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Talking Points: Round 21, 2017

Adam Curley  August 12, 2017 3:27 PM

Buddy Franklin celebrates his fourth goal of the game with youngster Will Hayward.

Buddy Franklin celebrates his fourth goal of the game with youngster Will Hayward.

1. Why didn't Joel get the early Buddy gig?
After the job he did on Lance Franklin in last year's Grand Final as a Bulldog, everybody expected Joel Hamling to get the assignment again, but Ross Lyon sprung a surprise when he sent draftee Griffin Logue to the superstar Swan at the first bounce. It was a strange decision that backfired when Franklin opened up with nine possessions, five inside-50s and a goal in the opening quarter. Things didn't improve when Hamling moved onto the triple Coleman medallist in the second term. Franklin didn't get as much of the footy but hit the scoreboard three times as Sydney piled on five unanswered goals to head into half-time 75 points up. Hamling put the brakes on Franklin and kept him goalless in the second half despite the belting his side copped, so you have to wonder what he could have done if he'd been on the champ from the start, and not after Buddy was up and about.

2. Swans love being early birds
The home side relished the 1.45pm bounce but the Dockers looked like they were on Perth time in a woeful opening term at the SCG. The Swans booted eight-straight goals before Fremantle forward Matt Taberner ended the run just before the quarter-time siren, and the 43-point lead virtually sealed the win for John Longmire's men. Dan Hannebery (13 possessions) and Luke Parker (nine touches and two goals) led a dominant midfield unit, Franklin, Gary Rohan and Kieren Jack were lively forwards, and skipper for the day, Dane Rampe, and his defence gave the Dockers absolutely no opportunity to score every time they went forward. As an interstate team going into enemy territory as massive underdogs, Fremantle's effort was the exact opposite of what they needed to have any hope of an upset.

3. Sydney ruck mystery goes on
Callum Sinclair and Kurt Tippett have been the Swans' ruck duo for the past fortnight with Sam Naismith injured, and both were solid against the Dockers, which could give John Longmire a headache for next Friday night's monster clash with Adelaide. Naismith is expected to push his case to face the Crows if he's recovered from a hip problem, but he might not be an automatic inclusion given Sinclair and Tippett haven't done a lot wrong in big wins over Geelong and Fremantle. Longmire has always liked to have a strong squad of ruckmen at his disposal, so having three options to choose from won't worry him in the slightest. Especially if the competition between his trio of talls keeps them sharp and hungry ahead of the finals.

4. Freo's prime movers missing in action
Lachie Neale and Bradley Hill were ranked first and third for disposals this season for the Dockers, but while Nat Fyfe (second) maintained his standards against the Swans with a team-high 28 touches, his two teammates didn't fire a shot. Neale gathered just nine possessions for the day, and Hill even worse with just eight, the only time the pair have churned out single figures for the year, while the Swans' midfield stars head a field day. Hannebery, Parker, Heeney and Zak Jones were everywhere, while the likes of Jake Lloyd, Kieren Jack, Tom Papley and George Hewett were just some of those in red and white to swing through the middle of the ground as they overwhelmed the Dockers with their quality depth. In tough times, Fremantle need their leaders to show the way, so the lack of input from Neale and Hill in particular, would have left Ross Lyon fuming as he suffered his biggest loss as a coach.

5. How important will Sydney's percentage boost be?
Heading into round 21 the Swans' percentage was 117.22%, but when the final siren sounded to give them a resounding 104-point win, it had jumped to 123.65%. With such an even competition this season and positions in the top eight shifting weekly, Sydney's thumping triple-figure victory could be worth anything at the end of round 23 in a fortnight's time. The display was that of a ruthless footy team that is not only a finals certainty but also a genuine premiership threat, a remarkable fact considering they lost their first six games of the year. The Swans now head to Adelaide to take on the ladder-leading Crows next Friday night in what could decide which team is the team to beat for the 2017 flag.