The Sydney Swans didn’t just defeat the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium, they comprehensively thrashed them to hand the Eagles their biggest home game loss in the club’s history. The Swans were without Buddy Franklin, who has made a habit of tormenting the Eagles at Optus and veteran midfielder, Josh Kennedy, who was rested for the game. The Eagles virtually rested their own Josh Kennedy in the first quarter as the ball rarely got near their big forward. The Swans had a massive 21 forward entries in the opening term, while West Coast could only manage four. Sydneys’ reserve ruckman Peter Ladhams dominated in the ruck to highlight the extended absence of the Eagles’ ruckman Nic Naitanui. The Eagles' midfielders Elliot Yeo, Tim Kelly and Luke Shuey, who were all returning from extended layoffs, barely touched leather in the opening quarter as Sydney’s Callum Mills, Isaac Heeney and Errol Gulden did as they liked. Tall forwards Hayden McLean and Logan McDonald dominated in the air and kicked two goals apiece and a busy Ben Ronke booted a goal after two early misses. The lopsided first quarter score line flattered the Eagles as Sydney missed some very gettable shots.
The second quarter was more of the same. The young Sydney side sliced through the slow Eagles midfield in what looked little more than a training run for Sydney. James Bell soccered a Sydney goal eighteen seconds after play restarted, with additional goals kicked by Heeny and Chad Walker before the Eagles registered their first score, seventeen minutes into the quarter. Liam Ryan kicked truly from a free kick to finally give the Eagle supporters something to cheer. Josh Kennedy showed some old magic with a clever spin and snap for goal just before the end of the quarter and the Eagles had scored their second goal. However, the game was all but over.
After the main break the Eagles lifted their running and were able to get more players into the contest. Their pressure on the Sydney ball carriers was solid and it stopped Sydney’s run. The game degenerated into a game of stoppages as neither team could find space to use the ball. Jack Redden and Liam Ryan added a goal each for the quarter, while Sydney’s Luke Parker scored the only Sydney goal. Luke Shuey worked himself into the midfield contest to assist Patrick Naish, Jack Redden and Liam Duggan who struggled manfully against the pacy Sydney midfield. Alex Witherden virtually played a lone hand in defense, although Tom Barrass took a few good intercept marks.
IN the final stanza the Eagles were given a faint hope of moving from total embarrassment when Bailey Williams brought the margin down to 40 points. However, Sydney sprang back into life with two goals a piece to Heeney and Will Hayward. Late goals to Jack Darling, Jamie Cripps and Liam Ryan gave the Eagles’ score line more respectability, but by that stage, Sydney had well and truly taken their pedal off the metal.
The Eagles are the second oldest team in the competition and it showed against a Sydney team that had seventeen players at, or below, the age of 25. It was the Sydney younger players who were providing the spark and enthusiasm for their team. Justin McInerney, James Rowbottom, Chad Warner, Oliver Florent and Will Hayward make up a core of young skilled players who will win a lot of games for Sydney in the years to come. The Eagles have serious issues. Their older stars appeared slow and lacking desperation. The team made uncharacteristic mistakes far too often, even Shannon Hurn, who is normally the most reliable player in the team turned the ball over six times during the game. Kennedy missed shots he would normally get, Elliott Yeo was ineffective and Jack Darling was a non-entity. It will be a long season for West Coast and they will be hoping to get their senior players into form as soon as possible.
Next week Sydney meet a revitalized Hawthorn Hawks who will be tough to beat in Tasmania. The Eagles travel to Adelaide to play Port Adelaide Power. The Power were expected to make the finals this year but are currently winless at the bottom of the table. The Eagles can expect fireworks from the Power who will be desperate to get a win on the board.
Scores West Coast Eagles: 0.0 2.0 4.3 9.4 (58) Sydney Swans: 5.4 10.10 11.12 18.13 (121) Best West Coast Eagles: Naish, Witherden, Duggan, Shuey, Witherden, Ryan Sydney Swans: Mills, Gulden, Parker, Ladhams, Heeney
Article last changed on Saturday, April 30, 2022 - 3:43 PM EDT