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Season review: Sydney

High-priced Swan is under pressure The highs and lows of Sydney's season in The Wash-Up

In a nutshell

The Swans fought hard to make the finals for the ninth straight year and eighth under John Longmire, but lost seven of 12 home games, including a disappointing elimination final against the Giants.

What we said in the pre-season 

We nailed the prediction that the Swans would go with a sole ruckman, with Callum Sinclair doing an admirable job, and while we just missed on the top-four finish, and Lance Franklin winning another Coleman Medal, he likely would have nabbed his sixth if he hadn't missed four games with injury and played the rest of the season hurt.


Have your say: Give your season verdict on the Swans using the form at the bottom of this article.


What worked

Callum Sinclair as the team's number one ruckman
A season-ending knee injury to Sam Naismith handed Sinclair more responsibility and the big man thrived, using his athleticism to be a significant contributor.

A pair of rebounding half-backs
Jake Lloyd led the League for kicks and was picked in the 40-man Virgin Australia AFL All Australian squad, while Jarrad McVeigh used all his experience and foot skills to give the Swans two valuable attacking weapons.

More young talent blooded
Young forwards Tom McCartin and Ben Ronke were great finds and will only get better, while Colin O'Riordan and Ryley Stoddart also showed they have the talent to play more games next year.

 

What failed

Sam Reid's body… again
It started with a hamstring injury during the pre-season, and was followed by a significant quad strain, and Achilles surgery, which all combined to limit the tall forward to one senior game for the year.

The Swans on their home deck
The SCG is usually a fortress for the Swans but they won just five of their 12 games at the venue for the season. Two of those seven losses included the round 23 clash with the Hawks with a top-four spot up for grabs, and the elimination final debacle against GWS.

Elimination final planning
George Hewett and Dan Robinson had blanketed GWS All Australian Lachie Whitfield in both home and away encounters, but the Swans opted not to tag him in the elimination final, and he cut them up with 29 possessions.

Overall rating

C- 

A lot of hard work went into making the eight, but it was all undone with a woeful showing in the elimination final.

The coach

Longmire did well to get his team to September, but with Franklin not 100 per cent, his young players cooked, and his midfield well beaten, didn't have the tools to go any further. Got games into young players again which will help next year but needs an established player or two to impact games when Franklin is held.

The leaders 

Josh Kennedy didn't have his usual influence on games and his numbers in disposals, contested ball, clearances and goals dropped, but he's held to an extraordinarily high standard. Leadership in big games remained significant. 

MVP

Luke Parker spent more time forward this season and booted 25 goals, but the star midfielder still led the club for tackles, was second in clearances and goal assists, and third for disposals.

 

Surprise packet

Young forward Ben Ronke burst onto the scene with seven goals in his third game against Hawthorn at the MCG and finished the year with 24 from 18 games. Forward 50 tackling was also a big part of his excellent season.

Get excited

Tall forward Tom McCartin was the youngest player in the League but played well above expectation in his 15 games. His competitiveness in the air was outstanding and he's sure to benefit greatly from the year.

Disappointment

Reid's failure to get on the park hurt the team badly, especially with Franklin playing hurt for most of the year. He kicked 30 goals from 22 games last year, but another wasted season puts question-marks on his future at the top level.

Best win

Round six: Sydney 12.14 (86) d. Geelong 10.9 (69)

Without Franklin, the Swans went to the Cattery and looked gone at three-quarter time, but with Kennedy imposing himself on the game, they kicked seven goals to win in the final term to pull off a stunning comeback.

 

Best individual performance

Franklin v West Coast in round one

The superstar forward turned the opening game of the season at Optus Stadium into his own party when he booted eight goals against the Eagles.

Low point

When Alex Johnson's right knee buckled at the MCG against Melbourne just a week after his incredibly emotional return to footy, and sent him for a sixth reconstruction, the footy world shook its head in disbelief.

 

The big questions

Is Dan Hannebery gone?

What happens with the ruck situation in 2019?

Is Aliir Aliir the real deal?

Season in a song

Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan

Who's done?

Retirements: Nil

Delistings: Nil.

Unsigned free agents: Nil

How should they approach trade and draft period?

The Swans need to go after midfield speed again, but while they've done that through the draft recently, an established player could be the option this year to have an immediate impact.

Early call for 2019

The Swans won't aim for anything less than a top four finish. It's just not in them to do anything else. Some luck with injury and a big-name recruit will help them achieve it.

Swans fans: what's your season verdict?

Share your views via the form below and we'll publish the best responses on Sunday, September 23. 

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