Errol Gulden.
Swans midfielder Errol Gulden has played a major role in Sydney's win over GWS at the SCG. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Swans cruise to wet weather derby win over Giants

Joanna Guelas May 4, 2024

Sydney have handed cross-city rivals Greater Western Sydney a 29-point defeat to consolidate their spot as the harbour city’s No.1 team.

Trailing by 15 points after the first quarter, John Longmire’s Swans stunned the Giants with a blistering second-half performance to claim bragging rights with a 14.14 (98) to 10.9 (69) triumph on Saturday in front of a 40,337-strong crowd at the SCG.

GWS started brightly, despite conceding the opener to James Rowbottom, before torrential rain drastically changed conditions.

Will Hayward celebrates for the Swans against GWS.
 Will Hayward (c) celebrates one of his goals in the Swans’ derby win over the Giants. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

The Swans adjusted best, limiting the visitors to just two behinds for the second term and taking a nine-point lead to the main break.

Jesse Hogan, Brent Daniels and Darcy Jones kicked a goal apiece in the third quarter to keep the Giants in the game, but their hard work was undone by a starting position infringement in the dying seconds.

Tom Papley was able to score, leaving GWS coach Adam Kingsley unable to contain his frustrations on the bench.

The Giants’ famous ‘big, big sound’ was all but reduced to a whimper in the fourth term, with Chad Warner hammering the final nail in the coffin.

“They had a real thirst for the contest that we didn’t have,” Kingsley said.

“I didn’t think we handled the conditions. We fumbled the ball, we tried to over handball.

“We know against good teams, if you’re slightly off in any aspect of the game you can really get punished … so we know where we’re at.

“We’re confident in our abilities but we’re certainly not the finished product yet.”

It was Errol Gulden (29 disposals, five clearances) who claimed the Brett Kirk Medal awarded to the best afield in Sydney derbies played at the SCG.

Sydney and GWS players contest a high ball.
 The pack flies for a high ball in the AFL’s 27th home-and-away Sydney derby. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

Giants midfielder Callan Ward was earnest in his attempts to keep Isaac Heeney quiet, but the early season Brownlow Medal favourite registered 26 disposals and seven clearances regardless.

Heeney and Gulden were well-supported by Warner (28 disposals, eight clearances) and Rowbottom (two goals, 21 disposals), while Brodie Grundy (35 hitouts) took out the ruck struggle against Kieren Briggs (23).

“We were really pleased with our midfield battle. It was a tough battle against an A-grade-quality unit in the opposition,” Longmire said.

“That was probably the thing that stood out.”

Josh Kelly (24 disposals) and utility James Peatling (23) were the shining stars in a Giants midfield missing Stephen Coniglio (knee), while Daniels (two goals) and Hogan (two) led in attack.

GWS will have an anxious wait over the fitness of Tom Green after the midfield bull was injured, leaving the ground in the first quarter after a Hayden McLean tackle on Finn Callaghan caught his left ankle.

Star goalkicker Callum Brown could be in trouble after laying a high bump on Tom McCartin in the second term, sending the key defender to ground before the Swans soon after subbed him out.

McCartin has an unfortunate history with head injuries, missing seven games last season with two separate concussions.