SYDNEY is towelling Essendon up in the two sides’ elimination final at the SCG on Saturday.
The last time the two sides met in Round 14 the Swans escaped in a one-point thriller, but John Longmire’s men were ruthless as they headed into the halftime break with a 61-point lead.
A clever kick by Orazio Fantasia set up Joe Daniher to kick the first goal of the second half and the key forward almost had two straight but his clever snap went just wide minutes later.
Gary Rohan made sure normal transmission resumed soon after by kicking yet another goal for the Swans and Callum Sinclair booted his third major, justifying the call to include him in the side at Kurt Tippett’s expense.
‘Truly horrific’ footy massacre
There were 71 tackles in the first quarter, a figure Channel Seven’s Cameron Ling said was “off the charts”. Buddy Franklin spent the first break on the bike to stay warm as he tried to shake off a cork and it did the trick as he booted three goals in two minutes to start the second term.
The left-footer slotted a set shot from the arc then struck again after crumbing from 30m out. He completed his hat-trick after marking and converting from the pocket as he starts to dominate Patrick Ambrose.
There were calls for Essendon’s key defender Michael Hurley to move onto Franklin after the superstar’s third goal threatened to tear the game wide open.
Just can't understand why Hurley isn't on Franklin, AA defender taking Sydney's 3rd best tall forward is madness #AFLSwansDons— Adam Curley (@AdamCurleyMedia) September 9, 2017
Have to put Hurley onto Buddy, could get messy. #AFLswansdons— Ryan Fitzgerald (@FitzySA) September 9, 2017
Sydney is smashing Essendon in contested possessions and clearances, Callum Sinclair’s second six-pointer of the afternoon followed soon after by Isaac Heeney sending the Sherrin through the big sticks to set up an 8.4 (52) to 1.3 (9) lead midway through the quarter.
When Jake Lloyd then Josh Kennedy had no trouble kicking straight the Swans had slotted 10 goals straight and the Bombers were staring down the barrel of a footy massacre.
This should be R rated. This is truly horrific. #AFLSwansDons— Michael Beveridge (@mickyb273) September 9, 2017
Finally, 46 minutes after kicking its first goal, Essendon registered its second courtesy of Josh Begley. But after Hurley kicked out on the full Gary Rohan found Franklin on the lead and this season’s Coleman medallist had his fourth goal only for Bomber David Myers to respond immediately with a snap from a clean clearance as the Swans led by 50.
Dean Towers and Josh Kennedy then kicked the last two goals of the half for the hosts as the Swans headed into the sheds at the main break ahead 13.5 (83) to 3.4 (22).
61 points is the most Essendon has ever trailed by in a final at halftime. #AFLFinals #AFLSwansDons— Max Laughton (@maxlaughton) September 9, 2017
Buddy hurt in first quarter
The tone was set early as Swan Isaac Heeney left the field under the blood rule after a big hit split his nose.
Joe Daniher took a hanger inside forward 50 after a couple of minutes and slotted the first goal of the match, but Sydney’s defensive pressure in the forward half paved the way for Dean Towers to snap his set shot through the big sticks from the pocket.
Buddy Franklin started limping when he copped a big knock to his leg during a contest near the goalsquare and left the field to be assessed by the doctors. Channel Seven commentator and former Swan Jude Bolton suggested it may have been a cork, the gun sharpshooter hobbling back on after having his right leg heavily strapped.
“He hobbled off and he wasn’t happy at all,” Bolton said.
Mick: "Franklin really can't put full weight on that right leg at the moment." #AFLSwansBombers— 1116 SEN Footy (@SENfooty) September 9, 2017
Callum Sinclair is winning his personal battle against All Australian backman Michael Hurley, kicking a goal after out-marking the Bomber again. Kieren Jack followed up by picking up the scraps and kicking truly from a turnover 35m out from Essendon’s goal to make it 3.2 (20) to 1.2 (8) in the home side’s favour, and that’s how it stayed at quarter-time.
Bombers continue national anthem anomaly
Adelaide did it, Geelong followed suit now Essendon has completed the hat-trick of odd national anthem approaches.
The Crows stood apart from one another while GWS players were linked arm in arm during the anthem on Thursday, which Richard Douglas said was all a bit of “gamesmanship” to try and put the Giants off.
The Cats copied that optical deception on Friday night and on Saturday afternoon as the Swans put their arms around each other’s shoulders, the Dons left a gap between each player.
