SYDNEY coach John Longmire has hailed young star Isaac Heeney's return to form on Saturday that was pivotal in the Swans ending their losing streak to start the season.
Longmire's team hung on for a 19-point victory over Carlton at Marvel Stadium after leading by more than five goals in the third term.
Heeney sealed the result with his fourth goal for the afternoon late in the contest, emphatically putting a stop to his slow beginning to the year with a best-on-ground performance.
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"He had a sore ankle there for a couple of weeks – he hurt it in the last JLT game – and that gets lost in the mix a little bit," Longmire told reporters.
"When you play like he does, he's lucky he didn't get a syndesmosis in that last game … and with a bit longer week he was able to get right and trained really well in the last session.
"He had the mix absolutely what we like, which is the mix of midfield-forward and taking marks either end, going forward and putting pressure on.
"His ability and courage overhead is outstanding."
Longmire continues to tweak his line-up and try new things with his transitioning line-up and Saturday was no different.
Zak Jones received an extended midfield run and took full advantage of it with 31 disposals and seven clearances, while Longmire also thrust key forward Tom McCartin into defence in his season debut.
Jones, in particular, earned rich praise from his coach.
"He was terrific … with his speed around the ball and he had a good balance of hard ball, loose ball and was damaging with ball in hand – he was good. Really good," Longmire said.
"We'd like to (have him in the midfield more), but you play them where you need them at the time, whether that's inside, wing or sometimes half-back."
Longmire was pleased with the Swans' improved ball movement, which helped them rack up 10 of their 13 marks inside 50 to half-time, but was disappointed they didn't ram home their advantage.
Part of that was Sydney's breakdown in defence in a first-quarter shootout that saw the teams combine for 11 goals.
"It's not surprising we had to work really hard for it, but we thought at different times we got on top," he said.
"(They kicked) a couple of goals before three-quarter time and (we did) a couple of little things that let them back in the game, then obviously they were up and going in the last quarter.
"A couple of times we had our opportunities to play really good, strong footy, and we did."
The Swans have a five-day turnaround before facing winless Melbourne at the SCG on Thursday night, with Longmire saying the focus would predominantly be on recovery between now and then.
He also chimed in on the week's big story about off-the-ball contact, with Sydney superstar Lance Franklin and Carlton defender Liam Jones testing the boundaries early in the game.
"I just think we've got to be careful," Longmire said.
"We don't want to do anything silly off the ball, but it's also a contact sport and we've got to be mindful that a goal either way is a big penalty to pay.
"We don't want our players doing silly things … but we've just got to get that balance right and if the free kicks are paid, (make sure) they're actually there."