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Swans romp home against lacklustre Suns



Swans romp home against lacklustre Suns

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Pity, if you will, the poor Sydney Swans.

Imagine waltzing to a grand final ahead of schedule, with a ripe crop of emerging talent, only to stumble at the last hurdle and coming to the Gold Coast for round one the following year to find yourselves the side under the microscope.


It’s the Suns who should be feeling the heat

No one ever said footy was fair. Yes, history says teams that get monstered in grand finals – as the Swans were last year by Geelong – don’t back up well the following year. And more recent history shows the Suns have persistently troubled the Swans. But it was the Swans who monstered the Suns on Saturday night, catching them on the nod early, then cruising to a 49-point win. Really, it’s the Suns – still looking for a debut finals berth in their 12th year in the competition – who should be the ones feeling the heat. Sydney 16.14 (110) defeated Gold Coast 9.7 (61).


Buddy on fire

But for the first half-hour, the Suns didn’t give a yelp, and it was Lance Franklin who made the biggest early statement. Buddy barely had a touch in last year’s decider, largely due to the fact that the Sherrin rarely ventured into his half of the ground. Within 10 minutes of the bounce at the renamed Heritage Bank Stadium, Franklin had kicked (career) goals 1048, then 1049. He had another taken off him for a high fend-off, then dished off another with an exquisite field kick to Dylan Stephens.

Franklin in trouble?

Franklin could come under scrutiny during the week, though, for a high bump that left his opponent Sam Collins dazed. A raised elbow that didn’t connect earlier in the game might raise some eyebrows, too.

Swans restore advantage

It wasn’t until the last 90 seconds of the first quarter, with the Swans already up by 33 points, that Noah Anderson scrambled the Suns’ first goal of the season. Sam Flanders had another on the stroke of quarter-time to give them a pulse. Former skipper David Swallow turned that pulse into a heartbeat with a third goal in two minutes of playing time early in the second. But by the end of the half, the Swans had restored a 29-point advantage and were playing like they were the team with a point to prove. A six-goal third quarter made that point with emphasis, quickly putting the game to bed. If class is permanent, as the saying goes, then a bad day at the office last September hasn’t robbed the likes of Errol Gulden, Chad Warner, Callum Mills and Ollie Florent of it. Still, they’ll face sterner opposition than the Suns provided. At times, the match looked more like a training drill, with the Suns barely competitive at times. Where was the anticipation and intensity – the excitement, even – that an opening-round game demands?

Port Adelaide’s recruits deliver the goods

Port Adelaide’s pair of prized recruits have made instant impacts in a 54-point belting of the Brisbane Lions. Jason Horne-Francis was best-afield and Junior Rioli slotted three goals in the Power’s resounding 18.18 (126) to 11.6 (72) triumph at Adelaide Oval.

Horne-Francis and Rioli shine

Horne-Francis was superb with his 25 disposals featuring 10 inside 50s, 11 score involvements and a goal – and he sparked a match-winning Power surge in the third term. After trailing by 10 points at half-time, Port booted eight goals to one in a decisive third quarter. Horne-Francis, the 2021 No.1 draft pick who walked out on North Melbourne after one season, ran rampant in the onslaught with a dozen touches, five inside 50s and three clearances for the term. And ex-Eagle Rioli was an ever-present threat to the lacklustre Lions, who were well served by their own key signing, former Bulldog Josh Dunkley.

Dominant third quarter

Dunkley gathered 19 disposals and seven clearances, veteran Daniel Rich was most influential with 26 touches while Lachie Neale was relatively subdued with 20 possessions. Brisbane were collectively overwhelmed after making the early running in a dominant second stanza punctuated by Port’s Charlie Dixon blowing up.

Port Adelaide’s tall forwards impress

An abusive Dixon gave away consecutive 50m penalties when penalised for a high tackle on Rich and the Lion goaled – the first of six majors as the visitors crafted an 18-point lead. Dixon paid off some of his debt with a goal after the halftime siren to leave the Power 12 points down. And Horne-Francis then took the spotlight with his third-term feats as the Lions wilted. Port’s tall forwards Todd Marshall (four goals) and Dixon (3.3) complemented Rioli’s eye-catching haul which featured a spectacular high mark.

Midfield dominance

Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines (29 disposals) and Zak Butters (24 touches) helped Horne-Francis rule the midfield, while backmen Ryan Burton (24) and Darcy Byrne-Jones (27) were prolific ball-winners. Brisbane’s hyped debutant Will Ashcroft snapped a classy goal among his 13 touches. And ex-Hawk Jack Gunston and Zac Bailey scored two goals apiece on a well-held Lions forward line.



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