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Sublime Swans teach ‘hopeless’ Giants a lesson in the west

Instead they dished up a simply putrid performance, slumping to an alarming 10.6 (66) to 3.7 (25) defeat – one that puts their finals hopes in real jeopardy and should invite a fresh round of questioning over coach Leon Cameron’s ability to draw the best out of his uber-talented list.

Now 6-5 for the year and stuck in a mid-ladder logjam, GWS look a shadow of the team that bulldozed their way to a maiden grand final appearance last season, and appear to be coasting in the expectation that the same will magically happen again.

“We thought we’d found a little bit of form over the last three weeks but clearly we got found out today,” Cameron said.

“We lost a bit of respect as a footy club tonight, we’ve let our supporters down and we’re the only ones that can turn it around – noone else but us.

“We need to find [our best] and find it quick because there’s six games to go, and if we serve up that tripe then there’s going to be inconsistent performances like we’ve had for the majority of the year.”

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The Swans, meanwhile, gave their fans a tantalising glimpse of the future, swarming with intensity from start to finish. They’re still learning on the job right now, but soon enough they’ll be able to do this kind of thing week in, week out.

“We’ve played a quarter here and a quarter there but we haven’t really put together a performance like that probably since round one,” coach John Longmire said.

“We’ve got a long way to go, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but you need some good feelings to cross that period of learning and growing and tonight was one of those things – if we work hard and get the basics of the game right, that’s the way we like to play.”

Young gun James Rowbottom was exceptional in midfield with 20 disposals and eight clearances, Longmire’s decision to move Nick Blakey paid off handsomely with 18 touches and two goals, while the slick Jordan Dawson also kicked two majors.

Co-captain Luke Parker was everywhere, as usual, with 29 possessions and the Brett Kirk Medal for best afield. And Dane Rampe was all over Jeremy Cameron like the glove he’s still wearing on his broken right hand.

The Giants, granted, had no Phil Davis or Toby Greene. But they also had no answers.

Josh Kelly (31 disposals) stood out among a well-beaten pack, with 12 Giants players finishing the game with 10 or fewer possessions.

The only three goals they mustered were from questionable free kicks – to Cameron in the second term, Jeremy Finlayson in the third, and Zac Langdon in the last, by which stage the game was well and truly gone.

James Rowbottom was one of the Swans' standouts with 20 disposals and eight clearances.

James Rowbottom was one of the Swans’ standouts with 20 disposals and eight clearances.Credit:Getty

Langdon’s late effort at least saved GWS from the ignominy of setting a record for their worst-ever score. Instead they repeated the same sorry numbers they put up in last year’s forgettable AFL grand final.

Their first-half score of 1.3 (9) was their worst first-half effort since their inaugural season.

An honest Stephen Coniglio summed it up perfectly at the long break, speaking to Fox Sports as he trudged off the field: “Hopeless, really. I think they want it more. Just simply not good enough.”

But when they emerged from the sheds, the Giants provided little in the way of a response, and the Swans continued to mop up everything they threw at them.

Debutant Zac Foot’s maiden AFL goal gave Sydney an emotional boost in the third term, before Jackson Thurlow converted a free kick to give them a game-high 28-point lead.

It was one of four goals kicked by the Swans in a dream-like final term. For GWS, this was the stuff of absolute nightmares.

SYDNEY SWANS 3.1 5.2 6.5 10.6 (66)
GWS GIANTS 0.1 1.3 2.6 3.7 (25)

GOALS – Sydney Swans: Dawson 2, Blakey 2, Hayward, Thurlow, Bell, Rowbottom, Stephens, Foot
GWS Giants: Langdon, Cameron, Finlayson

BEST – Sydney Swans: Rampe, Lloyd, Sinclair, Parker
GWS Giants: Kelly, Williams, Perryman, Coniglio

UMPIRES: Haussen, Rosebury, Broadbent
VENUE: Optus Stadium
CROWD: 6464

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