AFL Round 13 – Sydney v Port Adelaide: Staggering to the Line

Most Swans fans I know were at least mildly anxious going into this match. On the tram to the Rising Sun in South Melbourne we went through the fors and againsts: Port were on top of the table, they were getting some serious talent back from injury and we had lost a couple of big names: Kurt Tippett and Ben McGlynn were added to Mike Pyke. Still, as a Swans mantra has it, if everyone played their role we’d give it a shake.

The match began with a bang, a goal to Captain Jack in his 150th game; perhaps he’d get us high tonight?! Not long after his fellow-captain Jarrad McVeigh popped one through and we were off to the best of starts.

Jay Schulz got one back for Port, but the Swans kept lining up the kicks. Problem was someone had switched off the radar. Lewis Jetta streaked away down right field in a classic slingshot move and kicked … a behind. Lance Franklin and Adam Goodes missed sitters. Josh Kennedy missed a tough chance and Buddy missed two more. The tension rose: would it come back to bite us?

The malaise continued in the second quarter as Luke Parker missed one he’d normally nail. Then the man affectionately know as Derickx the Gaul tapped down to the Australian of the Year for a quick left foot snap: goal. A few minutes later it was Goodes again with another left-footer. A long bomb from Jetta dropped between the big sticks. Goodes raced in on the right boundary and in true South Australian style kicked a neat checkside goal off the right. We were doing better, but Port had also upped their intensity; their class shone as Matthew Lobbe began to dominate in the centre, Ebert and Gray maintained their workrate but found a bit more space, and Matt White kicked two goals in about as many minutes. Sounds like a ceiling paint? Maybe, but that indicated the level he was playing. While the Swans were kicking 4.4 Port kicked 5.3 and we went to the long break with a measly seven point lead.

In the third quarter the Swans got the radar working again and kicked 5.1, including a spectacular bouncing ball from Kennedy that Shane Warne would have envied, a double leg break that squeaked past the post. Buddy opened his goal account, crumbing and running into an open goal. Minutes later he judged the flight perfectly, dropping and lunging to take the mark, and goaled. Port had their own radar troubles with 3.5 for the quarter, but were still fluent as Gray kicked to Wingard who goaled, and another from Schulz. The Fox team gave him a 56% chance. “Try 96%” I mumbled as he ran in and slotted it.

Port’s radar troubles continued in the final quarter to the tune of 4.6. The lead changed a couple of times in a tight and gripping encounter, but it will probably be remembered as Buddy’s quarter, not only for his three goals but for the way he kicked them. The first came from a chase down and tackle at the top of the arc. The second was a long bomb from about 70 metres out; Alipate Carlile stepped back, seemingly confident that the distance made it a safe option. The ball soared like a bird and dropped like a stone just over the line. The Swans staff later measured it with the trundle wheel: 68.8 metres! The near-record crowd erupted with a roar that sounded as if their numbers had suddenly doubled. The pub roof was in serious danger.

The third kick was a Buddy Special, using agility to grab the ball off the deck, a shuffle sideways like an uncertain dance partner, then a chipped stab kick from the arc, minimum-looking effort for maximum result. The crowd roared it home again, and although there was another carefully crafted goal from the Coleman Medal leader Jay Schulz, a desperate attempt inside the last seven seconds was punched through the sticks by Sam Reid giving a final margin of just four points, 14.14 to 13.16.

Some commentators were ready to call it the Grand Final preview, but there’s a lot of football to play before we get anything like that far. This game was a ripper that had everything you’d want to see, including two fine teams that ran themselves to exhaustion and took the crowd with them. I can’t recall a game when I felt as wrung out at the end, and I was only watching. Both sides should take important positives from this draining, engrossing encounter.

And Port are still on top of the ladder.

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good summary , Don re what was a fantastic game as a neutral I couldn’t drag myself away from watching which is certainly not the case for a lot of games the game will be remembered for the amazing display by buddy thanks , Don

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