A MISFIRING Sydney has snatched a draw in a dramatic Grand Final rematch against Geelong, in the first shared points between the sides in the competition's history.
In a game that couldn't have been more different from the sides' most recent two meetings, they shared the points with Sydney's inaccurate 6.18 (54) breaking even with Geelong's 7.12 (54) at the SCG on Friday evening.
SWANS V CATS Full match details and stats
Sydney started the game in high gear, attacking with purpose and speed through the corridor and neatly hitting up targets inside 50. Unfortunately for the home side, the ability to make it count on the scoreboard was absent, kicking one major from nine shots on goal in the opening term.
The Swans continued to play quick, attacking footy and making life tough for Geelong's defenders as they looked to rebound but remained frustratingly inaccurate, leaving the door wide open for the reigning premiers.
On the reverse, when the Cats were able to break through Sydney's high defensive wall, they were often rewarded with acres of space and time inside 50 to make the most of their rare opportunities in attack.
Gryan Miers (26 disposals, six inside 50s) showed off his exquisite kicking inside 50, picking off targets few others would attempt, let alone execute, and Tanner Bruhn (18 disposals, three clearances) quietly generated attacking opportunities all night for Geelong.
The experience of Geelong turned the game on its head in the second half. They clamped down, tightened up on direct opponents and refused the Swans the uncontested ball or corridor movement they enjoyed early in the game. As a result, the visitors maintained forward possession for much of the second half and put real pressure on Sydney's defence.
After the Swans moved the ball inside 50 with ease early, they couldn't buy an entry for much of the second half because of the Cats' re-organised defence.
Tom Atkins was immense in the Cats' resurgence, moving into the midfield largely to quell Luke Parker's influence and finishing the game with 17 disposals, 11 tackles and five clearances.
Errol Gulden's work rate was once again on show, impressively covering the ground to gather 26 disposals, six inside 50s and laying nine tackles, while his partner in crime Braeden Campbell started strong to finish with 14 disposals and two goals.
Bad kicking, bad football
Sydney came out with a plan to get one back on the Cats who have dominated them in recent meetings, and they looked spritely out of the blocks. What the Swans simply couldn't get right, however, was finishing in front of goal. Isaac Heeney finished the game with three kicks out on the full and two behinds, Robbie Fox just three behinds – including a late cider that would have put the Swans in front with minutes to go – and Tom Hickey sprayed two simple set shots. Up by just eight points at half-time despite having eight more scoring shots, they left the door open for the Cats to press. And press they did. In a positive spin for Sydney, they had enough grit to hold on for the draw, but they will no doubt be ruing a missed opportunity.
Tuohy stands alongside Stynes
With his 264th career game on Friday night, Zach Tuohy equalled Melbourne great Jim Stynes' games record for an Irish player in the AFL. Playing largely on the wing, Tuohy worked exceptionally hard, leading all players for disposals at half-time with 18, and finishing the game with 28 disposals and 737m gained. The Cat was persistent, generating attacking transition even when his side was on the back foot.
A nervous wait for Close
In a season where dangerous tackles, and how they are judged by the Match Review Officer, is the topic of conversation, Brad Close has added to the chatter. In the opening quarter as Sydney defender Aaron Francis was desperately trying to break free of Close heading toward the Cats' goal line, the latter trapped the Swan's arm and brought him to ground. As Francis' head hit the ground, it will no doubt be looked at by the MRO, despite him playing out the game.
SYDNEY 1.6 4.12 5.15 6.18 (54)
GEELONG 3.3 4.4 6.8 7.12 (54)
Sydney: McDonald 2, Campbell 2, Papley, Parker,
Geelong: O. Henry 2, Hawkins 2, Stengle, Blicavs, Miers
Sydney: Parker, Gulden, Campbell, McInerney, Sheldrick, Blakey
Geelong: Miers, Tuohy, Blicavs, Dangerfield, Atkins, Stewart
Sydney: Ryan Clarke (unused)
Geelong: Jack Bowes (replaced Esava Ratugolea in the final quarter)
Crowd: 32,098 at the SCG