AFL CROWS SWANS
Coach John Longmire says attitude had been everything in Sydney's tenacious three-point triumph over Adelaide in their AFL season-opener.
While Swan livewire Isaac Heeney provided the polish with a game-breaking four-goal haul, Longmire reckoned the victory was based on pure grunt.
"We came across with a really good attitude," Longmire said after Sydney's 11.8 (74) to 11.5 (71) win on Saturday at Adelaide Oval.
"Our effort was really good. And in the end, it we were able to hang on because of that."
Adelaide marked captain Rory Sloane's 200th AFL game, and the club's first under new coach Matthew Nicks, with six goals to three in the first quarter.
But Sydney, with Heeney and midfielder Luke Parker (game-high 29 disposals) the standouts, capitalised on a remarkable centre-clearance dominance.
The Swans recorded 20 centre clearances to five - a statistic which Crows coach Nicks said defined the result.
"That is a huge number," Nicks said of the discrepancy.
"And what it does is put you on the back foot straight away.
"We went away from what we do well, at times, as players. There is stuff that we have got to look at as coaches where we have got to get better as well.
"The most-important part of getting lessons like that is you have got to learn from it."
Despite getting walloped at the clearances, Adelaide almost stole victory.
The Crows were 15 points down, and seemingly out, with four minutes remaining in the last term.
But quick goals to Tom Lynch and Chayce Jones set up a last-gasp chance for Taylor Walker to win the game.
Walker had a set shot from 55m with 20 seconds to go but missed and Sydney hung on for a precious win.
"It's an important win," coach Longmire said.
"It's an important win for our players, for their families, for our supporters ... some are doing it pretty tough.
"We talked about that. We wanted to give great effort for a number of reasons."
While Heeney was brilliant, onballer Parker formed a commanding midfield with Josh Kennedy (25 touches) and Oliver Florent (20 possessions), while Will Hayward booted two goals.
Adelaide's backmen Rory Laird (19 disposals), Daniel Talia and Wayne Milera were solid and forwards Walker and Lynch kicked two goals apiece.
Crows playmaker Brodie Smith suffered bruising to his chest but the club was hopeful he would recover to play next Saturday against Port Adelaide.