A limp AFL grand final performance from Sydney’s forward line has reopened the debate about the Swans relying too much on talisman Lance Franklin.
While Sydney’s new-look forward line has won plenty of plaudits from their coach this season for their pressure, they were clearly found wanting in an offensive capacity on Saturday.
Franklin battled on bravely after a first quarter ankle injury in Saturday’s 22-point loss to the Western Bulldogs, but got little support in the goalkicking stakes from his forward colleagues.
The Swans forwards kicked only three of their 10 goals, one of them a Franklin trademark long-distance bomb in the final quarter to give his team some brief hope.
Sydney continued to direct plenty of kicks inside their forward 50 to him, but Franklin was generally well contained and often had to deal with more than one defender.
Kurt Tippett, Xavier Richards and Gary Rohan had little impact as did the small forward brigade of Tom Papley, George Hewett and Ben McGlynn, with those six players mustering a combined tally of just two goals..
Tippett alternated between the ruck and forward line but finished goalless for the seventh time in his past eight matches.
Rohan is Sydney’s X-factor, but only touched the ball five times on Saturday and tallied just seven disposals in the 2014 grand final.
Hewett and Richards were both converted to forwards this season but struggled to stamp their presence on the grand final.
Sydney missed the proven marking ability of key forward Sam Reid, who didn’t play a senior game during the season due to injury.
Reid’s return in 2017 would surely take some pressure of Franklin, who with 81 goals, finished a staggering 52 majors ahead of Papley, Sydney’s next highest goalkicker.
No other club had anywhere near as big a gap between their top two goalkickers.
The Bulldogs had only two goals separating their top two goalkickers Jake Stringer (42) and Tory Dickson (40), and Greater Western Sydney Giants had four players finish between 38 and 53 goals.
GAPS BETWEEN LEADING GOALKICKERS .AT THE SAME AFL CLUB
* 52 – SYDNEY: Lance Franklin, 81, Tom Papley 29
* 39 – GOLD COAST: Tom Lynch 66, Peter Wright 27
* 38 WEST COAST: Josh Kennedy 82, Jack Darling 44