Sport AFL Sydney Swans’ AFL finals hopes in jeopardy after loss to Essendon
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Sydney Swans’ AFL finals hopes in jeopardy after loss to Essendon

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Sydney coach John Longmire admits time is running out for the Swans to save their AFL season after losing to Essendon by 43 points. Photo: AAP
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Sydney’s AFL season is in free-fall and coach John Longmire admits the Swans are running out of time to put their parachute up.

Friday night’s 43-point loss to Essendon has left the Swans at risk of missing the finals for the first time under coach John Longmire’s eight-year tenure.

The 15.19 (109) to 10.6 (66) defeat – their fourth from five games, including last week’s shock loss to Gold Coast – leaves the Swans fifth on the ladder but they could finish the weekend out of the eight depending on other results.

That would leave them in significant danger given their run home includes games against top eight rivals Collingwood, Melbourne, GWS and Hawthorn.

The Swans were held goalless during the final term and finished well behind in inside-50s (39-72) and tackles (45-64).

Longmire believes his side can still turn things around but admits time is running out with four games remaining.

“We’ve got to put the parachute up and stop the fall pretty quickly,” he said.

“It’s not going to happen the way we played the last quarter tonight. There might be a couple of players coming back next week but they’re not all coming back, so we need to have a pretty narrow focus on what we need to get right.”

The Swans have been battered by injuries with premiership players Dan Hannebery, Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack and Sam Reid among the casualties.

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Longmire may struggle to bring his team back to form after several key players suffering injuries. Photo: AAP

“We’d love all those personnel to be up and firing, and fit, and feeling fantastic, but for various reasons, they’re not,” Longmire said.

“We need to just get our focus back on the contest and the willingness to win our one-on-ones and the pressure against opposition.

“Those are the things that we can get right, regardless of personnel.”

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The Bombers led throughout the second half and ran away with the game in the final term to post their sixth win from seven games. Photo: AAP

Essendon Skipper Dyson Heppell (31 disposals) led the way with Devon Smith (17 touches, two goals) and Brendon Goddard also influential.

“We’re just really keen to keep improving on what we’re trying to do,” coach John Worsfold said of the Bombers’ finals prospects.

“Whatever the outcome is in a number of weeks’ time, that will take care of itself.”

The Bombers went a man down midway through the opening term when backman Matt Dea landed heavily in a marking contest and hit his head on the turf.

Dea left the ground on a stretcher and played no further part in the game.

Sydney’s in-form key defender Aliir Aliir (knee), midfielder Harry Cunningham (ribs) and veteran Heath Grundy (illness) all spent time in the rooms during Friday night’s game but Longmire was confident there were no long-term concerns.

Sydney are likely to be without Zak Jones in coming weeks with the backman certain to face match review scrutiny.

The Swans enforcer was reported before the opening bounce for striking Zach Merrett with a crude left hook.

Jones was booked again in the fourth quarter for a high bump on Kyle Langford, who was sent to hospital after reporting lingering shoulder pain.

-AAP