Tough questions ahead for Sydney - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tough questions ahead for Sydney

By Adam Cooper 13/09/2008 12:03:06 AM Comments (0)

Paul Roos was wrong when he declared recently his side would have little impact in the AFL finals, but now the tough appraisal must be made of Sydney.

The Swans' elimination, at the hands of the Western Bulldogs in the semi-final at the MCG, brought to an end Sydney's sixth successive finals campaign.

But this exit could be more profound, as it must surely end the era which gleaned the 2005 premiership, a berth in the 2006 grand final and a reputation as one of the toughest, team-oriented sides in modern history.

Ruckman Peter Everitt announced his retirement after the game and a handful of other thirty-somethings are likely to consider their futures over the coming weeks.

Roos conceded the Swans would have little bearing in the finals after they were thumped by Collingwood in round 21.

That gloomy prediction was delayed a week, as Sydney recovered to storm over North Melbourne in last week's elimination final at ANZ Stadium.

But after half-time tonight they were no match for the Bulldogs, who are heavy on pace and run.

The difference was effectively summed up in the third quarter, when the Swans got the ball to Barry Hall, their only viable target in attack.

But Hall's miss gave the Bulldogs possession and Lindsay Gilbee passed to Jason Akermanis, who got the ball on to Ryan Griffen, who applied the burners, took three bounces and drilled a goal to put the Dogs 29 points up.

Aside from Tadhg Kennelly, the Swans were badly shown up for pace, especially with Adam Goodes - the side's superstar - labouring in the forward line and clearly not fully fit.

Hall battled manfully to finish with four goals, but he is one of a clutch of senior Swans whose futures must be closely assessed over coming weeks.

Although Everitt and Ben Mathews are now retired, Leo Barry, Brett Kirk, Jared Crouch and Michael O'Loughlin (absent tonight, injured) are also 30 or over and nearing the end of their careers.

Sydney's defeat tonight was their seventh from their last 10 games, which points to a season that petered out.

They must consider the best way to plan for the future, whether it be through recruiting experienced players from other clubs to ensure they stay on the cusp of the finals - and keep fans in Sydney interested - or rebuild.

Roos said the Swans had blooded younger players in 2008, but was unsure how far his side was behind the rest of the major contenders.

"We've improved on last year, which is something we tried to do in the off-season," Roos said.

"We tried to address some of the things we weren't quite as good at last year, we made a few trades and played some young kids this year.

"We have improved as a team, but I think everyone's a fair way behind Geelong, and then how far are we behind the Bulldogs and Hawthorn and St Kilda and Collingwood, who are still in it?

"I think we have improved, (but) then you've got to say 'How do we get back to winning a premiership?', which is obviously very hard to do."

Everitt, 34, bowed out after 291 games in 16 seasons in the AFL, firstly with St Kilda, then Hawthorn and two years with the Swans.

"I was honoured to come up here and have a couple of years," he said.

"Obviously it didn't finish the way we would have liked, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

"I've enjoyed it and I'll hopefully stay involved with the Swans somehow in the future."

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