scoreboard, but Carlton looked better for longer, yet failed to capitalise on their long stretches of territorial dominance, which is ultimately the name of the game.
Sydney invariably landed the odd counter-punch, attacking the corridor with a familiar sense of intent, but there was a sense that the Blues – who kicked only one goal in the second quarter – were well within striking distance if they could just straighten a few things out. They couldn’t.
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