Stingy Swans still maintain their rage

It’s a case of new faces, same result for Sydney’s back line, which has retained its Scrooge-like traits despite being rocked by a plethora of injuries this season.

Stability might be regarded as a cornerstone for a successful defensive unit but the Swans remain one of the hardest teams to score against – even with three of their premiership-winning back six unavailable for chunks of the year.

Injuries to Alex Johnson, Rhyce Shaw and Marty Mattner mean there is more than 450 games’ experience sitting in the stands. That’s not including the 10 years’ experience of Lewis Roberts-Thomson, who had been earmarked for more time in defence following Johnson’s injury.

Although Fremantle have taken the crown off Sydney for lowest scores conceded after 10 rounds, the Swans are still incredibly miserly.

They might be a mediocre 13th for the number of entries inside their defensive 50 but the Swans rank first for the lowest proportion of scores and goals conceded from those incursions.

Adelaide, Sydney’s opponent this week, ranks second and third respectively, according to Champion Data. The numbers are not only an endorsement for the Swans’ style of play but also their quality and depth of talent in defence.

Among the new faces to have stood the test so far are Dane Rampe and Andrejs Everitt, while co-captain Jarrad McVeigh has also had stints in the back half.

Backman Nick Smith, who has not missed a game this season, said while it was exciting to have fresh blood there was no substitution for familiarity. ‘‘It’s definitely a different look to last year but in saying that hopefully we can be as good and as solid together,’’ Smith said.

‘‘It’s so crucial everyone is working together, there’s plenty of voice and it lets us sort our match-ups. Even when the ball’s coming in we know what each other are doing.

‘‘[Last year] we became really tight and comfortable playing with each other. We knew each other’s strengths.  It doesn’t happen overnight that everything just functions 100 per cent right. The more footy we play together the more that will start to happen.’’

The Swans’ defence will meet a new-look Adelaide forward line that has made a better-than-expected transition to life without key talls Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett, who controversially defected to Sydney. Unheralded names such as Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch and Sam Kerridge have helped fill the breach in recent weeks.

Heath Grundy admitted he knew ‘‘not much about any of them’’ though could recall playing on Lynch in a game against St Kilda.  ‘‘When a few new faces roll in you’ve got to treat them carefully,’’ he said. ‘‘If they’re playing senior footy they’re capable and pretty handy.’’

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