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Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Sydney

There’s another one! Lance Franklin celebrates a goal during Sydney’s power-packed elimination final victory against Essendon. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Sydney

Ronny Lerner    

2017 record: 15 wins, 9 losses (5th)

Matthew Ling (Geelong Falcons), Tom McCartin (Geelong Falcons), Ryley Stoddart (Eastern Ranges), Angus Styles (Sandringham Dragons), Joel Amartey (Sandringham Dragons), James Bell (UNSW-ES), Jake Brown (St George – Sydney AFL)

Sam Murray (Collingwood), Brandon Jack (delisted), Michael Talia (delisted), Tyrone Leonardis (delisted), Shaun Edwards (retired), Jeremy Laidler (retired), Sam Fisher (delisted)

With supreme confidence in its list, Sydney wasn’t active at all in the trade or free agency space, and rightfully so. After starting the year 0-6, the Swans proved once again they are still one of the AFL’s superpowers as they won 14 of their next 16 games to storm their way into the top eight. In the process, they became the first team in history to make the finals after losing their first six games. If the Swans can avoid a similarly horrendous start to the year in 2018, they will be in the premiership race up to their neck. GWS probably have the best midfield in the competition on paper, but the Swans aren’t far behind. Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker, Isaac Heeney, Jake Lloyd, Kieren Jack and Zak Jones form the nucleus of one of the most feared on-ball divisions in the comp. They also have one of the most potent attacks in the AFL, led brilliantly by arguably the game’s best player – and certainly its best forward – Lance Franklin, who is showing no signs of slowing down having just claimed his fourth Coleman Medal. And their back six did the job again in 2017. They also have some exciting young talent coming through in the form of Heeney, Callum Mills, Will Hayward, Oliver Florent, Jones, George Hewett and Tom Papley – a legacy of their ‘rebuilding on the run’ policy which has seen them debut 19 players in the past three seasons despite being a contender in each. In 2017 on the differentials, the Swans led the way for goals per inside 50, were ranked third for scores per inside 50, third for marks inside 50, fifth for contested marks, seventh for contested possessions, seventh for clearances and eighth for inside 50s – fantastic numbers given their slow start to the year.

Not even the Swans’ incredible run into September could help them avoid a fate often suffered by teams who finish outside the top four, and they were unceremoniously dumped at the semi-final stage by Geelong to the tune of 59 points. It just goes to show how invaluable the double chance is, no matter how good you are and despite the recent trend of teams being bundled out in straight sets. That smashing at the hands of Geelong exposed a few of Sydney’s frailties – a mismatch in defence can cause serious havoc as Paddy Dangerfield displayed with four first-half goals; if Franklin is shut down effectively, then the Swans look very impotent; an opposing team is a huge chance of victory if they can break even with Sydney’s vaunted midfield and deny them the footy; and given the Swans led at quarter-time more often than not in the second half of the season, if you prevent them getting off to a hot start, you’re in with a shot. That’s a pretty long checklist for victory against the Swans, and a very difficult one to completely tick off. It’s little wonder that the Cats and Hawthorn (twice) were the only teams to beat them after round six.

Will Hayward made a seamless transition to senior footy in his debut year, playing 17 games and booting 22 goals. The 19-year-old should only get better next season and looms as a regular member of the Sydney line-up for years to come.

Kurt Tippett’s fall from grace has been complete with his omission from the Swans’ best 22. A forgettable 2017 season ended with him languishing in the NEAFL and taking no part in his team’s finals campaign. The return to form of Sam Reid and Callum Sinclair have cost Tippett his spot. He still has three years to run on his contract, but if he has another stinker next year, those murmurings of a trade will get louder and louder as 2018 rolls on.

B: Nick Smith, Heath Grundy, Dane Rampe
HB: Jarrad McVeigh, Lewis Melican, Callum Mills
C: Isaac Heeney, Josh Kennedy, Jake Lloyd
HF: Gary Rohan, Lance Franklin, Will Hayward
F: Tom Papley, Sam Reid, Callum Sinclair
Foll: Sam Naismith, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker
Inter: Kieren Jack, Nic Newman, Zak Jones, George Hewett
Emerg: Kurt Tippett, Harry Cunningham, Dean Towers

No room for Tippett, Cunningham, Towers, Aliir Aliir, Harry Marsh, Oliver Florent or Daniel Robinson, but most of those guys will ensure competition for spots is hot as the Swans eye off another premiership.

1 Comment
  1. hi ronny,

    are you aware jake lloyd does not play in the midfield at all, not even on the wing?

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