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Isaac Heeney back in form for Sydney Swans

Middle of the action: Isaac Heeney. Photo: Mark NolanSydney youngster Isaac Heeney is looming as a major finals weapon for the Swans after emerging from an alarming form slump in emphatic fashion.
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The second-year star felt the pinch mid-season but a month out from September action has rediscovered the form that made him such a vital player early in the opening rounds.

Heeney was among the best afield in the Swans’ crushing win on the weekend, impressing with his appetite for the contest and bite around goals.

His 25 possessions and two goals on the weekend followed a four-goal haul against Fremantle, continuing a form reversal which started in the second half of the match against Carlton.

“He was full of energy today and he’s a massive competitor,” Swans coach John Longmire said.

“He was leading up, hitting the ball hard and he was back to his best, it’s a great sign for us.

“Early in the year he was playing pretty well, he was launching at the ball like he was today, and that’s his strength.

“He’s so composed when the ball hits the deck too, he’s able to launch at it and still be first at the crumb, which is a unique skill to have. He was certainly doing that today and competing at ground level pretty well.”

A fit and firing Heeney is a crucial component to the Swans forward line, which has been criticised for being too reliant on Lance Franklin.

His return to form, along with the emergence of Gary Rohan, has now given the Swans alternative avenues to goal. They will be bolstered even further in round 22 when Kurt Tippett is expected to make his comeback from hamstring surgery.

The Swans’ victory over Port was built on another gritty showing from Dan Hannebery and his elite midfield colleagues, who notched 45 clearances, 69 inside 50s and dominated the contested-possession count.

And while statistics never tell the full story, on this occasion the numbers were converted into scoreboard dominance. As they have been all season.

But Hannebery has no interest in declaring Sydney’s midfield the standout in this year’s competition.

“I don’t think so, you can pick apart everyone’s midfield,” Hannebery said after his 50th consecutive game on Saturday. “You look at all the teams in that top eight, their midfields on their day are as good as anyone’s.

“You look at Geelong’s midfield, GWS. You could pick any one of those teams. At the end of the day you’ve got to make sure no matter who you’re playing you’re a chance if your effort’s really strong.

“We prepared really well [for Port], we weren’t expecting at all to win by that much, we knew it was going to be a contest.

“It’s a really pleasing result, it would’ve been nice to capitalise a bit more in the last quarter but you take that win every day of the week.”

Hannebery finished with 36 touches against Port, following the 41 he grabbed a week prior in Perth. Josh Kennedy amassed 45 that day against Fremantle and helped himself to 30 more on the weekend.

Both players average more than 30 touches per game this season, and sit in the AFL’s top five for that particular measurement, while Luke Parker and Tom Mitchell have also racked up big numbers in recent weeks.

Impressively, the recent maulings of Fremantle and Port Adelaide have come with Tippett and Callum Sinclair, the club’s top two ruckmen, sidelined through injury.

Sydney’s attention now turns to a pair of away games, St Kilda on Saturday night before a trip to Hobart next weekend to play North Melbourne.

The Swans will closely monitor the fitness of Harry Cunningham and Rohan this week. Cunningham picked up a minor knee injury while Rohan is nursing a corked hip.

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