Sydney Swans duo Sam Wicks and James Rowbottom reminded the masses of the red-hot pool of talent emerging at the club at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday.
The first-year draftees were spectacular in Sydney’s 25-point loss to GWS, spearheading the Swans’ midfield brigade in a 15.11 (101) to 11.10 (76) defeat.
Wicks, who’s this season floated between the midfield and forward line, paired eight tackles with a match-high 40 disposals, while Rowbottom collected 32 touches and six tackles in the cross-city duel.
Sydney development coach Lloyd Perris offered sparkling reviews of the young stars’ performances.
“Sam Wicks was really good today. He found a fair bit of the footy and just kept competing all day,” Perris told Swans Media.
“He really dug in, he tackles hard and he’s really ferocious around the ball, so he was pretty impressive today.
“James Rowbottom had another good game as well – just another one where he competed hard and kept getting the ball out of the midfield.
“Sam and James were no doubt the big stand-outs for us on the day.”
The Giants took an eight-point lead into quarter-time and combatted every Swans challenge from that point on.
Sydney piled on four goals in a free-flowing third term, but GWS proved a cut above on its way to six goals for the quarter, before running out the game with three final-stanza majors.
But the Swans have maintained third place on the ladder despite Sunday’s loss, with the Brisbane Lions (first) and Southport Sharks (second) leading the way.
Perris said his team was left to rue too many turnovers in the clash with the Giants.
“It was a disappointing result in the end. We thought we played some good footy in patches, and we had some really good contributors, but unfortunately we couldn’t get them in the end,” Perris said.
“We turned the ball over too much by foot, and being a strong GWS side, they were able to really hurt us back the other way. That’s what ultimately cost us in the end.”
Explosive small forward Ben Ronke was another of the Swans’ best on his way to three goals, while Perris was also impressed with the game of young defender Toby Pink.
“Toby was another key contributor today,” Perris said.
“He really led our defensive unit and played a strong and assertive game at full-back.”
Pink was drafted as a rookie-listed forward ahead of season 2017, but his 2019 campaign has seen Sydney trial him as a key defender.
The Swans are now scheduled for a bye and will face the Canberra Demons in the nation’s capital in two weeks’ time.
GWS 3.3 6.7 12.8 15.11 (101)
Sydney Swans 2.1 4.2 8.5 11.10 (76)
Goals – Sydney: B Ronke 3, M Knoll 2, K McGrath 2, D Cameron, S Eynaud, Z Foot, K McKellar