Buddy can leapfrog Wayne Carey
Footy legend Dermott Brereton has declared Buddy Franklin can jump Wayne Carey to be considered the greatest forward in the age of television this finals series.
He told SEN that if Franklin continues to be a dominant force this finals series he will have earned the right to be the greatest key forward in modern football.
“His body of work is now getting that big. His ability to swing a game is that big,” Brereton said.
“If he’s the reason they kick a winning score four weeks in-a-row, you would have to say this bloke is the greatest forward we’ve seen since television came in, that we know of.
“What he’s done has been extraordinary. I would say that there has never been a better physical specimen to play the game.
“You know when he signed on for that four-year deal and we said he’ll be 31 (years old) in four years and they’ll have to cough with him for five years because no key position player plays well post 32-years-of-age. His body is different though. He’s running as quick as we’ve ever seen him.”
Franklin is just three games short of Carey’s career 272 games and Brereton believes Franklin’s most “insane” achievement is that his career is showing no signs of slowing down at the same stage when Carey was finished.
“Wayne’s body limped to the line,” he said.
“It was still awesome to watch, but he limped. But, Franklin, it’s extraordinary how he’s still tracking on an up. It’s insane.”
Selwood responds to premature criticism
Geelong captain Joel Selwood is bullish about himself and his team, despite Friday night’s AFL qualifying final drubbing.
Selwood clearly needed the run and was down on his usual output as Richmond mauled the Cats in the last quarter for a 51-point win.
The hard-nut Geelong midfielder made a speedy return from ankle surgery after he was injured in round 20.
Selwood, usually a prolific ball winner, had 19 disposals and did not have a major impact on the game.
“It (ankle) was actually pretty good. Apart from me being just a bit rusty, the ankle itself was as expected and good on the night,” he said. Selwood expects he will be able to step up his training heading into Friday night’s sudden-death semi-final at the MCG.
“(Preparation) will be similar to last week. A bit more continuity and training, which is nice,” he said.
The year-old change to the finals format, with the bye after round 23, and the Western Bulldogs’ stunning premiership a year ago means a sense of the unknown about what will happen this September.
Hence, the Cats can remain bullish about their prospects, despite the odds now being stacked against them.
They have lost Cam Guthrie and Jake Kolodjashnij to calf injuries and, given calves usually take more well over a week to heal, their seasons are probably over.
A lot of the talk heading into Friday night’s game revolved around Richmond’s poor finals record.
But the Cats have now lost seven of nine finals since their 2011 premiership. And the loss puts them into what looks to be the tougher half of the finals draw, headed by minor premiers Adelaide.
But Selwood continued the message out of the Cats camp that they have cause for optimism.
“It only takes one win to get back on and get this side riding a wave, as we saw the Bulldogs do last year,” he said.
“One big win next weekend could change (the) whole landscape of things.”
Swans won’t get a second SCG miracle against Essendon
Handling Essendon’s pressure and pace looms as the key to Sydney reaching week two of the AFL finals, according to Zak Jones.
Jones didn’t feature in the round-14 epic between the two clubs at the SCG, where Gary Rohan booted an after-the-siren goal to hand the Swans a one-point win.
But the 22-year-old speedster watched the Bombers’ second-half blitz, when they kicked seven consecutive goals and had seemingly secured the four premiership points prior to an astonishing comeback from Sydney, from the stands. “It was an incredible game,” Jones said, adding that Saturday’s elimination- final rematch could well be another classic.
“We pulled a rabbit out of the hat that night but that’s what you need to do sometimes to win games.
“Their pace is definitely something we need to look at. Their small forwards are bloody quick.
“Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is a real pressure forward. We’ll have to stay composed and use the ball really well when we’re coming out of defence.” Ruckman Callum Sinclair, who was retained in Sydney’s side ahead of Kurt Tippett this week, noted the Swans must quell the visitors’ speed.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind that game. The only thing I really remember is the last five or 10 seconds,” Sinclair said.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be another thrilling contest. “There were patches of that game where we got outplayed, we weren’t playing our best and it cost us. They piled on the goals.” Sydney scored 20 points in the final 270 seconds of the regular-season clash with Essendon to conjure a victory. The Bombers were guilty of making a handful of critical errors in a frantic finish.
“We learnt a bit about what we should be doing it tight games,” Bombers coach John Worsfold said on Friday.
“Not a lot extra. We know (how) they line up, we know what their strengths are. We saw our strengths come to the fore and we saw that it was a pretty close game all round.”
- ‘Truly horrific’ footy massacre
- Franklin hurt in first term
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