Lance Franklin runs out in Swans colors for the first time
IT WAS a long way from the MCG on Grand Final day, but Lance Franklin officially made his Sydney Swans debut in their 35-point NAB Challenge loss to West Coast in Blacktown on Thursday night.
The last time Franklin kicked a ball in anger at AFL level, he secured his second premiership in his 182nd and final game for Hawthorn in front of just over 100,000 fans.
On a wet night in Sydney's west, the Swans' new $10 million man managed six touches and one behind in front of 3,045 fans in West Coast's 0.10.12 (72) to 0.5.7 (37) win.
Both sides were fielding undermanned line-ups, but an impressive third quarter for the Eagles – kicking 6.4 to no score for the Swans – broke the game open and ensured their second straight pre-season win.
A number of West Coast players impressed, led by usual suspects Chris Masten, Scott Selwood and Matt Rosa, plus fringe Eagles Callum Sinclair, Brant Colledge and Fraser McInnes.
"To break it open in the third quarter was pleasing, but it was the first half that I was impressed with."
Craig Bird, Ryan O'Keefe, Heath Grundy and Nick Malceski were among the Swans' best and Gary Rohan kicked three goals, but they will be looking for a big improvement in their final hit-out against the Brisbane Lions on March 8.
"We were minus-40-odd in contested ball (it was 180-139) for the game and just didn’t get our hands on the footy.
"I think we only had three inside 50s in the third quarter and we didn't win the ball, which is the most basic of basics and we didn't do it.
"I'm not thrilled."
Franklin floated in and out of the game on a tough night for all players, but showed good fitness and some strong intent just under three weeks before the season gets underway.
He was moved well up the ground at times just to ensure he got some benefits on a night when the Swans' forwards were starved of possession.
"The ball didn't really get down there and when it did it didn't come with any quality," Longmire said.
"It was just about getting some miles in (Franklin's) legs tonight, but when the ball wasn't getting down there it's a bit hard to get miles in the legs.
"So we put him up the wing at different times and hopefully we get more inside 50s next week.
"He's running fine and pressuring and competing well, we just didn't get enough of the ball forward."
A host of big-name Swans sat out, including co-captains Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack, plus Josh Kennedy, Ted Richards and Ben McGlynn.
The Eagles also left plenty of blue-chip stock in Perth, notably skipper Darren Glass, Nic Naitanui, Dean Cox and reigning best and fairest Matt Priddis.
West Coast dominated the early exchanges, with Sinclair particularly dangerous, but didn't make it count on the scoreboard.
Late goals to Rohan and Dean Towers gave the Swans a one-point advantage at the first break, a lead they stretched to four points at half-time.
From there it was all West Coast, with the Eagles to round off their pre-season with another clash with Fremantle next Thursday.
WHAT WE LEARNED
West Coast: It was considered a very weak side that flew east to Sydney, yet the Eagles handled the conditions beautifully and ran rings around the Swans in the second half. First-year coach Adam Simpson faces some selection dilemmas before he names his side for round one against the Western Bulldogs with Sinclair, Colledge, Mark Hutchings and Scott Lycett all producing good football.
Sydney Swans: Franklin looks in decent shape and is slowly developing an understanding with his new teammates. Most of the young Swans probably didn't do quite enough, with some big names to come back into the line-up. Tom Derickx and Sam Naismith need to lift, along with the rested Toby Nankervis, as they fight for a back-up rucking role behind Mike Pyke.
West Coast: Some young Eagles were given an opportunity and powerful midfielder Brant Colledge and key forward prospect Fraser McInnes both kicked goals and looked on track for senior football. Sinclair proved a strong presence in the ruck and new faces Xavier Ellis (from Hawthorn) and Elliott Yeo (ex-Brisbane Lions) played their part.
Sydney Swans: With so many senior Swans sitting out, there was a great chance for some fringe players to impress and some showed flashes of potential. Dan Robinson, Dean Towers, Derickx and Jake Lloyd all acquitted themselves reasonably well in a beaten side on a night when the ball resembled a bar of soap.
WEST COAST 0.1.5 0.2.6 0.8.10 0.10.12 (72)
SYDNEY SWANS 0.2.0 0.3.4 0.3.4 0.5.7 (37)
West Coast: Nil
Sydney Swans: Nil
West Coast: Sinclair 2, Colledge 2, Cripps, Darling, Selwood, McInnes, Masten, Wellingham
Sydney Swans: Rohan 3, Towers, Reid
West Coast: Masten, Selwood, Sinclair, Rosa, Hutchings, Gaff, Colledge
Sydney Swans: Bird, Grundy, O'Keefe, Malceski, Rohan
West Coast: Nil
Sydney Swans: Parker (eye)
West Coast: Carter replaced Ellis in the second quarter; McGinnity replaced Wellingham in the second quarter; Carter replaced Masten in the fourth quarter; McGinnity replaced Darling in the third quarter.
Sydney Swans: Jetta replaced Parker in the second quarter; Aliir replaced Franklin in the final term.
Umpires: Findlay, Mollison, Pawley
Official crowd: 3,045 at Blacktown International Sportspark