Joel Amartey celebrates a goal during the match between Fremantle and Sydney at Optus Stadium in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY has moved a game clear atop the AFL ladder after punishing a wayward Fremantle by 48 points on Friday night, winning its fifth straight game on an emotion-charged night at Optus Stadium.

In a clash set against the backdrop of former Fremantle forward Cam McCarthy's tragic death on Thursday, the Swans produced a relentless pressure performance and then took their chances, winning 13.9 (87) to 4.15 (39).

DOCKERS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

It was a clinical road win that left the Dockers unable to execute at stages, setting up a mouth-watering Friday night clash for the Swans against Carlton at the SCG next Friday night as they look to continue their best start to a season in the Harbour City. 


While the Dockers will rue inaccuracy after repeatedly sending set shots wide, they were also stripped of their strengths for extended periods and were shown up by a hardened contender which has few flaws.

In an incredibly even team performance, star midfielder Isaac Heeney stood out with 28 disposals and eight clearances, while Will Hayward booted a game-high four goals. 


Explosive midfielder Chad Warner lifted at key moments and was able to break through congestion to finish with 23 disposals and two goals, while ruckman Brodie Grundy (32 hitouts) gave his onballers first use in a battle with Luke Jackson. 


The Swans' pressure was red hot from the opening quarter, with Heeney laying a big tackle on Nat Fyfe to create one of three early goals as the Swans built a 14-point lead and the Dockers squandered chances at the other end. 

It took some fast feet from Brandon Walker late in the term to finally convert for Fremantle from outside 50, but it was a brief moment of relief before the Swans turned the screws in a dominant second quarter. 


Warner launched the visitors' six-goal run in the opening minute when he exploded off the mark and converted from long-range before Joel Amartey kicked back-to-back goals that were created following Fremantle turnovers. 

In total, five of the Swans' six straight goals for the quarter were created by turnovers, out-tackling the Dockers' 15-10 for the quarter and bringing a sustained level of pressure that forced their opponents into rushed decisions and messy disposals. 

Trailing by 40 points, it was hard to see a path forward for the Dockers in the second half if they couldn't first weather the Swans' pressure and then take their chances.

They managed the first, winning the contested ball, playing the game in their half, and finding targets inside 50 through their best period in the game. But goals remained elusive as Josh Treacy, Jeremy Sharp, Pat Voss and Michael Frederick all missed chances, leaving the Swans 43 point clear at the last break.

Emotional Dockers pay tribute to former teammate
Cam McCarthy was remembered pre-game as Fremantle and Sydney players lined the edge of the centre square to observe a moment of silence that turned to an extended applause. Eleven of McCarthy's ex-teammates were playing on Friday night, and several were visibly emotional during the tribute, which remembered McCarthy as a kind and easy-going person who loved his family, his teammates and his footy. Fremantle fans then paid their own tribute to McCarthy, rising at the 23-minute mark of the first quarter to applaud the former No.23, who play 70 AFL games with Greater Western Sydney and Fremantle between 2014-2020.


Jordan takes another scalp 
Former Demon James Jordon has turned his hand to run-with roles in recent weeks and was deployed on speedy half-back Jordan Clark on Friday night. Against a midfield that includes the ball-winning strength of Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw and piercing kick of Hayden Young, it was a surprise move that worked a treat for the Swans. Clark had just five disposals, including one kick, at half-time, but he responded after the main break to finish with 16 and four rebound 50s. Jordon took the points with 18 and eight score involvements. 

The value of a goalkicking midfielder
Swans trio Isaac Heeney, Errol Gulden and Chad Warner entered Friday night's clash with a combined 30 goals for the season, with the Dockers alert to their danger. While Heeney went goalless for the first time this season and Gulden failed to hit the scoreboard, Warner lifted brilliantly in the second quarter. The WA product booted two goals to help the Swans make their decisive move, with his first a brilliant long-range effort and the second showcasing his workrate to push forward quickly after a turnover. The Dockers have not got a lot of goals out of their midfielders this season, but Jeremy Sharp was able to kick two late. 



FREMANTLE     1.5     1.8     2.13     4.15 (39)
SYDNEY           3.0     9.0     11.2     13.9 (87)

Sharp 2, Treacy, Walker 
Sydney: Hayward 4, Amartey 2, Warner 2, Florent, Lloyd, McDonald, McLean, Papley

Fremantle: Serong, Sharp, Ryan, Brayshaw, Pearce
Sydney: Heeney, Warner, Hayward, Grundy Florent, Blakey, Rampe

Fremantle: Nil 
Sydney: Nil  

Fremantle: Michael Walters (replaced Michael Frederick at three-quarter time)
Sydney: Robbie Fox (replaced Dane Rampe in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 46,198 at Optus Stadium