Swans bounce back, overcome injury-hit Eagles

Star midfielders Isaac Heeney and Errol Gulden have continued their strong starts to the AFL season as Sydney ground out a 26-point win over a spirited West Coast.

The Swans withstood a first-half challenge before pulling away for a 15.14 (104) to 11.12 (78) victory at Mount Barker on Saturday.

West Coast outscored an opponent in a quarter for the first time this season - kicking 5.6 to 3.2 in the second term - and held a narrow five-point lead at the main break.

But they were overrun in the second half as Sydney's class prevailed in front of 9225 fans.

Heeney (26 disposals, seven clearances) and Gulden (27, seven) stepped up at the right times and kicked two goals each - a tally matched by Will Hayward, Joel Amartey and Logan McDonald.

James Rowbottom (19 disposals, six clearances) and Nick Blakey (25 touches) were also busy and Brodie Grundy was influential in the ruck as the Swans enjoyed a 44-32 advantage in clearances.

Jack Darling and Nick Blakey.
Defender Nick Blakey launches the Swans into attack against the winless Eagles.

Grundy had a game-high eight of those clearances himself along with 20 disposals and 31 hitouts.

Sydney coach John Longmire was pleased his players were able to battle their way to a win that took the Swans to 4-1 going into a bye next week.

"You aim for great footy all the time but sometimes you've just got to find ways to play well," Longmire said.

"Today we were able to do that at different times and some players really lifted and were able to get us through.

"You can't underestimate how hard it is to win AFL games. It's really tough.

"To be able to sit here after the first six weeks and to have played some good footy - we know what we can do - but also we had to roll up our sleeves and get it done today.

"It's been a solid block and we'll have a couple of days off and get back to work."

Making matters worse for West Coast, Ryan Maric was taken to hospital with fractured ribs and a punctured lung after he was cannoned into by teammate Jack Darling in a marking contest.

The scary incident came after Luke Edwards had already been substituted out with a minor hamstring injury.

Much-hyped No.1 draft pick Harley Reid was among the Eagles' best and stood out with his strength and aggression around the contest.

Harley Reid and Isaac Heaney.
Eagles teenager Harley Reid gains a possession and prepares to take on Isaac Heaney.

He kicked his first AFL goal and finished with 18 disposals in another encouraging performance.

West Coast veteran Elliot Yeo (28 disposals, six clearances) and co-captain Liam Duggan (30 touches) battled hard while defender Jeremy McGovern fought on despite losing teeth in a collision with Braeden Campbell.

The Eagles (0-4) remain winless at the foot of the ladder but coach Adam Simpson said they would take away "small wins" from an improved performance against a side that belted them by a record 171 points last season.

"We were up for the fight," Simpson said.

"The guys, I don't think they're high-fiving in there (the changeroom), but I think we can start to see a tiny bit of our identity and get a little bit of reward for the work that they're putting in."

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