Swan Districts coach Greg Harding praised the resilience of his young playing group after the Black-and-Whites came from behind to snatch a thrilling one-point win over Perth at Lathlain Park today.
Goals to Tony Notte and Ryan Davis (two) in the dying stages got Swans over the line after Perth had kicked the first three goals of the final quarter to build an 18-point buffer.
Veteran forward Tim Geappen and the inexperienced Ricky Cary kicked three goals each for Swans, who emerged 14.8 (92) to 13.13 (91) winners.
It was Swans’ third straight win, putting them in third position after many observers had tipped them to finish near the bottom of the ladder.
“I reckon these boys have shown a hell of a lot of resilience already this year, especially given the fact that everyone had us right down the bottom,” Harding said.
“The club comes under a fair bit of pressure when that’s what people are expecting, that you’re going to lose games of footy pretty consistently.
“But they’ve shown resilience to just keep trying their best and playing really good footy.”
Swans dominated the opening exchanges and had two goals on the board through Davis and Geappen before Perth could even get their hands on the ball.
The visitors kicked the opening five majors in a nine-minute burst generated by their hard-running midfielders, including Blaine Boekhorst, Adam Faulkner and Matt Riggio.
But Perth hit back and controlled play for the rest of the first quarter, cutting a 30-point deficit back to seven points by the first break.
Former West Coast tall Tony Notte provided the highlight of the day with a spectacular high mark taken on the shoulders of an opponent in the first quarter.
Swans maintained their advantage during a dour second term but fell behind as Perth made full use of the breeze in the third quarter.
The Demons kicked six goals to three for the term and snatched the lead for the first time when Gerald Ugle kicked his first major in time-on.
Swans temporarily lost Tallan Ames and Aaron Elari to the blood rule following a sickening clash of heads between the pair, but both returned to the field of play.
Perth led by a point at the start of the final term and extended their advantage through Matthew Moody, who made the most of space afforded to him in the goal square to boot the first two goals of the quarter.
The Demons looked in control when Michael Florio extended the margin to three goals nearing time-on, but Swans wrested momentum in the midfield and turned the game on its head.
“Our first 10 minutes was scintillating but from that point on I thought Perth dominated us for nearly three-and-a-half quarters,” Harding said.
“We kicked really nicely for goal, which kept us in the contest.
“Ricky Cary was fantastic and we just kept finishing in front of goals to keep our noses in front.
“We felt like we were out of control but the way the boys responded when we were three goals down was just awesome.
“Perth were desperately unlucky to lose but our boys hung in there and gave themselves a chance.”
Faulkner (30 possessions), Boekhorst (26) and Travis Casserly (25) were the major ball winners for Swans, who were well-served by Alex Howard and Graham Jetta in defence.
Perth received good service from debutant Benjamin Power, who kicked a goal and split the points in a good battle with Nathan Blakely in the ruck.
Moody finished with three goals, while Paul Bevan kicked two.
|GOALS – SWAN DISTRICTS: Davis, Geappen, Cary 3; Rogers, Jukes 2; Notte. PERTH: Moody 3; Bevan 2; O'Sullivan, Ugle, Stack, Florio, C Morton, Power, Lynch, Collard.|
BEST - SWANS: Boekhorst, Faulkner, Casserly, N Blakely, Cary, Davis. PERTH: Bevan, M Morton, Power, J Morton, Lynch, Florio.