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Talking Points: Round 4, 2018

Nick Bowen  April 14, 2018 7:00 PM

Match Highlights: Swans v Dogs Watch all the highlights from the Swans thrilling win over the Western Bulldogs.
Lance Franklin and Tom Papley celebrate a goal against the Western Bulldogs.

Lance Franklin and Tom Papley celebrate a goal against the Western Bulldogs.

1. Florent seals Swans win with clinical finish
As second-year Swan Oliver Florent marked a speculative kick from Isaac Heeney at half-forward late in Saturday's game, the Swans led by one point. With no one between him and goal and Bulldogs ruckman Tim English his nearest opponent, Florent took off. He took one bounce but, with English chasing hard enough to make a second risky, he settled and fired from 45m. His shot tracked straight for goal and never deviated, even when it bounced in the goalsquare. It was a clinical finish from a prodigious talent and an appropriate finish to a thrilling game.

2. Buddy escapes from Wood's clutches.
With the Bulldogs missing Zaine Cordy through suspension and Marcus Adams and Dale Morris through injury, captain Easton Wood was given the big job on Lance Franklin. Wood was conceding 12cm and 21kg to the Swans spearhead, but quickly showed he could match him for speed on the lead and athleticism at ground level. Franklin struggled to escape his Bulldog shadow in the first quarter when he didn't take a mark, but worked his way into the game in the second term, kicking two behinds and setting up an Isaac Heeney goal on the half-time siren with an exquisite pass. The Swan turned the match on its head in the third term with two goals and again stood tall in the final quarter when he added a third major. He finished with 3.4 and 10 marks, four of them contested, and was the difference between the two teams.

3. Bulldogs' bark is back
Entering round four, the question remained whether the Bulldogs' first win of the season against Essendon in round three was a sign the 2016 premiers had put their dismal start to the season behind them or simply a false dawn. Luke Beveridge's men quickly showed it was the former when they piled on five goals in the opening term and then bounded to a 22-point lead when they kicked the opening two goals of the second quarter. The frantic pressure and relentless running that returned last week against the Dons was again on show against one of the competition's best teams. As expected, the Swans hit back hard, but the Dogs never relented and but for a few missed opportunities in the last quarter – most notably a dropped Josh Dunkley mark close to goal – could easily have run out winners. If the Dogs can maintain that sort of form for the rest of the season, they should return to finals this year.

4. Swans at home at Etihad
Etihad Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Sydney in recent seasons. Entering Saturday's game, they had won 12 of their previous 13 games at the Docklands venue. Their one loss in that time – you guessed it – came at the hands of the Western Bulldogs, in round two last season by 23 points. The Swans ensured their good record would continue when they overcame a slow start, which had them 22 points down early in the second term, to run out seven-point winners. A burst of five consecutive goals between the second and third terms, a brilliant second half from Lance Franklin and Florent's late goal proved the difference in the end, but not before Swans coach John Longmire suffered a few more grey hairs.

5. Tory Dickson shows some bite of his own
Bulldog Tory Dickson was in the news earlier this week as the victim of a bite from Essendon defender Conor McKenna. Twenty minutes into Saturday's game, the forward put that behind him with a special goal that thrust him back in the spotlight for all the right reasons. Bursting into the clear near the boundary line, the sharp-shooter quickly weighed up his options, then went with a banana kick from 35m that sailed through the goalposts like it had eyes. It was Dickson's first goal of the season, but came via the type of brilliance that should help re-establish him in the Dogs' team.