Surging Sydney hammered out another warning that their AFL season isn’t over by dismantling St Kilda’s at Etihad Stadium.
The hard-tackling Swans capitalised on the Saints’ spate of horrendous turnovers, particularly in the back half, to storm to a 18.10 (118) to 10.8 (68) win.
Swans coach John Longmire lauded his players’ application to effectively seal the win by early in the second half.
“We were really happy. There was a 15 minute patch in the third quarter that was as powerful, strong footy as we’ve played,” he said.
The Swans’ third consecutive victory after the 0-6 start to the season was built on collective pressure to stifle the Saints’ run and rebound, especially off half-back.
The Saints succumbed to relentless intensity to regularly cough up the ball that resulted in at least a dozen of the Swans’ goals.
“Just getting after them and the fierceness we want to get into our game was evident,” Longmire said.
“We like the tackles, but if they’re going to kick it under pressure, we like that, particularly a team that transfers the ball so well. We had pressure and speed in our forward half which is important for us.”
The Swans reaped the benefits of cleaner use of the ball, despite being beaten in the overall clearances, with an astonishing 12 players among the goalkickers.
Lance Franklin was the main contributor with four goals, admittedly, three of them in the last quarter when the contest was effectively over.
On the vast array of scoring options, Longmire said: “Not as pleased as I was with the pressure, but it normally goes hand-in-hand. If you get the pressure right, other things tend to flow a bit better.”
St Kilda paid a high price for the inability to contain or match Swans’ onballers, led by Dan Hannebery, with 30 possessions, Josh Kennedy (35) and Luke Parker (27).
While the Saints trailed by only 11 points at halftime, it seems they were just hanging in the contest. And the Swans blew it open with the ferocious attack on the ball at the restart.
The Swans specifically targeted in-form Saints onballer Jack Steven and returning young key forward Paddy McCartin with physical attention, even before the opening bounce.
Stevens just kept hunting the ball in the packs and used his breakaway speed to collect 27 possessions. McCartin worked hard but struggled after five games in the VFL and he kicked his only goal from a set shot with three minutes left on the game clock.
McCartin didn’t deserve to shoulder all the blame as St Kilda’s other tall targets, including Nick Riewoldt, scrounged only a handful of marks inside the forward 50 against Swans key defenders Heath Grundy and Lewis Melican.