On their way: Shane Mumford (right) celebrates kicking a goal for the Swans. Photo: Joe Armao
His players were relieved to see off a challenge from the Western Bulldogs that was Swans-like in its intensity, and as his team moved to second on the ladder, coach John Longmire was buoyed by the performance of recruit Kurt Tippett, who underscored his threat to be a major player in Sydney's premiership defence.
The former Crow had kicked 15 goals in his first five games as a Swan, but his six goals straight were the difference in a game Longmire said was ''a real battle for us'' in which the Bulldogs won the significant statistical indicators and were far closer to causing an upset than the eventual 35-point margin indicated.
''We think he's been really good since the first game he played for us,'' Longmire said of Tippett. ''A long time out of the game, he came straight back into the team and he's been playing well for us every week.
AFL Round 19: Sydney Swans v Western Bulldogs
Swans Ted Richards chest mark in the goal square. Photo: Joe Armao
''Certainly kicking straight helped him. He's been having a few shots at goal and to be able to hit the scoreboard without missing meant he was pretty important for us and really helped us.''
The Bulldogs laid 95 tackles to Sydney's 77, had more contested and uncontested possessions, clearances and inside-50s, none of which surprised Longmire. ''We knew that the Bulldogs had improved pretty dramatically, particularly over the last month.
''They were really good … their pressure around the ball was really strong and their outside runners have really gone to a new level.''
Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney bemoaned ''two little patches where some young minds and young bodies got a bit lost'' after the Swans kicked five goals in eight minutes either side of three-quarter time. He said his glass was half full, but was disappointed not to have got closer and clearly determined to bring the same effort against Carlton next weekend. ''We want to win some games in the next month,'' he said. ''We don't care who it's against, but we want to put ourselves in a position to win some games.''
Luke Dahlhaus suffered a suspected broken nose but his coach was rapt to see him backing into the contest, predicting he and Jason Tutt will cause headaches for opposition defences in the closing weeks of the season while hailing Lachie Hunter's best game as a ''find'' for the Dogs.
Without naming the game, Longmire pointed to Hawthorn's loss to Richmond as evidence that it's pointless looking too far ahead. ''That's why we were so pleased to get the win, to come down here and win against a team that's really improved was a real credit to our players.''
While McCartney hopes to get captain Matthew Boyd back to face the Blues, Longmire will be patient with Adam Goodes, Sam Reid and Leroy Jetta as September looms.
''We're not expecting those blokes to come in in the next couple of weeks. Reidy's running really well … but he's had two quads and we need to be reasonably conservative with him. Goodesy will be running outside this week and so is Jetta. So you'd expect them to be three to four weeks away.''