Off-season Sydney Swans recruit Daniel Menzel has stamped his first game in red and white with three goals to help his new club to a 22-point win over Sydney University on Saturday afternoon.
A groin injury had limited Menzel to the sideline over the opening rounds of the season, but the former Geelong Cats dynamo now has one game in the bag after Sydney’s 17.14 (116) to 14.10 (94) victory at Marrickville’s Henson Park.
The 27-year-old, who booted 136 goals in 73 games in Geelong colours, showed enough in his 70-80 minutes of game time to get a nod from Sydney development coach Lloyd Perris.
“Dan was really good. He got through the game injury-free, he hit all his targets and he played about 70-80 minutes, so he’ll be really happy with that,” Perris told Swans Media.
“He obviously kicked a few goals, which we know he can do, so he proved again that he can hit the scoreboard.
“He bought in well, he drives the players around him to get better and he demands the best, so we’re really happy.”
Menzel and the rest of Sydney’s forward line was well serviced by a powering midfield contingent, with Ryan Clarke (40 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal) and James Rowbottom (27 touches, two goals, eight tackles) the driving forces.
Rowbottom, along with fellow first-year draftees Nick Blakey and Justin McInerney, is one of three Swans the club has blooded in the AFL this season – and his impact in the engine room and forward line again showed on Saturday why he’s already received a shot at the big time.
Perris said Rowbottom thrived on the congested nature of Saturday’s clash with the Students.
“It was a bit of a scrappy game and that suits James because he’s so tough and keeps willing himself on the contest with his second and third efforts,” Perris said.
“We’re really pleased with James’ performance. He was outstanding from the start and he has some good leadership traits as well, which we needed after losing Colin O'Riordan to the AFL and with being a young side. James is a really competitive kid but has got good leadership qualities as well, so he’s tracking along nicely.”
Perris was also rapt with the performances of livewire James Rose, who gathered 27 disposals and a goal, as well as youngster Harry Reynolds, who posted 23 touches and was critical as a key defender.
James Bell (22 touches, two goals) and Ben Ronke (20 disposals, two goals) were also among the best, while Sam Wicks was ruthless on his way to 23 possessions and a match-high 13 tackles.
And third-year ruckman Darcy Cameron was rubbed out of the game during the opening quarter due to a calf strain, but Joel Amartey chalked up 16 disposals, a match-high 42 hit-outs and a goal in a rock-solid fill-in performance.
The win saw Sydney tally its fifth win of the season in a compelling response to last week’s loss to the Brisbane Lions.
It means the Swans now sit in third on the ladder behind the first-placed Lions and second-placed Southport Sharks.
“It was really pleasing to return to the winners’ list,” Perris said.
“We found some form early and hit the lead, and we then dropped off towards the end, but we’re really pleased with the performance. We had a lot of key contributors so that was a really important aspect of getting the four points.”
Sydney Swans 6.5 8.6 13.13 17.14 (116)
Sydney University 1.2 5.6 7.6 14.10 (94)
Goals – Sydney: D Menzel 3, J Bell 2, S Gaden 2, J Rowbottom 2, J Amartey, R Clarke, Z Foot, J McInerney, J Pawle, J Rose