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Wow, Jetta gives Sydney an edge

Date

Robert Walls

Lewis Jetta is bringing a little razzle dazzle to the Swans team.

Lewis Jetta is bringing a little razzle dazzle to the Swans team. Photo: Getty Images

SYDNEY, which is sitting 8-3, is on track to play finals for the 14th time in the past 17 seasons. It's a wonderful record of consistency; one that no other club can boast.

Rodney Eade started the run in 1996 when, in his first season as coach, he lifted the team from 12th into the grand final. Then Paul Roos' record of seven finals series in eight seasons was a super effort. Now, John Longmire has maintained the standard.

The disappointment for Sydney fans is that there is only one premiership - 2005 - for all that September action. Will it be the same again in 2012? Another solid season, but no silverware to show for it?

Last year, the Swans were a solid, hard-working team but lacked flair. They started well, fell away and then hit form running into the finals. They were a team that won a lot of contested ball, dominated the clearances, tackled feverishly and kicked long. But they didn't play on much, didn't handball a lot, averaged only 12 goals a game, and the spread of goalkickers was thin.

To become a top-four club, the Swans desperately needed speed and dare to go with the grunt and grind that serves them so well.

It appears they've found it.

Enter Lewis Jetta. The skinny winger-cum-half-forward from Swan Districts is in his third year at Sydney. But, boy, has he arrived.

In his first season, he became somewhat of a novelty: he just couldn't kick a goal. He set an unwanted record of 19 behinds before he finally kicked truly. Last year, he set another record: he was Sydney's starting substitute five times. Averaging just under nine possessions a game, he was dropped for Sydney's two finals matches. His future was uncertain.

It appears that over summer, Kieren Jack, one of the Swans' hardest trainers, took Jetta under his wing. End result: Jetta developed a big tank and a heap of confidence. He was ready to take the game on. With his speed, class and new-found fitness, he has emerged as the most improved player in the AFL.

Jetta leads the Swans' goalkicking with 27 - 13 ahead of the next best. He is ranked second for overall kicks, and kicks into the forward 50. His scoring assists are also impressive. He is averaging almost 17 disposals a game, defends much better and wins a lot more contested ball. With his explosive run, carry and classy finishing, he has given Sydney a ''wow'' factor.

If the All-Australian team was selected today, he would be in it on a half-forward flank.

Assisting Jetta with dash and delivery is his plucky mentor, Jack. The soon-to-turn 25-year-old has just played his 100th game and has come of age as a footballer.

Roos gave a young Jack run-with roles on the opposition's gun midfielders. He quickly learnt when and where to run. Now he is a gun himself. In 2010, he won the club best and fairest. Last year, he struggled with injuries and couldn't find a spot in the top 10 of the club award. This year, he has risen to another level. He is quick, courageous and skilful. Now he kicks and creates goals. He can run all day and at the stoppages he complements the hardness of Josh Kennedy and Jude Bolton.

A big test for Jetta and Jack will be whether they can handle the tags their good form has ensured will come their way.

Recognising the need for speed, Longmire recruited Tony Armstrong from Adelaide. Players love being traded to the Swans because they inevitably get better.

Now getting senior games, Armstrong provides dash off half-back. With Adam Goodes and Ben McGlynn returning after injury, you sense this Sydney team will be the quickest for years.

It means the coach can switch to a more attacking game plan when needed. Last year, the Swans were ranked last for handballs. Now they are ranked sixth as they move the ball on a lot quicker.

Last year, the Swans averaged 86 points a game. Now, it's 101. The emphasis in the AFL over the past couple of seasons has been to be more offensive. Longmire has read the play and adapted.

Tonight's match at the SCG is a massive one for Sydney. If it beats Geelong, finals are just about assured. Goodes and ruckman Shane Mumford will have time to run into form before September and you would expect key forward Sam Reid to play better in the second half of the season.

If the stars align for Sydney in a season where the premiership is up for grabs, you just never know.

It took the Swans 72 years to win their fourth premiership. It might only take another seven to secure the fifth.

5 comments

  • Still need to convert the inside 50s into points more effectively to convince me that the Swans can go all the way. Mind you, it's always better to be spending more time in your attacking half. Game against the Cats tonight could be a cracker.

    Commenter
    Nincompoop
    Location
    Brewongle Concourse
    Date and time
    June 22, 2012, 8:46AM
    • John Longmire has done a terrific job reinventing the Bloods' game plan and don't all footy fans love it! Paul Roos has to also be given much credit for recruiting players such as Jetta, Rohan, Kennedy, McGlynn, Reid and of course Big Mummy to the club just before his retirement. All bodes well for the once "ugly ducklings" who could go all the way in this very open season. Tonights game could be season defining for both clubs. Go Bloods!

      Commenter
      Sid Arthur
      Location
      old stand at the Lake Oval
      Date and time
      June 22, 2012, 9:51AM
      • Wallsy, nice to see you recognizing and acknowledging the Swans as a viable finals chance for a change. In the past you have been nothing but critical of the team, coaches and their style of play. You getting on the bandwagon now? Not sure there's room for you.

        Commenter
        Kate
        Location
        South of Sydney
        Date and time
        June 22, 2012, 11:33AM
        • Hi Robert, I mostly agree with this analysis, Lewis Jetta has become an excellent AFL player and has provided another dimension to the Swans. I disagree slightly with your analysis that he is the most improved player in the AFL, almost every team has 1 or 2 players that have greatly improved. My pick for most improved is Patrick Dangerfield, his strength, pace, toughness and skill is amazing to watch and is a large contributor to Adelaide's improved position this year!!!!

          Commenter
          SimonTigey
          Location
          Adelaide
          Date and time
          June 22, 2012, 2:46PM
          • Go the jetstar

            Commenter
            Mark
            Date and time
            June 22, 2012, 3:20PM
            Comments are now closed
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