Brodie Grundy had his first hit-out in Sydney colours today (Photo: Joshua Davis / The Inner Sanctum)

Brodie Grundy had his first hit-out in Sydney colours. (Photo: Joshua Davis / The Inner Sanctum)

Arch rivals Sydney and GWS resumed hostilities for the first time in 2024 in an unofficial pre-season clash at Tramway Oval. The Swans claimed a 26-point victory in a topsy-turvy contest punctuated by large momentum swings. 

Both clubs had several absentees with GWS skipper Toby Greene sitting out Thursday’s clash due to the birth of his first child. Finn Callaghan also missed with a shoulder problem, while Sydney recruits Taylor Adams and Joel Hamling were also on the sidelines. 

The match was a valuable opportunity for both clubs to put into action some of their learnings over the off-season, as Sydney look to atone for an underwhelming 2023 season. Meanwhile, GWS aim to continue their resurgence under Adam Kingsley. 

Sydney recruits fire

It was a solid first outing for boom recruit Brodie Grundy, who impressed with his aerial ability and follow-up efforts in the ruck against Kieran Briggs. In one of the highlights of the match, he showcased his incredible athleticism in the second quarter with a contested mark over Jack Buckley, followed by a sidestep and kick through the corridor.  

James Jordon made an irresistible case for selection in Sydney’s Opening Round clash against Melbourne, impressing with his run and carry and excellent kicking. He was dominant in the first half playing on a wing before fading slightly in the second half. The youngster also displayed his versatility as an inside midfielder. 

Breakout stars 

Small forward Toby Bedford was one of the Giants best, and looks set to improve on his return of 12 goals in 2023. His defensive pressure was elite as he locked the ball inside the Giants forward 50 on numerous occasions and worked his way up the ground to lay tackles at half-forward. 

Playing predominantly across half-back and the wing, Braeden Campbell was outstanding for the Swans and appears likely to take his game to another level in 2024. He kicked a classy goal in the first quarter, bursting through a pack, evading several opponents and converting from 30 metres out. 

Positional changes 

Following an underwhelming 2023, Swans fans will be hoping Isaac Heeney recaptures his all-Australian form of 2022. He lined up at the first centre bounce and played mostly as an inside midfielder, creating several scoring opportunities for Sydney’s forwards. 

Meanwhile, Matty Roberts was serviceable at half-back following a few seasons vying for a spot in Sydney’s best 22. Fringe key defender Robbie Fox spent some time up forward in the third quarter, while Giants medium forward Xavier O’Halloran attended several centre bounces and kicked a classy goal on the run. 

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Giants building enviable depth 

The performances of youngsters Harvey Thomas, Leek Aleer, and Jacob Wehr will create plenty of selection headaches for the Giants match committee ahead of Opening Round. 

Thomas, a Giants Academy graduate, applied manic pressure at half-forward and set up multiple goals. 

Ankle and toe injuries cruelled his 2023 season, but Leek Aleer looks set to break through for his long-awaited senior debut in 2024. He took some brilliant intercept marks and landed some crucial spoils to halt Sydney’s momentum in the first half. 

Jacob Wehr could be another who breaks into the Giants star-studded side following an impressive display on a wing. 

Post-Franklin era begins with a bang

Is this the year Logan Mcdonald establishes himself as one of the league’s best key forwards? Mcdonald’s contested marking was a highlight, but it was on the scoreboard where his impact was most keenly felt. 

Mcdonald imposed himself on the contest, kicking four goals for the match, three of which coming in the third-quarter.

Joel Amartey and Hayden McLean kicked a goal each, with McLean also spending some of his time in the ruck. 

The rest

Tom Green was a commanding presence in the midfield, amassing possessions at will. His teammates Jesse Hogan and Aaron Cadman were similarly dominant, kicking four goals each against an undermanned Swans backline. 

Chad Warner was one of the Swans best, showcasing his ability in the midfield and playing a critical role in their early dominance. Will Hayward is another who could play an important role in 2024, kicking four goals and contributing several goal assists. 

The most spectacular moment of the day came from Nick Blakey, who kicked an outstanding running goal in the dying minutes of the last quarter. 

Sydney will continue their pre-season against the Brisbane Lions on February 29, while the Giants will take on the Gold Coast Suns on the same day. 

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