Against the Crows they had more inside-50 entries – 55 to 53 – but generated six fewer shots on goal and never looked nearly as threatening going forward, which is an issue Longmire has underlined internally.
“That’s what we’re working on – trying to get better method with our ball in hand, not making basic errors, being able to transfer the ball up the ground,” he said.
“It’s just making sure we play with more system than what we’ve been doing. We’ll keep working on those things, it’s a never-ending process.”
The Swans are reasonably warm favourites to account for the Blues, who won just two games last year but look an entirely different proposition on the evidence so far this season. Brendon Bolton’s men hung with Port Adelaide for large stretches of their match on Saturday and also gave Richmond more troubles than many expected in their season-opener.
Sydney’s quest to improve their forward-half efficiency could be boosted with the potential returns of veteran on-baller Kieren Jack and young gun Tom McCartin, who both starred in an NEAFL practice match over the weekend.
Jack, a 248-game veteran, is coming off knee surgery in the summer while key forward McCartin has overcome some concussion troubles to put himself in the selection mix.
Longmire said he would have no qualms about playing three taller options in McCartin, Sam Reid and Lance Franklin in the same forward line, with draftee Nick Blakey’s ability to push further up the ground giving the team structural flexibility if required.
Franklin almost single-handedly pulled the Swans out of the fire on Friday night with a captivating three-goal display and has recovered well from the match – an encouraging sign given his well-documented fitness struggles. But waiting on some Buddy magic to swing the momentum of a game is something Sydney can ill afford to do.
“When the team gets challenged, he’s able to lift,” Longmire said. “But it’s not just about Lance, it’s about making sure there’s more players jumping on board when that happens.”
Longmire repeated his call for bigger performances from his younger players. The Swans have plenty of them but they aren’t getting the same return from them as, for example, Port Adelaide, a team whose early-season success is actually being driven by the energy of their draftees.
“They’ve played significant roles, the young players in our team, for quite a while now for the last couple of years,” Longmire said.
“We’d like to be able to have that consistency keep improving. That’s not always an upwards curve. We understand that, but we’d like more of an even contribution across our 22 than what we’ve been getting.”
Arguably the leader of Sydney’s next generation, Isaac Heeney, is still struggling with the ankle injury he picked up in their second JLT series match and is on light training duties this week. Longmire is confident he will be right to play Carlton, but said that was the reason why he has played more up forward and less in midfield than would have otherwise been expected.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.