Buddy's Brilliance in epic struggle sinks the Eagles on their own patch

Sometimes you just have to stand up and applaud the brilliance of the player, whether you love him or not. Sunday night was another example of just how unplayable he is at his fierce best. Six months was well worth the wait, and whatever the admission was, it was worth it.

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Another massive bag of 8 by the superstar was more than enough to sink the Eagles in their brand new shiny stadium. Five at half time, almost five different opponents - including Schofield - had the Eagles on the scramble. It wasn't until the third quarter when he beat McGovern cold in a one-on-one contest, and snapped truly from 35m on his right peg, that the Eagles started triple teaming him.

One of the best passages of commentary for the game summed up the situation perfectly. Former Lions champion forward Jonathon Brown compared Franklin leaving the ground, to Michael Jordan or LeBron James having a breather on the bench. "It's the Eagles time" he said, "they've got to hit the scoreboard while he's off," to the laughs of the commentary team. I can't imagine being an Eagles supporter at that point.

When the Swans brought him into the club in 2014, there wasn't a great deal of love, and it turned into a bit of a sideshow when Hannebery wrecked his sponsored car before he played his first game. The papers in Melbourne and Sydney had a field day, "Buddy at his best in another city". Even I was fed up before it all started.

A month into his first season with the Swans, heads started turning, and hearts followed soon after in Round 13. His second-half demolition job on the Power - kicking 5 goals - sealed victory for the Swans, including a tremendous 70 metre bomb at a crucial point in the fourth quarter.

Nothing quite beats Anthony Hudson's commentary (one of his many Swans gems), "he might try for a 70 metre goal, and he really would be worth all the money they're paying him... Give him a longer contract!" It's hard to believe four years on and the same is being said, give him a longer contract.

I don't even know how many times Jason Dunstall or Dermott Brereton have said "you can't do that" about Franklin over the years at the Swans, but it's worth it every single time, especially when he does it against Hawthorn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wscOJOZdbc

We've come to expect the unexpected from Franklin, immense physical pressure and an undying desire to win. In an age of football when it's so difficult for forwards to kick more than four goals in a game, Franklin has managed 4 or more in 3 of his last 4 games, including a Coleman-winning haul of 10 against Carlton.

While his scoreboard influence can never be understated, it's his ability to chase, tackle and pressure opponents that's made him the elite footballer he is. He was great at Hawthorn, but he was a great goal kicker. He flaunted the rules, occasionally fell foul of the MRP and his play was reckless at times, if not selfish, but it won Hawthorn two flags.

His time with the Swans has been anything but reckless or selfish. He tackles as fierce as any in the competition, and let's face it, he's about the last person you want tackling you to the ground. Longmire was effusive in his praise after the game and deservedly so. He won contests he had no right to win, halved contests when he was outmanned, and applied so much pressure his opponents had no idea what to do.

As much as Sunday nights' win against West Coast was about Buddy Franklin, especially so given the paucity of forward options, it couldn't have happened without an immense team effort. Callum Sinclair acquitted himself in the ruck and was tremendous on the ground, very well supported by Towers, while Kennedy, Parker and Heeney controlled the midfield.

Despite the Eagles dominating forward pressure and territory in the third quarter, it took Nic Nat at his imperious best, and a handful of disgraceful umpiring decisions to bring them close. They had the momentum, no one could argue, but when you've got Mills taking pack marks, Grundy and Melican controlling their opponents, and Smith basically playing without an opponent, the Swans looked settled.

Even with two goals in a minute, the Swans hung tough in the last, kicking the first two, including Franklins' eighth of the night. Parker was spectacular in the last quarter and while Kennedy immense, especially kicking a team lifting goal, we wouldn't have won the game without the vice-captain at his best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcoSVZw72M0

It's going to be a tough one for the umpires no doubt when it comes to votes and I don't envy them. Franklin is the obvious choice and deserves the 3 votes, but Parker was so incredible when the game was on the line, he could pick up all 3. Kennedy should pick up the last vote, but Jake "The Metronome" Lloyd is in with a shout.

Our next game is against one of the premiership favourites, Port Adelaide, who were good enough to get the job done at the SCG last year in Round 1. They'll be without Ryder, ruled out for at least 4 weeks with an achilles injury. It's not going to change their team much, or their tall forward line, and all it will do is force Westhoff and Watts to ruck and Dixon to take the forward line contests.

Whichever way you look at it, this is a tough game, perhaps tougher than the Giants in Round 3. At least the next two are home games, I'd hate to travel to Adelaide for this game, despite our excellent record at the game.

Right then, that's it for today. We're recording this weeks' episode of the SwansCast tomorrow night with columnist and former Sydney Morning Herald journalist Heather Quinlan. If you haven't read her season preview, make sure you do it's well worth the read.

If you've got any questions or comments for us, be sure to let us know. Use the hashtag #SwansCast on Facebook or Twitter and we'll do our best to answer in the show.

We've also set up a Facebook group called "The Swans Blog", so be sure to sign up and join in the conversation! All the latest and greatest news and events will be posted on the group.

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia http://theswansblog.com

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