By JESS WEBSTER
A shattered Sydney coach Rhyce Shaw conceded Brisbane was the better team when it mattered most as the Swans crashed to another heart-breaking NEAFL Grand Final defeat on Saturday night.
The Swans’ three-point loss to the Lions was the third time in the past four years the club has lost a Grand Final by less than a goal, after Aspley (two points in 2014) and the GIANTS (four points last year).
The minor premier was left to rue missed chances at goal as they wasted 10.22 for the match. Shaw told neafl.com.au they simply didn’t play their best, and struggled to combat Brisbane.
“I certainly believe Brisbane were the better team on the day,” he said.
“We just didn’t bring our ‘A-game’. For three quarters we really battled. We just didn’t have the effort and energy that’s required on these days.
“Until the last quarter, we really didn’t have a sniff, to be honest. I thought Brisbane controlled the game comprehensively for most of it.
“The last quarter we started to bring some effort and some pressure, but we had 12 scoring shots and only kicked three goals. That pretty much sums it up.”
Sydney has been a constant figure on the NEAFL finals stage, but has never tasted the ultime success.
The Swans lost the 2011 and 2012 Eastern Conference finals, before winning in 2013, only to lose to Brisbane in the NEAFL Championship final by eight points.
From 2014 onwards, when the NEAFL merged its conferences into a single league, the Swans have lost the 2014, 2016 and 2017 Grand Finals by a combined nine points.
For a club which has enjoyed plenty of success at AFL level in recent years, Shaw said it’s difficult to find the reason why they haven’t broken the drought in the NEAFL.
But the 2012 Swans premiership player said he is proud of their standing as the competition’s benchmark, and the overall success of developing players to AFL standard.
“I’m really proud of the program we’ve set up, and how we are developing our players, the standards that we keep and what’s expected, and I think that drives us to get to these points (Grand Finals),” he said.
“We had another nine draftees this year, so the group is really different. There are guys from last year but they are different they are young.
“I can’t put a finger on it (losses) but I’m really proud of how we go about it, and to reach these finals year-in, year-out is a really great effort – but we do need to get over the line in one of them.”
With over a dozen AFL debutants in the past two years, and Sydney advancing to an AFL Semi-Final next week, Shaw said the future remains bright at the club.
“We’ve had 13 debutants in the last two years, and we consider ourselves a top four (AFL) side. We didn’t get there this year but we certainly one of the form sides in the AFL again,” he said.
“For us to keep developing and blooding these guys, and bringing them into the system and making sure they know the standards and expectations, that’s been a really big positive for us.
“That’s what the whole thing is about. We want the whole club to be successful, and obviously we are, but (on Saturday night) Brisbane were way too good for us.”
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