The Swans Get Their Wings Clipped

April 8, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 3 – Melbourne v Sydney 

Liam Chambers

The Swans Get Their Wings Clipped (van Rooyen is a True ‘Un) 

Round 3 was the first full game without Max Gawn but a few firm favourites were back; notably Steven May and Bailey Fritsch, along with the ever-reliable veteran Michael Hibberd.

It was the debutant Jacob van Rooyen who was to have the first major impact on the game though. His mark just outside the 50m arc was well taken. Then his level headed kick to Alex Neal-Bullen, after the teenager spotted him running into position, was perfect. Neal-Bullen went back and kicked Melbourne’s first.

The signs were good for the Dees with their forwards getting behind the Swans’ defence with relative ease. Pinning the Swans in their defensive 50, Melbourne got another shot at goal when van Rooyen was taken high about 15m from goal. The youngster show great composure when taking the kick, slotting his first for the Demons.

Up the other end nothing was working for the opposition. They were winning the clearances but not getting the reward. Conversely, Melbourne was making the most of their chances, pressuring Sydney’s defence until they found a path to goal.

Kade Chandler is turning into a great goal assister (official informal title). His turning kick from just outside 50 was taken by the athletic Charlie Spargo. The small forward’s mark was unconventional but effective and his set shot was on target.

After the bounce, the Swans again won the clearance but again the Dees’ fended off the challenge. Finally, Sydney got a six pointer on the board when Lance “Buddy” Franklin managed to dribble one in after a few moments of chaos following a stoppage in front of goal.

Lachie Hunter redressed the balance when he was awarded a free kick 60m out. He was guaranteed a goal once the umpire gave out a 50m penalty for dissent. It was all Melbourne by that stage and Spargo was again involved in the action, wrong footing the defence and finding Ben Brown with a nicely weighted kick. Brown struck it perfectly and his 30m shot went through for the Dees’ fifth. A minute later it was six when Clayton Oliver kicked an accurate running shot from 40m.

It had been a great opening term for Melbourne but the Swans would have been frantically discussing their counter tactics during the break. Straightaway Sydney looked more aggressive, defending more urgently and counter attacking with a vengeance. It didn’t take them long to open the scoring with Tom Papley kicking a set shot from 45m. The visitors looked determined to add to their tally and they got the chance when an off the ball holding decision went against the Dees. Will Hayward was the beneficiary and he kicked it through to build on the Swans’ momentum.

They failed to main the rage however, allowing Melbourne to slowly wrest back control. When a loose ball was collected by Kade Chandler and snapped off his right boot, the lead was back out to twenty-three points. Bailey Fritsch celebrated his return by taking a contested mark while fending off Paddy McCartin (no easy feat). His set shot put some more daylight between the sides, stretching the margin to thirty points.

With eight goals from eight different kickers, it was turning into a promising afternoon for Demon fans. Having just scored at one end, Fritsch popped up in defence to take a contested mark. Unfortunately the ball came back inside 50 and was marked by the legendary Franklin who slotted his second. When James Rowbottom snapped a goal from 20m in front, it seemed that Sydney’s dogged persistence was paying off. The question now was how would the Dees respond?

That was answered by Lachie Hunter whose 45m set shot landed perfectly on his left boot and dropped beautifully through the posts. With a minute to go, Melbourne was still leading by twenty one points and would have been happy to have weathered the Sydney storm before regrouping in the break. Unfortunately, Logan McDonald somewhat spoiled that aspiration when he took a mark on the 50m line. His set shot hit the target and the Swans finished the half only trailing by fifteen points.

The Dees had the perfect start to the third quarter when Clayton Oliver was awarded a 50m penalty after he suffered a late contact while taking a mark. His kick from 35m notched up the second of the afternoon for the 150 game veteran.

Needless to say, the Sydney Swans haven’t got to where they are by being timid and they continued to take the fight to Melbourne. That aggression was typified by Tom Papley whose 40m running snap reduced the gap back to fifteen. Errol Gulden made it an eight point game when he somehow managed to get his boot to the sherrin in a highly congested pack. The match had suddenly become very competitive. The Swans won the clearance and Franklin marked 35m from goal. Fortunately he pulled it wide, giving the Dees a chance to reset.

Sydney, despite having dominated for most of the quarter, failed to capitalise on their momentum. Then when Kade Chandler had a difficult shot from the pocket, he steered it through to push the advantage out to two goals even. With the intensity rising, Simon Goodwin made a tactical substitution, bringing Jake Melksham on for Ben Brown. The forward was given the job of frustrating Paddy McCartin.

The Dees as a group were starting to frustrate the entire Swans side when Steven May’s perfectly placed kick was marked by Bailey Fritsch 35m from home. The reliable Fritsch didn’t disappoint and Melbourne started to pull away again. It was back to back for the Fritsch magnet when he turned and snapped after receiving a looping handball from Brodie Grundy.

Tom Papley kept Sydney in contention when he marked at 40m out, securing his hat trick. The margin yo yo’d back to twenty four points after Charlie Spargo picked up the loose ball in front of goal before kicking his second.

The frenetic high scoring third quarter set a precedent for the final term with Sydney desperate to get goals early. Melbourne was equal to the task; determined to maintain the upper hand. Ed Langdon has perfected the art form of centering a kick from the pocket and finding a teammate in a goal scoring position. This time his running kick found Kade Chandler who again hit the back of the net with his set shot.

With a comfortable thirty two point lead, the Dees were now going to be difficult to run down. Nick Blakey kept Sydney in the chase with his 40m set shot but all hope was abandoned two minutes later when Jacob van Rooyen took a contested mark 15m in front. It was a dream introduction for the first gamer. He must have thought he was really dreaming when he was awarded a free kick a minute later; this time from 40m in front. His effort sailed through and the Dees had an unassailable forty point lead.

In all the excitement, the Swans managed to scramble one back after winning the clearance and bursting through inside 50 where Will Hayward ran one in from the goal square. James Jordon took it back to forty points when he took a mark from Chandler (another assist) and made no mistakes with his cleanly taken set shot.

Not wanting to be left out, Harrison Petty marked a sublimely placed Christian Petracca kick and slotted one from 35m. Tom Sparrow had a go when he snapped a high ball through the uprights, boosting Melbourne’s already healthy percentage. Justin McInerney pulled one back to save some Sydney face but by then it was all over. Jake Melksham kicked one from the pocket, after the siren, to cap off a perfect night for the Demons.

The 50 point margin secured us the fourth spot on the ladder. I don’t know what the record is for the most individual goal scorers in a single game but I like to think we came close on Sunday afternoon.

Next week it’s the Eagles in Perth. They’re not as scary a prospect as they were a few seasons ago but we won’t be taking them for granted.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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