Sydney players will be kicking themselves after letting the First Qualifying Final slip out of their grasp against the Fremantle Dockers. The Swans' inaccurate kicking on goal let them down - they kicked 18 points, two of them within minutes of the end of the game where they could have snatched a thrilling victory. Sydney looked the better team at the end of the day and despite letting the Dockers out to a commanding lead, they were always in the hunt, right to the final siren.
Fremantle put Sydney on the back foot with four quick goals in the opening term. Small forward Michael Walters booted two of the early goals against a gale force wind favoring Sydney’s end. Sydney players were spraying the ball badly when they kicked on goals and they had six minor scores on the board before Sam Reid finally straightened one up for a goal. Sadly for Reid, it was his last major play in the game as soon after he pulled a hamstring and substitute Zac Jones made an early entry into the match.Great sides are always lurking, despite being behind on the scoreboard and the Swans always looked a chance to win the match because Fremantle couldn’t score heavily enough to put them away. The Swans weren’t doing themselves any favors however by scoring behinds when they should have been kicking goals. Even when Kurt Tippett scored their second goal for the half, there wasn’t much to show for the determination and doggedness of Sydney fight.
When Hayden Ballantyne scored his second goal to take the lead out to a game high 24 points, Fremantle could have run away with the game. But the wind still held some advantages for the Swans and assisted Jeremy Laidler with a prodigious 60 meter kick on the wind for their third goal. Jarrad McVeigh followed up soon after with a magnificent right foot banana kick from deep in the pocket and with back to back goals, Sydney were back in the hunt.
Josh Kennedy was Sydney’s inspiration. He was a ball magnet and was the difference between the two teams in the Swans' comeback. He had 16 possessions in the third quarter and although he didn’t kick a goal, was instrumental in giving his team the belief that they could win. If only they could convert their opportunities on goal!
Sydney played better football and almost doubled the tackle count, causing the Dockers to rush their disposals. The Swans simply would not go away and were constantly harassing the Fremantle ball carriers with their ferocity. A couple of goals to Fremantle in the final quarter gave them some breathing space but Tippett rose to the occasion and kicked two goals that saw the game in the balance again. Had his teammates kicked some very gettable goals late in the game, it would have been a different story. Two easy chances missed in the dying stages by Gary Rowan and Isaac Heeney had Sydney trailing by nine points rather than taking the lead.
That was where it ended up and Sydney - with 25 scoring shots to 19 - had lost the game. Poor kicking is poor football and the Swans will be left to go the difficult route of playing every week in sudden death games to make the Grand Final. Fremantle gets a week off and will take on the winner of the First Semi-Final played next week.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 4.1 6.4 8.8 10.9 (69) Sydney: 1.6 2.11 5.13 7.18 (60) Best Players Fremantle: Fyfe, Walters, Mundy, Sandilands, Hill Sydney: Kennedy, Hannebery, Shaw, Goodes, Grundy
Article last changed on Saturday, November 10, 2018 - 6:05 PM EST