No Kennedy, no worries for gutsy AFL Swans
Despite the odds being stacked against Sydney from the moment Josh Kennedy withdrew from their AFL clash, coach John Longmire found out his young Swans don't give up.
Sydney's next generation delivered more cause for optimism on Saturday night, defeating North Melbourne at their Hobart fortress by five points in a performance that Longmire hailed as one of the club's best wins in recent memory.
Already missing Lance Franklin (hamstring) at Blundstone Arena, Sydney scratched Kennedy (quad) and lost Zak Jones to a hamstring injury before halftime, and were without young star Isaac Heeney for much of the second half.
But the Swans flipped the script, surging in front and then withstanding a belated Kangaroos comeback to run out 11.11 (77) to 10.12 (72) winners.
With key members of his side absent, Longmire fielded a side containing 11 players with less than 50 games' experience.
But when the key moments were there to be won, it was the Swans - not the more experienced Kangaroos - who stood up.
While it was just their third win from nine rounds, a visibly proud Longmire suggested it was the type of victory that could shape a team's future.
"The season's important but it's just the fact that ... you lose some of your senior players that we had out of the team - a lot of experience - and you're able to still turn up and play like that and scrap until the end and get some reward for it," the Swans coach said said.
"We still didn't get everything right but jeez, the young boys had a real crack. And those blokes that have played a bit of footy led from the front.
"We're really confident in that younger group, and they were able to withstand a really hot game at a ground where the opposition had a lot of 100-game players and have a good record."
Longmire also lauded co-captain Dane Rampe, who responded to a week of fierce scrutiny for his bizarre goalpost climbing and umpire sledging antics by holding North spearhead Ben Brown to one goal in a dominant match-up.
"I was never in any doubt about how he'd play," he said.
"He's been playing like that all year. He's been sensational for us."
Longmire was unsure when Kennedy would be available to return, while Jones was likely to miss several games with his hamstring injury.
Heeney underwent a concussion test early in the final term but passed and should be available to face Collingwood next Friday night at the SCG.