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Lance Franklin fizzles as the Sydney Swans are swamped by Kangaroos

Sydney 6.12 (48) North Melbourne 13.13 (91)

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Swans swamped by Kangaroos

North Melbourne proved superior in the soggy conditions, defeating the Sydney Swans by 43 points at the SCG on Sunday.

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On the day that Sydney farewelled Jude Bolton, the team he left behind could have benefited from having the retired warrior on the other side of the boundary line.

Instead, Bolton, a renowned mudlark, was in a commentary box lamenting another disconcertingly substandard performance by the Swans, who sank to a sobering defeat - this time by 43 points to a North Melbourne team which outran and outtackled the hosts.

The Swans' credentials as a premiership fancy are edging closer to oblivion after their latest abject failure, and their woes run deeper than the underwhelming form of prized recruit Lance Franklin, who was held goalless and comprehensively beaten by Scott Thompson.

Battle: Kieren Jack battled hard in the Swans loss to the Kangaroos.

Battle: Kieren Jack battled hard in the Swans loss to the Kangaroos. Photo: Anthony Johnson

His dirty day was capped off by being booked for striking Thompson in the last quarter, although the hit was of negligible impact.

There was a time when the Swans were near unbeatable in the wet but, it appears, not so this year.

The Swans' performance left the 25,505 fans who braved the autumnal rains for the club's first game of the season at the SCG with little to cheer about.

Lonely figure: Lance Franklin of the Swans again disappointed.

Lonely figure: Lance Franklin of the Swans again disappointed. Photo: Getty Images

The defeat was Sydney's first to North since 2007, when that club was officially known as the Kangaroos, and leaves them perilously placed at 1-3 with a tough match to come next week at home against Fremantle.

Even more worrying for the club, however, was their inability to produce what they describe as their trademark football: they were beaten in close by North and smashed when the ball spilt free.

Seldom have the Swans produced such a stinker at the SCG - their return of 6.12 (48) was their fourth lowest at the venue.

Hungry: The Kangaroos outnumbered in Swans in the SCG swamp.

Hungry: The Kangaroos outnumbered in Swans in the SCG swamp. Photo: Anthony Johnson

And they were not without their opportunities either, given the Swans had 66 inside-50s compared to North's 48. Sydney's long bombs were generally more advantageous to Brad Scott's extra man back.

"We didn't use the ball to the level we know we can and should, but that gets back to general pressure and hardness," said John Longmire.

"It's amazing how well we use the ball when we get it up to the level we need to."

Kieren Jack Marks in action. Click for more photos

AFL - Sydney Swans vs North Melbourne

All the action from the game as the Sydney Swans take on North Melbourne at the Sydney Cricket Ground. April 13, 2014. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Bolton is too modest to think he could have made a difference, but each Swan could have done worse than channel the spirit of the former No.24 in the trying conditions.

Instead, it was the side whose home is the indoor Etihad Stadium which adapted better to the wet.

With the ball resembling a Sherrin-shaped cake of soap, there were few easy possessions, unless you were a North Melbourne defender in the first quarter and, in particular, wearing the No.16.

Scott Thompson has endured some dark moments next to Franklin, not least when Franklin kicked 13 goals against the Roos in Launceston two years ago, but his last two outings have produced happier memories.

For the second consecutive occasion, not only did Thompson keep Franklin to just one behind, he set up many of his team's rebounds with his ability to intercept Sydney's forward thrusts.

Thompson was instrumental in gaining North the ascendancy in the first half, as Sydney repeatedly broke down across half-forward.

That it took a defender, Jeremy Laidler, to kick two of their first three goals underlined their forwards' struggles. That they produced four goals in three quarters provided the exclamation mark.

Worse still for the Swans, North's extra number in defence allowed the likes of Thompson, Nathan Grima and Nick Dal Santo to ferry the ball out of danger with surprising ease in the conditions.

Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker held their own in the clinches but North won through weight of numbers, with Ben Cunnington, Leigh Adams, Daniel Wells all playing key roles.

This told in the second half when, instead of being subjected to a belated charge from the Swans, North drew away, with goals in the final quarter to Aaron Mullett, Adams and Wells ensuring another dark day for one of pre-season premiership fancies.

33 comments so far

  • Buddy, can your spare a goal?

