- from afl.com.au
RELIEVED Sydney Swans coach John Longmire paid tribute to his side’s mental toughness - but also that of his opposition Essendon - after a thrilling come-from-behind 12-point win at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The Swans kicked 7.4 in the final term and kept the exhausted Bombers scoreless in a stunning turnaround.
Essendon jumped out of the blocks to lead by 26 points at quarter-time, with the home side going inside 50 just five times in the first term.
Longmire’s men awoke after the break but could only manage 1.6 from 20 inside fifties in the second quarter. Despite the poor return, Longmire said he was positive at half-time.
"We started to change the momentum in the second quarter, but we didn’t get reward for effort and it was slipping away from us," Longmire said.
"We thought that the change had happened by quarter-time and even though the scoreboard didn’t correlate the same way, we thought the effort and intensity had changed.
"There’s no doubt in that last quarter we needed to keep running and running and we did."
The 2012 premiership coach was at a loss to explain his side’s slow start for the second straight season, after the Swans suffered a shock loss to cross-town rival Greater Western Sydney last year.
In slippery conditions the home side’s big men were hardly sighted in the opening half.
Buddy Franklin, Kurt Tippett and Sam Reid had just nine possessions and three marks between them. Thankfully for the Swans, Franklin and Tippett eventually came to life after the main break and shared five goals to help inspire the amazing win.
"Sometimes you have to just keep going at it and we threw things around a bit," Longmire said.
"There were some big efforts up forward, the boys up front started to hit the scoreboard which made a big difference in the last quarter."
Longmire was glowing in his praise of the Essendon players.
"Essendon are a pretty mentally tough playing group. What they’ve gone through over the last couple of years, to come out and perform like that, they’re a mentally strong group led by Jobe Watson," Longmire said.
"Fortunately our blokes found a way, and that’s important sometimes, it’s just about finding that effort and finding a way to win and we were able to do that."
Young sensation Isaac Heeney was another to impress the coach. He finished with 17 touches and seven tackles, and added a goal to seal the win.
"He’s pretty hard, he’s clean, (kicked a) handy goal at the end, so he’s experienced all the emotions I guess, but he competes and runs hard," Longmire said.
"He’s flexible, can go back, forward or mid, so he’s got a good taste of what AFL footy is like tonight."