Chad Warner, Nick Blakey and Logan McDonald look dejected after losing the match between Richmond and Sydney at the MCG in R3, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

FOLLOWING a blazing start to the season, Sydney was slowed down in its two matches before the bye.

A loss to Richmond and tighter-than-expected win over West Coast was not the form line heading into a week off many people expected.

So, what can Damien Hardwick learn from the Tigers and Eagles ahead of Gold Coast's trip to the SCG to take on John Longmire's Swans on Sunday?

As revealed by recently, the best indicator of success is a team's pressure compared to its opposition, with a positive differential correlating with a 90 per cent success rate.

Sydney started frenetically, ranked third by Champion Data for Pressure Rating (185) over its first three matches – wins over Melbourne, Collingwood and Essendon - and third for differential (+11).

Those markers have dropped to 16th (176) and 12th (-2) in the past two contests.

James Rowbottom tackles Jack Crisp during the match between Collingwood and Sydney at the MCG in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Meanwhile, Gold Coast is ranked fourth and third respectively through its 3-2 start to the season.

That's an easy concept for the Suns to latch on to, but much more difficult in reality against a rested Swans.

However, the nuts-and-bolts of what has changed for Longmire's team is interesting.

Both with the ball and without it they have struggled.

Sydney torched its first three opponents on turnover, ranked first for points from turnover (71.5 a game), with a whopping 55 of them coming from the front-half.


These numbers have plummeted to 37 points a game (12th) with 34 (13th) from the front half.

The Swans have become more and more reliant on scoring from stoppages, ranked first from rounds three to five with a +15 margin in points from clearance differential.

Although this is positive in some respects, it has proven over the years to be the less sustainable scoring method compared to generating points from turnover.

It's the defence that would be causing Longmire just as much grief, with the Tigers and Eagles far more easily transitioning the ball from their defensive 50 to an inside 50 than any of the Swans' first three opponents.


Sydney has also dropped from seventh to 15th for conceding scores per inside 50.

So, for Gold Coast it's simple – bring more pressure, slow the Swans down at stoppages and limit their turnover game. 

Winning three of their past five matches at the SCG, the Suns will take in some confidence, but Longmire and his team will have had two weeks to study these numbers to return to the scorching form that started their campaign.