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NEAFL: Swans ruck 'n' roll

Sydney Swans youngster Joel Amartey.
Joel Amartey is a bit of a different ruckman to Michael Knoll. He’s more of a burst-type ruckman, he’s very explosive and he knows how to get his hand to it in the ruck. He gave us a lot of first use in the game.
Lloyd Perris

With ruckmen Callum Sinclair and Darcy Cameron tackling lengthy stints in the injury ward, the Sydney Swans’ clash with the Southport Sharks on Saturday fared as an ideal chance to test alternative top-level candidates.

As coach John Longmire considers whether to continue with makeshift duo Aliir Aliir and Sam Reid at the stoppages, yet-to-debut rookies Michael Knoll and Joel Amartey split the ruck load in Sydney’s 47-point win at Blacktown International Sportspark.

The rising pair were crucial to the 14.12 (96) to 7.7 (49) victory, with Knoll posting 22 hit-outs and Amartey collecting 19 hit-outs and two goals.

In further good news, evergreen Swan Jarrad McVeigh tallied 21 disposals, eight tackles and a goal on a successful 80-minute return from a hamstring strain, while Ryan Clarke (41 touches), Ryley Stoddart (29 possessions, one goal) and Robbie Fox (27 disposals, one goal) inspired the win. 

But it was the double act in the ruck of Knoll and Amartey that was of greatest significance, and development coach Lloyd Perris said the big-framed Swans showed promise.

“It was just about giving Joel an opportunity to show us what he can do in the ruck. Obviously the ruck spot is up for grabs in the seniors, so it was about giving Michael and Joel equal opportunity to impress,” Perris told Swans Media.

“They were both pretty good. Michael is growing every week. He’s obviously been through a fair bit of change over the last year, but he’s learning a lot and taking it all in his stride.

“Joel is a bit of a different ruckman. He’s more of a burst-type ruckman, he’s very explosive and he knows how to get his hand to it in the ruck. He gave us a lot of first use in the game.”

Midfielders Clarke and Fox thrived off the strong rucking, while defender Stoddart again showed his exceptional attacking flare.

“Ryan Clarke knows how to find the footy and he just works so hard all day. He played a big part in the win,” Perris said.

“Ryan and Robbie combined really well in the midfield, and Ryley gave us plenty of drive off halfback, so they were the main contributors. 

“Ryley has had a good couple of weeks, he’s very talented and it’s starting to show." 

McVeigh made his first appearance since tearing his hamstring in the West Coast Eagles match in Round 13, dividing his time between the midfield and half-back to earn Perris’ praise.

“Jarrad was good. He was really clean with the ball as he has been throughout his whole career,” Perris said.

“It was good to see him get through the game, which was the main thing, and the young boys loved having him around as he’s obviously got a wealth of experience." 

Sam Wicks (26 touches, one goal), Daniel Menzel (22 possessions, two goals) and Hayden McLean (three goals) were also among the Swans’ most prominent contributors.

Meanwhile, stocky youngster Kyle McKellar was the best of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy top-ups on his way to 18 disposals and six tackles, and fellow Academy star Sam Thorne (17 touches, one goal) also fired.

The win means Sydney and Southport are now both level on the ladder on 36 points, with the Brisbane Lions leading the way on 48.

The Swans are now set for a bye and will return to Blacktown International Sportspark for a game against the Lions on Sunday, July 28.

Sydney Swans 1.3 5.6 8.8 14.12 (96)

Southport Sharks 2.2 4.3 6.4 7.7 (49)

Goals – Sydney: H McLean 3, J Amartey 2, D Menzel 2, J Barling, Z Foot, R Fox, J McVeigh, R Stoddart, S Thorne, S Wicks