Chad Warner celebrates a goal during the round two match between Sydney and Essendon at the SCG, March 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

LANCE Franklin is long gone, and Isaac Heeney is now a midfielder, yet Sydney's scoring efficiency is through the roof early in 2024.

The Swans knew for a while 'life after Buddy' was coming, and early indications are they'll be just fine as one of the game's best ever has sailed off into retirement.

Through three rounds, John Longmire's team is scoring almost three goals a game more than 2023 from just a handful more inside 50s.

They're taking more marks in the danger zone and are more efficient when going in there.

And although it's a small sample, they haven't exactly played competition cellar dwellers. Melbourne was the second most frugal defence last season, Collingwood the third, and Essendon (15th) – well, not so good.


So how are the Swans doing it?

Firstly, let's look at their scoring sources, courtesy of Champion Data.

Last season just shy of 60 per cent of their scores came from turnovers. It accounted for 53 points a game. Turnover is generally where most scores in the competition come from and the best correlation to success.

This year that number has skyrocketed to 72 a game and almost 68 per cent of their score.

Sydney's forward improvement

  2023 2024 Change
Points for 89.1 106.3 +19%
Points from turnover 52.8 71.7 +36%
Points from clearance 33.2 34.0 +2%
Inside 50s 53.8 58.3 +8%
Marks inside 50 11.9 15.7 +32%
Score per inside 50% 44.9% 50.9% +13%

The entire extra three goals Sydney is scoring in each match is coming directly from turnover. Force a mistake and counter-attack against a less set defence – seems easy, right?

With just four extra inside 50s each match, Sydney is taking an extra four marks inside 50 and scoring better than every second time it goes in there.

While Buddy was clearly the player most targeted last year – and even in his farewell season, why wouldn't you? – this year is so much different.

Swans forward 50 targets - 2023

Player Targets
Lance Franklin 95
Logan McDonald 71
Tom Papley 65
Hayden McLean 63
Isaac Heeney 61

Hayden McLean (13), Logan McDonald (12), Tom Papley (10), Will Hayward (10) and Heeney (10) are not far apart as the player looked for most.

Subsequently the scoring has been shared. McDonald and Papley have six goals apiece, as does Chad Warner, while Hayward and McLean have five and Heeney four.

Swans forward 50 targets - 2024

Player Targets
Hayden McLean 13
Logan McDonald 12
Isaac Heeney 10
Tom Papley 10
Will Hayward 10

Whether the Swans can continue scoring so heavily from turnover we'll only know later in the season, but one thing is for sure, they're playing to a multi-dimensional forward line that has a host of avenues to goal.