Shellharbour’s James Bell showed his immense AFL potential, just as the Sydney Swans confront a looming injury crisis.
The Swans overpowered arch-rivals GWS 10.15 (75) to 4.5 (29) in the second-tier North East AFL clash at North Dalton Park on Saturday.
Bell kicked two goals, including a dagger from outside 50 metres early in the final term to effectively end any hope of a Giants comeback.
The rookie listed 19-year-old finished with 13 disposals, his best yet in a NEAFL game.
But his shining moment came after AFL premiership-winning Swans forward Sam Reid suffered a setback in his return from injury.
Reid felt soreness in his Achilles and came off just five minutes into the game, having not played in the AFL since round three in April.
“He was a bit sore and we didn’t want to risk it as he is coming back from a major surgery,” Swans NEAFL coach Tadgh Kennelly told neafl.com.au afterwards.
“We decided not to push it with a player of his quality.”
The concern over Reid’s fitness follows injuries to star players Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack and Dan Hannebery during Thursday night’s loss to Geelong.
Jack suffered a medial ligament knee injury, while McVeigh broke his collarbone and Hannebery a calf strain, leaving huge holes to fill for the Swans.
Defender Lewis Melican also missed the NEAFL game on Saturday with a hamstring problem.
With Reid benched at Dalton Park, the Swans interchange was further restricted after Jordan Foote made an early exit with concussion.
However, Figtree juniors Kyle Veerhuis and Sam made valuable contributions in the 46-point demolition of the Giants.
Veerhuis had 11 disposals, one mark and two tackles, while 16-year-old Thorne, in his NEAFL debut finished with 10 disposals, four marks and five tackles.
In high winds, the Swans kicked 1.8 in the second term, before blowing the game open in the third quarter. They restricted GWS to 1.1 in the second half, the victory moving the Swans ahead of Canberra into second on the NEAFL ladder, as they brace for the player drain from an under-manned AFL squad.
SYDNEY SWANS 10.15 (75) d GWS 4.5 (29)
Goals: (Swans) J Bell 2, T Pink 2, C O’Riordan, M Rogers, J Brown, D Cameron, B Stewart; (Giants) T Banuelos 3, L Keeffe; Best: (Swans) C O’Riordan, H Marsh, N Newman, A Johnson, D Cameron, J Dawson; (Giants) M Buntine, J Stein, J Peatlin, T Mohr, T Banuelos, A Kennedy.
AFL SOUTH COAST WOMEN’S
WOLLONGONG LIONS 4.6 (30) d WOLLONGONG SAINTS 0.0 (0).