Sydney recorded its 11th win in a row over the West Coast Eagles at a rain drenched Patersons Stadium and now the Swans sit on top of the Ladder, one game clear of the rest of the field. Although the game was a hard fought contest in trying conditions, Sydney showed its class and finished stronger with three goals in the last quarter to knock the Eagles out of the fight.
Josh Kennedy found himself in hot water with the Match Review Panel* after he collected Zak Jones in the head early in the game. Jones was substituted out with concussion and Brandon Jack came on earlier than the Swans would have liked. Jack Darling kicked the opening goal of the match and it was the only time that the Eagles led. Adam Goodes was playing his 341st game - the most played by an indigenous player - and he celebrated his milestone by kicking a brilliant goal with a snap from the forward pocket. The Swans had more use of the ball and were dominating the game in their forward zone. On the upside for West Coast, players were battling hard and Kennedy and Matt Priddis posted goals to keep the Eagles in the hunt. Their forward pressure paid dividends early on but, as the half moved on, the ball was finding its way over the midfield congestion and setting up scoring opportunities for Sydney. The Swans had eight behinds (points) either rushed or kicked in the second quarter and could easily have put the game beyond doubt had they converted more of their chances.
There was a terrific contest all day between million-dollar man Buddy Franklin at full forward and battler defender Eric Mackenzie. They were in each others' pockets at every contest with Mackenzie effectively nullifying Franklin’s influence for most of the game. Sydney’s midfield continued racking up possessions with Lewis Jetta among their best. His clean takes and speedy run opened up the game in the poor conditions. Goals were hard to come by with both teams kicking only two apiece in the third quarter. West Coast substituted Jeremy McGovern for Sam Butler in an attempt to provide more run in the heavy weather. The move had some effect because the Eagles kicked it up a gear and produced some fierce attacking football when the ball was in dispute.
Sydney’s class under pressure won through in the end however and the Swans booted three goals in a row to put the finishing touches on the game. Kennedy scored a consolation goal for the Eagles late but it was all over. A serious shoulder injury to Matt Rosa had a negative effect on the Eagles' rotations and subsequent player rest periods. By the end of the match both teams were out on their feet through exhaustion.
Although it wasn’t the epic finish that these two teams have shown in past encounters, it was a hard fought match with neither side giving an inch. The Swans have firmed to Premiership favorite status as they keep stringing together consecutive wins in the business end of the season. West Coast’s Finals' hopes are over for 2014 as the divide between the Top Eight and the “also rans” is widening.
* Editors note: Kennedy earned a three match ban for the head high clash but with his good record and by pleading guilty he can accept a one match ban.
Scoreboard West Coast: 2.2 4.5 6.7 7.9 (51) Sydney: 3.4 5.12 7.14 10.19 (79) Best Players West Coast: Priddis, Mackenzie, Kennedy, Hurn, Shuey Sydney: Parker, McGlynn, Bird, Rampi, Richards
Article last changed on Monday, July 07, 2014 - 8:56 PM EDT