SYDNEY SWANS: 5.5 9.7 14.9 17.11 (113)
NORTH MELBOURNE: 1.3 6.7 7.11 10.17 (77)
Sydney have made a better start to the year than their 2005 premiership season, and their best overall since 1998 with a comfortable win at the SCG against the on-the-rise Kangaroos.
After North Melbourne’s surprise defeat of Geelong, with an extremely impressive and punishing performance, many would have expected them to take the trip to the neighbouring state head-on.
Gary Rohan broke his right tibia just two minutes into the clash, but the downer of that injury was short-lived as Sydney controlled the day from start to finish.
Rohan gave a thumbs-up to the crowd as he left the ground and although the season-ending injury would have been upsetting, he would have been proud with the Swans’ polished and hardened performance.
With superstar Adam Goodes out with suspension and key-ruckman Shane Mumford missing another game with a back problem, one could have expected the Swans to face a tough scrap with a buoyed North outfi.
Before winning the match to cement a 4-0 start to the season, the Swans were brilliant in the first term to make their first-quarter victories equally as strong.
Ben McGlynn kicked two as the Swans easily held sway towards their forward 50, pushing out to a 26-point lead at the first break.
North clicked in the first half of the second quarter, piling on three straight goals to reduce the margin back to eight.
Lindsay Thomas showed a glimpse of his occasional brilliance with a long goal from the boundary outside the 50m arc.
The Roos’ midfield brigade of Swallow, Ziebell, Bastinac, Wells and Harvey, so dynamic and effective last weekend, were little match for a hardened Sydney outfit.
The Swans benefited from their experience and hardened attack at the contest from their more mature players in the first half, but it was 17th gamer Luke Parker who was the most effective in tearing the contest apart.
Parker had 20 disposals, 3 clearances and 4 tackles in the first half as Sydney hit back. They lost the quarter but still maintained an 18-point buffer going in to half-time.
From then on the result was never in doubt.
The Swans had another 5 goal to 1 quarter as they cruised to a 40-point lead with a quarter to spare. Rhyce Shaw was instrumental as he nullified Kangaroo veteran Brent Harvey, who was in vintage form last weekend. Craig Bird was intense around the ball, racking up 11 tackles for the game.
The winning margin was a mere formality as the Swans coasted home. Sydney had 10 individual goal-kickers; none more electric than Lewis Jetta who kicked a spectacular goal in the first and lit up the SCG with two more.
Jetta, perhaps previously more famous for the sheer amount of behinds he kicked, has put away past issues and is equal third in the race for the Coleman after four rounds.
North Melbourne won the inside 50s, clearances and contested possessions but still lost the game by 36 points. Brad Scott remarked that “it’s becoming a losing coach’s line”, and indeed this wasn’t a game where the stats accurately reflected the impact on the game. North’s accuracy was something they will reflect upon.
Todd Goldstein was widely considered one of the best young rucks in the competition in 2011, but continued his slow start to the season with 18 hit-outs and a measly 7 disposals. Hamish McIntosh shouldered the load as much as he could, but the Swans still easily won the hit-out count, while missing their first choice ruckman.
Again, stats don’t tell the whole story, but this shouldn’t be an acceptable outcome for such a formidable ruck duo against a weakened opposition.
Sydney haven’t been talked up this season, but they’ve claimed another scalp and now sit second on the ladder, undefeated.
North Melbourne hasn’t won at the SCG for nearly 8 years and the Swans will be looking to cement its status as a fortress as they continue on in 2012. Goodes returns next week for the Swans as they take on the formidable Hawks away from home.
3. Luke Parker
2. Josh P. Kennedy
1. Jarrad McVeigh
Sydney Swans: Everitt 3, McGlynn 3, Jetta 3, Bolton 2, Rohan, Malceski, Kennedy, O’Keefe, McVeigh, Armstrong
North Melbourne: MacMillan 2, Thomas 2, Campbell 2, Wells, Cunnington, Harvey, Petrie
Sydney Swans: Parker, Kennedy, McVeigh, Richards, Jack, Seaby, Bird, Jetta
North Melbourne: Anthony, Atley, Cunnington, Firrito, McIntosh, Macmillan
Official crowd: 21,049 at the SCG