The Western Bulldogs’ finals hopes are all but dashed after an extraordinary opening quarter from the Sydney Swans paved the way for a thumping win at the SCG on Friday night, 17.18 (120) to 9.13 (67).
Both sides were looking to rebound from losses, but a seven-goal opening term to the Swans saw them take what was ultimately an unassailable lead against the Dogs, who never looked a genuine hope of winning after that.
The Dogs now face another top-eight contender, St Kilda, next Friday night, while Sydney travels to Perth to face Fremantle.
Stream all the action from The F1 Austrian GP this weekend on Kayo. Pre-race coverage starts 9:30PM AEST on Sunday, with racing live from 11PM. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now
The Swans made one late change with Braeden Campbell out and Ryan Clarke coming into the side. Harry Cunningham (Sydney) and Robbie McComb (Western Bulldogs) are the medical substitutes.
Clarke was earmarked as potentially playing the role of a forward tagger to try and negate the influence of Bailey Dale, which came to fruition at the opening bounce.
James Rowbottom kicked the first goal of the game a couple of minutes into the contest, which came after some surge footy.
Cody Weightman missed a set shot for the Dogs but Isaac Heeney made no such mistake at the other end after receiving a free kick for front-on contact against Ed Richards.
Joel Amartey was the next Swan to hit the scoreboard as the Dogs were picked apart in their defensive 50.
Lance Franklin and Heeney goals made it a stunning 31-point margin after 15 minutes of play, before Weightman finally broke the drought for the Dogs.
“A team only ever comes out like this when they get an absolute roasting from the coach throughout the week,” Luke Hodge said on channel seven.
“John Longmire would’ve been furious with how they got overrun from the second quarter onwards (against Essendon).”
Weightman’s goal was just momentary relief for the Dogs, with two of the next three goals going to the Swans, making for a 37-point lead to the Swans at quarter-time.
Despite facing an enormous quarter-time deficit, the Dogs doubled their efforts in the second quarter, being far more competitive in general play.
Dylan Stephens kicked the first goal of the quarter but from then on the Dogs created plenty of chances in their forward 50.
Inaccuracy plagued the Dogs, however, even though they were able to kick a couple of goals to begin pegging the margin back.
In a blow for the Swans, ruckman Peter Ladhams was subbed off, paving the way for Tim English to have a greater impact on the contest.
While the Dogs dominated the term, a goal to Callum Mills just before half-time meant the Swans had only been outscored by a goal, with the margin 29 points.
The Swans made the perfect start to the third quarter, with a brilliant piece of play from Heeney parting the seas and making it three goals for the game.
English responded at the other end as he began to exert more influence on the contest.
From then on, however, it was eerily similar to the first quarter, as the Swans took complete control of the contest, kicking five of the next six goals.
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan stemmed the bleeding for the Dogs on the eve of three-quarter time, but the Swans entered the final change with a 49-point lead.
With the result virtually assured, it was simply a matter of pride for the Dogs in the final term.
They got the first goal via Aaron Naughton, but it was a rare moment inside their forward 50 as the Swans continued to go forward with ease.
The Dogs kicked the final three scores of the game, but all were behinds as they failed to make any great inroads on the margin.
THE 3-2-1 (by Catherine Healey)
3) ‘OFF THE CHARTS’ SWANS RESPOND IN BEST POSSIBLE WAY
Sydney coach John Longmire was extremely disappointed in their final quarter fade out which cost them victory against Essendon last week.
But it was a completely different Swans outfit that turned up on Friday night at the SCG.
The Swans were able to “flex their muscle” and put out a “really impressive” performance that set a new standard for the competition.
Teams have been averaging a 182 pressure rating so far in 2022.
Against the Dogs on Friday night, Sydney’s pressure was a season-high 216.
“This is the standard – the benchmark for the rest of the competition,” Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown praised.
“It’s the highest pressure performance we’ve seen from any team in the competition this year.
“It’s been unbelievable. They have been magnificent.”
Brown described the Swans’ pressure as “off the charts” in the third term, where they racked up 23 tackles to just eight.
The pressure rating for that third term alone was 230.
“They have brought it tonight – just unbelievable numbers,” he said.
Alastair Lynch described Sydney as “super impressive” over four quarters.
“The Swans just smashed them off the park,” he said.
“When they did lose possession, they just raised the bar in terms of pressure. They did it beautifully.”
Lyon said the Swans’ dominance through the middle was a welcome return to their early season form.
“The pressure has been the hallmark of the victory,” he said.
“They are an emotional side, Sydney. When they start well and the crowd gets behind them at the SCG, geez they are hard to beat.”
2) WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG FOR THE DOGS?
The Western Bulldogs headed to the SCG – a ground where they’ve won three of their past four matches – in need of victory to keep their 2022 finals hopes alive.
But what they dished up was labelled by their own fans as “pathetic” and “disappointing” by Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon.
“They’ve got problems all over the ground,” he said.
“Their back half just can’t defend in the air or on the ground, their forward half is so reliant on one man and he’s still carrying such a big load and one of your best midfielders Treloar is playing off half back.”
The Dogs were “absolutely smashed” in areas of their game they pride themselves on – clearance and contest, according to Fox Footy’s Nick Riewoldt.
By half time, Marcus Bontempelli had just six touches while Josh Dunkley and Tim English had just 14 between them.
Lyon said the Dogs were “all at sea” in the first term and could not comprehend how the players hadn’t arrived in the right mindset.
The Dogs now face one of the hardest runs home, with matches to come against St Kilda, Melbourne, Geelong and Fremantle in the next five weeks.
1) SUPER SWAN COVERS BIG DOUBLE BLOW
Sydney ended the clash with the Western Bulldogs without number one ruckman Tom Hickey, who battled illness all week.
Peter Ladhams was given the tough role of taking on returning Bulldog Tim English.
But the ruckman didn’t make it to half time, and was subbed out with a thumb injury.
Given English was described by Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon as “a generational ruckman” and likened to five-time All Australian ruckman Max Gawn, the Dogs were expected to struggle.
Veteran Sam Reid not only filled in admirably, but he managed to get the Swans’ mids first use.
“Hats off to Sam Reid,” Jonathan Brown praised.
Reid finished with 15 disposals, 25 hitouts and a whopping 13 tackles in an outstanding performance at the SCG.
“Sam Reid is against an opponent 11cm taller than him,” commentator James Brayshaw said.
“We had a good look at the bloods culture… that might just be what it represents.”
Commentator Jude Bolton was impressed with Reid’s ability to compete.
“Certainly Sam Reid, his role to just step up particularly when Ladhams went down, it’s been enormous,” he said.
“You’d expect Tim English to really take control in the midfield and it hasn’t happened.”
ecap Sydney Swans v Western Bulldogs in our blog below!