Round 13 – Sydney Swans v West Coast Eagles: Give the backs a break!

 

With a screech heard from the SCG clear to the Swan River the ball is bounced and it’s game on, both on the field and in the stands. To save our eardrums the counter-calls and ‘Sydney’ chants go up. Can’t quite drown out the squawking from Two Rows Back though. Best to just try and ignore it and concentrate on the game.

 

First v third on the ladder and despite the Swans’ patchy performance at the SCG this season I’ve come in feeling confident tonight. The Eagles are deservedly flying but we’re the only team to knock them off this year. It’s probably wishful thinking to expect another bag out of Buddy tonight but it’s Heath Grundy’s 250th and Aliir Aliir’s back, down the back, which is heartening to see.

 

The game starts with neither side able to dominate the flow. We lock it in for a while but the Eagles break free with a snap shot at goal, thankfully only for a behind. Jack and Buddy try out some deft footwork but get hemmed in on the boundary line. Florent effects a great smother. The Eagles’ dominant ruck work is allowing them to move the ball quickly but our defence is fluently absorbing their forward entries. Without a score though it’s getting restless up in the stands. The stalemate is broken as the Eagles get a major off a dubious free. We then drop a mark to give them another opportunity which luckily doesn’t pay off. The Swans counter-punch; Heeney with a trademark bulldog tackle, Aliir evading, Sinclair and Kennedy frustratingly only with minor scores. The siren goes and we’re down a goal. Feels like we’re in for another of those mid 2000s low-scoring, in-the-trenches, battles.

 

The Swans come out of the break firing. Ronke slips into space to take Cunningham’s chipped shot for an easy goal. My optimistic bubble is then burst by a fumble which the Eagles swoop on for an easy retort. We get the regular weekly ‘rectangle’ with Papley’s goal getting reviewed. Guess the technology won’t improve itself but it does feel a bit ‘we’ve got it so might as well use it’ at times. Cunningham’s chase down tackle earns him six points. What I’m sensing though is that despite the odd missed link up the boys are much more in sync than a few games ago. In contrast, despite a surge in pressure, the Eagles are surprisingly wasteful with their forward entries. Closing in on half-time and, with Kennedy’s ‘straight as a die’ goal, it feels like we’ve got the upper hand and will retain it. Which has subdued Two Rows Back if nothing else.

 

The Eagles burst out of the blocks in the third, ghosting across the pack to take a great mark which thankfully goes unrewarded. Buddy tries to get a look in but his shot hits the post. Our defence is still holding strong though with Rampe smothering what might have been a dangerous forward entry. The ball jags to the edge of the fifty into Ronke’s hands. With the crowd roaring he takes off and three bounces later rolls it in. The game hasn’t opened up though; AFL House must be gnashing their teeth in frustration. The umpires are not even bothering to recall errant centre bounces, which are mysteriously working out to the Eagles’ advantage. Buddy gets on the end of a Jones to Parker link-up and finally registers his first goal. The Eagles get a suspect free and a goal and then find themselves in space for another which re-ignites Two Rows Back. Buddy counters with an eight point haul. Wouldn’t be surprised if his wallet is a grand lighter come Monday though. We’re the Swans ,not Swan Lake. The Eagles close the gap just before the siren with a long bomb goal leaving me on edge.

 

My blood pressure goes up when they get one straight away in the final term. The Swans fight back but Buddy’s marking attempt off Rohan’s centring kick, which looked a certain goal, is almost own-goal like. Heyward’s rushed shot is offline. The effort is there but we’re inefficient and the Eagles’ sensing this ramp up their attack. It’s heart-in-mouth time but their inaccuracy is our saving grace and they can’t close the gap.

 

We cheer, cheer the red and the white as Two Rows Back squawks off into the night. The younger brigade and the overall entire team effort was very impressive; didn’t wilt under what was, at times, immense pressure. Note to team though: our defence could do with a rest at times!

 

A great win. Can’t wait for the Tigers.

 

 

 

About Tom Bally

Born in 1834 Tom Bally was instrumental in establishing the rules of the modern game. It's a little known fact and the rare times he talks about it all he'll say is "that bloody Wills chap got me full of grape one night and the next thing I know he's peacocking around Richmond Paddock like he dreamt up the whole thing on his lonesome. Still I got the last laugh didn't I eh? Introducing the Umpire and all that."

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