Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Sydney and West Coast have a history of close, hard fought encounters over the last decade. The Eagles’ form so far this season has been good but Sydney never gives up the fight. This game was billed as a big challenge for the Eagles, up against a Finals team from last year after finishing on the bottom of the Ladder. The Swans were the number one tackling team in the competition up to Round 3 and they were expected to bring their best game west to face the Eagles.
As predicted, the game was closely fought, heavily contested all over the ground and with many stoppages. Jessie White was white hot early, snapping the first goal from a free kick and then following up quickly to have the Eagles reeling. The Swans were getting first hands to the ball in front of their opponents and looked crisp and in control. Big Eagle Quinten Lynch kicked his 222nd career goal from a turnover to put the home team on the board. In a controversial call, the goal umpire signaled a point from an obvious Adam Goodes snap that clearly traveled through on the goal side of the post. The Eagles’ zone was working well with the ball being locked down in their forward line. It wasn’t long before Lynch slotted his second goal for the home side. Nic Naitanui performed some brilliance in the closing seconds of the half when he plucked the ball from the boundary throw in and kicked a handy goal from the pocket. At the end of the quarter it was all tied up at 21 points.
It was an even affair in terms of scoring during the second quarter. The Eagles had most possession of the ball and were finally more efficient in their disposals although they struggled to convert possessions into goals. Lewis Jetta put on the afterburners in a contender for goal of the year. He took possession on the wing and sprinted 40 yards, bouncing the ball before kicking a 30 yard end-over-end kick that went through the big sticks. Lynch was again in form and kicked two of the Eagles’ goals in the quarter, but it was Sydney by three points at the end of the first half.
As the match progressed, it was getting harder and harder for players to get free. There were multiple stoppages and scrums around the ball as both teams worked hard to gain an advantage. The Swans were better at keeping the ball in their forward line and kicked the next two goals to take a 17 point lead. Brad Ebert and Josh Kennedy clawed two goals back, Kennedy’s after some more Naitanui magic from a center bounce. He took off from the ruck contest with the ball and hit his forward target in Kennedy to give the Eagles some spark and a six point lead at the end of the third quarter.
West Coast kept the lead well into the last quarter. There was an air of expectation around the crowd that this game was in the bag. Luke Shuey kicked the Eagles' first goal, playing on to advantage after a free kick to Adam Selwood. The new substitute rule had both teams subbing non-injured players for fresh legs and Sydney got the better result. Their substitute Gary Rohan kicked a goal as the pressure increased from both teams. Step up to the plate Adam Goodes who took control of the final minutes of the game in form that was reminiscent of his two Brownlow Medal years. His goal and goal assist play which saw Andrejs Everitt score a six pointer, were enough to run over the Eagles by 13 points. Vintage Sydney!
In the end Sydney did what it always does so well, stick to the game plan and never throw in the towel. Ten out of the past twelve games between these two teams have been decided by two kicks or less. The Eagles had their chances and will be kicking themselves that they let this one slip, after being ahead late into the final term. The Swans are not quite back to their Premiership glory best and may struggle against the powerhouse teams of Geelong and Collingwood, but for this match they were on song.
For David Woodley's photos from the game, click the link below:
Scoreboard West Coast: 3.3 6.8 10.10 13.10 (88) Sydney: 3.3 7.5 9.10 15.11 (101) Best Players West Coast: D Cox, A Embley, W Schofield, M Priddis, Q Lynch Sydney: A Goodes, J Bolton, A Everitt, J Kennedy, S Mumford
Article last changed on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 7:19 AM EDT