The Sydney Swans notched their fifth consecutive win in the NEAFL with a 22-point victory over Redland at Coorparoo on Saturday.
Despite an inaccurate and at times scrappy contest, the 8.19 (67) to 6.9 (45) win consolidates the Swans’ position within the top four.
Wins over the competition’s top two placed teams, Sydney University and Southport, in the past fortnight meant the Swans possessed unmitigated levels of momentum and swagger ahead of the contest, but their momentum alone was not enough to carry the team to victory.
Blustery conditions and a heavy playing surface made it a challenge for both sides to execute their game plan, and the resulting four quarters became scrappy and mistake-riddled.
The Swans, despite their rich vein of form, were forced to rely on pure grit and determination to maintain their lead throughout.
The two teams combined for just 14 goals throughout the game, but Sydney Swans head coach Tadgh Kennelly said there were still plenty of positives to come out of the game.
“It was very scrappy. We’re going to have to do that in games of football. You’re going to have to win games by fighting and by scrapping away,” he said.
“We were a bit disorganised at times and that was disappointing but at the end of the day, we got the win and that’s the main thing.
“The whole game was a scrap.”
After a string of losses heading into the match, coupled with the fact that the Bombers have never beaten Sydney in NEAFL competition, Redland manufactured the first scoring opportunity in the game a mere 30 seconds into proceedings.
Tom Salter, who perhaps played his best game of the season through the midfield, won the first clearance of the game, giving spearhead Matt Hammelmann an opportunity moments after the first bounce.
The resulting shot yielded not even a behind in what was befitting of Redland’s scoring opportunities throughout much of the game.
From there on, Sydney proved the far better side and it soon became apparent they were the most prepared to work harder in transition.
Sydney produced the first five scores of the game, yet their early dominance produced just a combined 10 points on the scoreboard.
Leading 17-3 at quarter-time, the Swans emerged the better side in the second term yet wayward scoring allowed Redland to stay in the contest.
Goals to captain Darcy Cameron and Josh Stern increased the margin by 26 – the highest margin of the game thus far as the Bombers continued to be wasteful when entering their forward 50.
The third term appeared to be following much the same theme as the opening two stanzas in its early stages as the Swans produced several inside 50s in the opening minutes yet returned a paltry 1.2.
Hammelmann stoked life into his side soon after, converting a long opportunity from beyond the 50m arc. Despite the margin sitting at 41 before the goal, it was the first time all game where Redland appeared to have wrestled some ounce of momentum from their opposition.
Further majors from Isaiah Edwards, Jack Goodall and Peter Yagmoor – a trademark boomer from midfield – reduced the margin to as little as 21 points.
Hammelmann kicked the only major of the final term, but a Swans barrage of behinds ensured the margin remained far enough in front as to not worry the visitors.
Despite both the Swans and Bombers producing 51 inside 50s apiece, Redland struggled to use their opportunities well.
The task was made even harder given the profiency of the Swans’ back six, including Aliir Aliir, who nullified skipper Jackson Paine’s influence to near nothing.
“Our back six were really good. Jack Maibaum was really good on Hammelmann, Aliir Aliir on Paine and also Colin O’Riordan. Those back three were very good today,” Kennelly said.
But the win, for Kennelly, was far from perfect and with finals in the Swans’ sights yet again, improvement in a number of areas – most notably on the scoreboard – is required.
“There was a lot of rushing today. There were some selfish blokes out there when we had players in better positions and that’s something I addressed at three quarter-time and after the game,” he saod.
“We really want to play finals. We’ve got a bit of a momentum streak winning now five games in a row and something like that is very pleasing.
“As a football club, we’re quite good on getting on a roll and winning games. We just find a way and really ride that momentum.
“The NEAFL is a really tight competition and I’m really proud that we were really able to perform today and get the result.”
For the Swans, James Rose produced a masterclass with 35 disposals, six clearances and two goals, while Jack Rolls and Salter were again productive for the Bombers in midfield, both finishing with 32 disposals along with eight and six clearances respectively.
Sydney will now travel back to Queensland for the second time in as many weeks as their winning streak will be tested against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
Meanwhile, the last placed Bombers host Southport in a battle between the two historic state rivals.
Redland Bombers v Sydney Swans at Coorparoo
SYDNEY 2.5 6.10 8.15 8.19 (67)
REDLAND 0.3 1.7 5.9 6.9 (45)
GOALS – Sydney: J Stern 2, J Rose 2, D Cameron 2, R Stoddart, J Shumack. Redland: M Hammelmann 2, J Paine, I Edwards, J Goodall, P Yagmoor.
BEST – Sydney: C O’Riordan, N Newman, J Maibaum, J Rose, A Aliir, L Swaney. Redland: T Salter, J Rolls, C Malone, P Yagmoor.