    Commenter
    Trashman
    Date and time
    April 13, 2014, 4:37PM
    • Buddy is not at fault!!! It is the coach....Sydney is playing ugly footbal. Everyone just seems to panic when they get the ball. Lack of common sense when it comes to ball handling and general play. I wish they could look at how Geelong, Hawthorn or Bulldogs play..

      Commenter
      hs
      Location
      syd
      Date and time
      April 14, 2014, 10:12AM
    • Buddy could have been more effective in the midfield...but he was left to hang in front with a person who kept fouling him in the general play ....and the referee was blinded by the rain!! Yesterdays match was only a passing cloud for Buddy...

      Commenter
      hs
      Location
      syd
      Date and time
      April 14, 2014, 10:21AM
  • What a great buy Sydney. Buddy is worth every cent.

    Commenter
    Lone Wolf
    Date and time
    April 13, 2014, 4:42PM
    • Buddy has always been a 'good with bad' player. Sydney paid a high price for the 'good' Buddy, however, they must accept that along with this comes Buddy's not so good days. He was comprehensively outplayed by Thompson today (those thirteen goals two season's past obviously are a burning influence for the kanga's back!) Realistically, Sydney's hopes of finishing top four look dashed for this year so its probably time they set a new target for 2014.

      Commenter
      br
      Date and time
      April 13, 2014, 8:35PM
    • It's not Franklin's fault, he took the deal on offer. The Swans are clearly missing the grunt of Mumford in the ruck and Pike is not coping as well as I'm sure was hoped, the load on him is enormous. They are also blooding a number of youngsters Like Derricx, Cunningham, Laidler and Mitchell, that's a big chunk of the team. What I am seeing that concerns me is the drop in basic skills of players like McVeigh ans Shaw. Shaw has clearly lost pace and Macca seems to be fumbling a hell of a lot. Jack doesn't seem as slippery (pun intended) as he has been in past seasons. They adjusting to a new game plan, it may not pay off this season but let's wait and see if they can pull it together.

      Commenter
      eyeroll
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 14, 2014, 8:26AM
  • So, NM comprehensively dismantle Sydney and surge to their 3rd straight win. For the second week in a row, they extend the lead in the 4th qtr and take a huge step towards burying the demons of last year when we lost many close games. But for The Age, the story and headline centre around Sydney? Seriously, the lack of respect is disgraceful. This story should have a headline and content that focuses on the winning side.

    Commenter
    Bow
    Date and time
    April 13, 2014, 4:58PM
    • Much the same yesterday - Melbourne wins their first game in ages, and all anyone can talk about is Carlton. Unfortunately in our society we seem to focus on losers rather than winners.

      Commenter
      Stephen
      Date and time
      April 13, 2014, 6:15PM
    • Bow - the Age and SMH share stories. Just because the article appears on the Age does not mean the article was written in Melbourne, by a Melbourne-based journalist.

      If you took the time to check, you would see that this story was written by Andrew Wu, who is a Sydney based journalist, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, which is entirely appropriate considering it was a Sydney home game.

      Can you follow all that?

      There's a big world outside of Melbourne. Take a look, you might like it.

      Commenter
      Roger
      Location
      SYDNEY
      Date and time
      April 13, 2014, 7:51PM
    • Agree. I was there. North played a high-standard game in sub-standard conditions and were the better team all day except for the second quarter, which was pretty even in general play across the 30 minutes. Some of their field kicking and the marks taken on the end of them were of the highest order.

      I'm a Sydney supporter, but it disappoints me that North don't appear to be getting the credit they deserve for that win.

      Sydney's defenders will know they've played a game - they were under intense pressure all day, even though a lot of them played quite well, which may seem strange to say. They saved a lot, and I mean a lot, of goals - stats just don't tell the story most of the time I reckon.

      44 or 48 inside fifties that were nearly always threatening against a whole lot more from Sydney that were inept more often than not.

      North are a good side based on what I saw on Sunday.

      Wells was outstanding. Harvey hasn't lost his pace and would get a game at any club. Black looks like one right out of the box - first time I'd seen him and his agility was a highlight of the match, Petrie is very good player, the grunt men get in and get dirty....I was impressed, particularly with Wells.

      Commenter
      Peter Cain
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 14, 2014, 3:49AM

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