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NEAFL: Practice makes perfect

Myles Stedman - neafl.com.au  March 20, 2017 5:35 PM

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Shaun Edwards is one of the senior Swans to perform well in Saturday's NEAFL practice match.

North East Australian Football League: Sydney overpowers Students in wet conditions

The Sydney Swans flexed their muscles against Sydney University to record a 72-point practice match victory in wet and wild conditions at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday.

The first half between two of last years’ best was close, with the sides heading into the main break separated by just three straight kicks before Sydney ran away with a 13.14 (92) to 3.2 (20) victory. 

Players from both sides were clearly struggling to adapt to the atrocious conditions, with the Swans’ wayward kicking a telltale sign of just how hard it was to put the ball through the big sticks.

Sydney University struggled to get anything going their way for most of the match, and when the rain cleared, the Swans skills were too much for their opponents, putting on a stunning 9.6 to 1.0 in the second half.

The match began evenly, with the Students creating an impressive amount of chances against a side littered with AFL talent.

But inability to hang onto the ball inside their own forward 50 meant they couldn’t turn possession into scoreboard pressure, which would prove costly down the track.

At the other end, some crafty ruck work around goals from the Swans ruckmen, Callum Sinclair and Sam Naismith, grabbed some opportunistic six-pointers for the red and white.

As the rain constantly entered and exited stage left, one percenters became increasingly important. Uncapped Swan Jordan Dawsons’ courageous hit on Students’ Tim Barrett, saving an almost certain goal for the Students, proved a game changer, swinging the momentum irretrievably in favour of his team.

When the clouds passed and the second half commenced, it was all Sydney. Young defender turned forward Tyrone Leonardis, and new recruit Shaun Edwards both impressed up forward, kicking multiple goals each.

The Swans managed to set up camp inside their own forward 50, receiving little resistance from the blue and gold, with the ball seemingly only emerging to be put through the middle by Sydney.

When Sydney University did manage to venture forward, they were promptly repelled by an excellent Sydney defence.

Aliir Aliir, in his first game back from injury, showed his side what they missed in the AFL Grand Final, providing dash off the half-back line.

Nic Newman also picked up where he’d left off last year, replicating his NEAFL Team of the Year form and providing plenty of effective forward 50 entries, showing just why he is pegged to feature in the top flight this year.

But after Sydney Uni opened the scoring with a major in the second half, the Swans kicked nine goals unanswered, and when it was all said and done, the latter were 12 goal victors.

Sydney was thrilled to get both confidence and wet weather footy into their fringe players, such as James Rose and Jordan Foote, and head coach Rhyce Shaw spoke of his pleasure post-match.

“As the game went on we got stronger,” he said of his teams’ performance.

“I think we showed in that third quarter the kind of footy we want to play for the rest of the year.

“The effort and the intent were there. It was a bit old school, what we put up on the scoreboard, but we got the job done. It was a really good effort across the board.”

Sydney will have a week’s rest before Round 1, while the Students will take on defending premier GWS Giants in their last practice match next week.