22/04/2024

Chad Warner was crucial for the Swans in their commanding win over Collingwood on Friday night (Photo: Joshua Davis/Files)

The Sydney Swans have shocked reigning premier Collingwood by 33 points at the MCG on Friday night.

On an evening that was meant for celebration as the Pies unfurled their premiership flag, it was anything but as Sydney challenged them from the outset.

The Swans started with a ferocious appetite for the contest, led strongly by young midfielder James Rowbottom, who set the tone in the absence of more senior players. Despite their field dominance the Pies successfully capitalised on their limited chances, kicking two goals from their first two entries.

It looks as though Longmire’s men would rue their missed chances, kicking 2.6 to trail Collingwood by a solitary point at quarter time.

The second term started with a bang for the Bloods, as they have five goals in the first 14 minutes, led by two from rising forward Logan McDonald..

By that stage the lead had ballooned out to five goals and the alarm bells were ringing loudly for Craig McRae and his coaching staff. The Pies were seemingly being cut open of back half turnovers, with a worrying inability to defend those plays.

A positive for Collingwood in all of this was their ability to still win centre clearance, and with the good work of Nick Daicos and Jordan De Goey, they were able to kick the final two goals of the quarter to reduce the margin to 18 points at the half.

Sydney again came out of halftime strongly kicking five unanswered goals throughout the third quarter. Late in the term McDonald had kicked four as the Bloods continued to dominate their opposition with speed and precision.

Chad Warner and Isaac Heeney were having major impacts to that point, helping their team to a commanding 41-point lead going into the final break.

In recent years we have seen Collingwood come back from positions like this to win so often, they couldn’t do it again could they?

Despite kicking the first goal of the term through livewire Jamie Elliot, they teased but never threatened. The Swans rattling off the next three to seal the game with a lead of over 50 points.

The Pies kicked late consolation goals but it was too late, as the siren sounded on what was a beautiful night for the South Melbourne faithful. The Swans ran out 33-point victors in front of a 78,933 strong crowd.

On a night that was meant to be filled with joy, the Pies produced one of their worst performances in recent times. The most damming statistic for Collingwood will be that they conceded 11 goals from turnovers, while letting their opposition score over 100 for the second successive week.

In the Pies best were Daicos, Darcy Cameron and Brayden Maynard, all standing tall on a tough night. While for the Swans Chad Warner, Errol Gulden, Heeney, Rowbottom and McDonald were dominant in the dazzling display.

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Collingwood coach Craig McRae labelled their aerial and turnover game as “pretty poor” on a tough night for the reigning Premiers.

“Aerial power in the defensive fifty has been an issue, too many marks in those one on ones or two on two. So we’ve got to get to work on that,” he said.

“I thought tonight our turnover game was pretty poor – where we turned the ball over. I’m not sure we’ve been doing that in recent time.”

Despite uncharacteristic errors and game plan execution, McRae is confident the team can turn things around quickly.

“It makes it more positive; this is all within our control of the things we can control. We’re confident we can get back on track, like you said the people making these decision[s], they’re not rookies.”

Sydney coach John Longmire was buoyed by his team’s performance as well as the emerging crop of young stars he has at his disposal.

“To play like we did tonight, it was only small windows we gave them [Collingwood]. We thought our intent, our connectiveness across the ground was really good,” he said.

“I think there was six 23 and under midfielders running around, there’s plenty of youth out there. They’ve played a bit of footy together now and had some confidence in what they’ve been able to do over the pre-season.”

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