The Sydney Swans kept their finals flame flickering with a victory over the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium. The game was won by their stronger bodied midfielders setting up a four goal lead in the first quarter, which the Dockers couldn't to bridge. The Dockers fielded with the most inexperienced team in the competition, with only five players who have played more than 100 games. In total games played, the Sydney team had more than two thousand more games of experience and it was their experienced players who did what needed to be done to keep the Dockers from getting back into the game.
The match opened at a hectic rate with players looking to keep the ball moving. The Dockers booted the first goal within the first minute of play through Josh Treacy who marked strongly and kicked truly. Four minutes later, Seamus Heaney found space and time to kick from sixty meters and register the Swans' first goal, which signaled the start of Sydney's dominance for the quarter. The Swans attacked repeatedly with Luke Parker, Callum Mills, and Heaney driving them forward. Alex Pearce played on Sydney's Lance (Buddy) Franklin and was successful in stopping several attacks. Luke Ryan also gave Pearce good support in the air. Under pressure, the young Dockers fumbled in the presence of the Sydney midfielders and turned the ball over. Sydney made them pay. Will Hayward was active up forward for Sydney and booted consecutive goals, followed by goals from Logan McDonald and Mills. Sydney dominated center clearances despite Luke Jackson winning the rucks for Fremantle. If the ball hit the ground Sydney won it. Papley found some space to kick truly after Chad Warner had dispossessed the Dockers' Caleb Serong in Sydney's forward line. The Dockers gained some relief just before the first break with clever work by Michael Frederick, who won a contested ball to kick to Sam Switkowski who slotted the Dockers second goal; but by then the damage had been done by Sydney.
In the second quarter, both teams continued with an open and entertaining style of play. After three minutes, youngster Errol Gulden gathered the ball in a pack and snapped Sydney's seventh goal. The Dockers fought back with stronger tackling and won more contested possessions which stopped Sydney's dominance. Defensive pressure from Docker forwards allowed Andrew Brayshaw to punish Sydney, for a defensive error, with a close range goal. James Rowbottom applied plenty of on ball pressure for Sydney. The next goal came from a Docker turnover on the wing which ended with Mills booting Sydney's eighth goal. At the sixteen-minute mark Jye Amiss took a massive mark (catch) in a pack, to boot the Dockers' fourth goal. Three minutes later Sydney worked the ball from defense to see Will Hayward shoot a low pass to Buddy Franklin, who marked and slotted his first major from forty-five meters on the boundary. At the restart Sydney won a center clearance and Hayward finished with a goal of his own from point blank range. It was left to Michael Frederick to take a clever mark over his shoulder, to again goal for the Dockers just before the main break. Despite the fact that the Dockers broke even with Sydney in most areas of the game, Sydney had increased their lead during the quarter because they were more efficient in their forward line.
The Dockers came out firing after the main break. In the first twenty-six seconds, Jackson completed some strong ruck work and ran forward to handball to Lachie Schultz who goaled. Two minutes later Michael Walters manufactured an excellent goal after reading the ball off hands, to bring the Dockers within three goals of the Swans. Sydney responded quickly and after Franklin was infringed by Pearce, Franklin kicked truly. At the next bounce down, Sydney cleared, and Franklin took a juggled mark. He kicked beautifully to Papley who marked and goaled and Sydney had restored their lead. The pace of the game went up a notch with the Dockers winning more midfield balls through Serong, Brayshaw, and Jaegar O'Meara. Former North Melbourne player Corey Wagner pushed the Dockers into attack with a good pass to Sam Sturt, who marked and kicked a goal from fifty meters. But it was Franklin who again who stood up for Sydney and took a strong mark to boot the Saints thirteenth goal. Michael Frederick became involved again for Fremantle when he passed to Schultz, who kicked truly from thirty meters. Fremantle had made seventeen forward thrusts to Sydney's eight for the quarter, but it was Buddy Franklin imposing himself on the Docker defenders that kept the score board ticking over for Sydney. Fremantle had crept closer but not by much.
In the final quarter the Dockers again dominated midfield play and were rewarded by Lachie Shultz booting his third goal at the six minute mark. Sydney won the next center clearance and Logan McDonald replied for the Swans. Four minutes later Schultz booted his fourth, but Chad Warner gave a quick reply for Sydney. The Dockers continued to fight hard and at the sixteen minute mark Walters booted his second. From there Sydney slowed play down and retained possession by playing short kicks and taking marks to chew up time. The Dockers couldn't get their hands on the ball as the Swans ran the clock down to preserve their lead. A good mark by Heaney and an accurate set shot on the final siren finished a solid performance by Sydney. The young Dockers were not disgraced but have yet again paid the price for a poor first quarter.
Next week the Swans head to Marvel Stadium to meet the Essendon Bombers in a match the Swans must win to stay in the race for the finals. The Dockers head to GMHBA Stadium to meet the Geelong Cats, where the resurgent Cats will start as short-priced favorites.
Scores Fremantle Dockers: 2.1 5.1 9.2 12.4 (76) Sydney Swans: 6.2 10.5 13.7 16.9 (105) Best Fremantle Dockers: Serong, Shultz, Jackson, Brayshaw, Ryan Sydney Swans: Parker, Mills, Rowbottom, Papley, Franklin
Article last changed on Monday, July 24, 2023 - 4:01 AM EDT