Match report: Sensational Swans swat away hapless Bombers

The Swans put to bed any lingering doubts of their premiership credentials with a finals record-breaking performance.

Despite Essendon holding numerical supremacy in patches throughout the game, replays more than numbers, will give a far better idea of how absolute the Swans' domination was.

The first half was nothing short of a demolition, with the Swans kicking 10 unanswered goals either side quarter time, and 10 in the second quarter, blowing the Bombers away and opening up a 10-goal lead at half-time.

Of the 633 AFL/VFL finals played before Saturday afternoons match, Sydney's second quarter of 10.3 was the highest scoring second term of them all.

So complete was the domination of the first half, the Swans half-time score of 83 was their highest ever recorded in a final, their final score 121 was their most scored in a final at the SCG, and their winning margin their biggest at the SCG in a final.

After a competitive opening quarter, injured super star Buddy Franklin turned the match on its head, kicking three goals in the blink of an eye.

The Bombers had no answer and before they knew it, they were five goals down inside the first five minutes of the second quarter.

The Swans were relentless, rampant and unstoppable, the Bombers pressure all but gone and their tackles well down from the first quarter.

Another three goals in three minutes midway through the quarter - 7 in 17 brutal minutes - put the match well beyond the reach of the Bombers, trailing by almost 10 goals after they'd kicked the first of the match.

Rohan Connolly put it succinctly;

Seldom in memory has a final gone from competitive to an absolute rout in so short a period.

They couldn't have picked a better day to smash records either, with the SCG hosting its best-ever AFL crowd - 46,323 fans.

Their was no noise of affirmation at this ground, no roaring parochial crowd, just a team that on its day played their trademark game, while another - albeit backed by tremendous traveling support - simply wilted under the pressure.

Essendon had the best start they could hope for, dominating the opening clinches and piling on the pressure, leading the tackles early and Joe Daniher tacking a spectacular pack mark.

The Swans took their time to work into the match, with Dean Towers kicking his first of three in a sensational match, but when they did, Essendon were simply spectators.

Sydney had the bigger harder bodies, more assured disposal, superior marking strength, none more evident than Callum Sinclair who dominated Michael Hurley, and better work ethic that told the tale on the scoreboard.

The second-half was distinctly different from the first, with the sting all but gone from the match and Essendon playing for pride.

While they dominated the play and numbers for large parts of the third and fourth quarters, they still lost the third quarter with Sydney kicking 4-straight goals, and narrowly won the last with Franklin and Rampe sitting out most of it.

There are finals moments that define a player and club, some more heroic than others, and certainly some more important, but few more spectacular or match turning than Lance's 2nd quarter.

Franklin's 3 goals in 5 minutes, 4 for the quarter on a badly corked thigh can certainly be added to that exclusive list, joining the likes of Nick Davis (SF-2005), Leo Barry (GF-2005) and Adam Goodes (GF-2012) as an all-time great Sydney Swans AFL/VFL performance, let alone moments.


The Swans surprised many when they picked their ruck duo for the match, opting to go with returning big man Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair at full forward.

Lewis Melican was a late withdrawal before the game with quad tightness and was replaced in the side by Harry Cunningham.

The game

The Bombers started the game in the best way possible, with one of their first inside 50s landing in the hands of Joe Daniher, taking a spectacular towering mark over Heath Grundy.

He had no problem converting and the Bombers dominated the first five minutes, on top in possessions and tackles.

It took some time for the Swans to work their way into the game, but when they did, it was almost one-way traffic, Franklin kicking the first behind of the game with a shot on the run, his only blemish.

Dean Towers laid a huge tackle in the forward pocket in front of the roaring crowd and earned himself a free kick, snapping truly to put the Swans ahead.

The Bombers hung tough for the next 10 minutes, leading the tackling count by almost 10 at one stage as the Swans continued to lock the ball in their first half.

Both side traded behinds, Essendon twice squandering chances to take back the lead, before Lance Franklin limped off with a corked thigh.

Callum Sinclair marked superbly on the lead and slotted the goal to put the Swans two goals ahead.

Kieren Jack capitalised on superb pressure by the Swans, snapping truly and extending the lead, then Joe Daniher had a running shot on goal almost 60m out.

Lance Franklin spent the first break on the bike and it appeared to have an impact, kicking the first goal of the second quarter with the Swans first inside 50.

In the blink of an eye he had two more goals, the first a sensational snap after great forward 50 pressure and the second another mark on the lead.

The was as good as over, the Swans leading by 29 points inside the first six minutes of the second quarter, the Bombers struggling to get their hands on the ball, let alone tackle anyone.

Franklin was at his dominating best, kicking three goals from three disposals, taking two marks, one contested and laying a tackle, arguably more impact than the entire Essendon team.

Gary Rohan copped a knock to the knee in a marking contest, but shortly after was seen doing run-throughs on the boundary, while Heeney pushed a set-shot wide.

Callum Sinclair made no mistake in front of goals, kicking his second of the match and giving Michael Hurley a bath.

Sinclair missed another opportunity just 90 seconds later, but Heeney made amends for an earlier miss, kicking truly, before Jake Lloyd and captain Kennedy extended the lead, kicking all three goals in three minutes.

The Swans incredible work rate had blown away the Bombers, kicking 7.2-to-naught, intercepting virtually every Bomber forward foray leading 11-3 in intercept marks, 5-0 for the quarter, Mills with 3 for the match.

The Bombers finally had their first of the quarter through Josh Begley, breaking a run of 10 unanswered Swans goals, reducing the margin to 49 points.

Luke Parker missed a shot on the run, but Lance Franklin made no mistake, again kicking from another lead and mark, his fourth for the quarter, putting the Swans back out beyond 9 goals.

Myers did well with the instant reply, and Colyer missing another chance before the Swans answered back with two of their own.

Towers kicked truly with another snap in the pocket, his 2nd for the match, while Kennedy put through his second of the quarter, the Swans' 10th for the quarter, their 13th for the first-half.

In front of a record-breaking AFL crowd at the SCG, the Swans set another record, not only their highest-ever half-time finals score, but the highest ever second quarter score in 634 AFL/VFL finals, 10.3 (63).

The sting was all but gone from the game, with John Longmire praising the Swans' powerful finals football after the match.

"We really lifted a gear or two," he said.

"It was based on some really strong defence and then we were able to be really efficient going forward, took marks in attacking 50 and hit the scoreboard during that period.

"It's finals footy and as we've seen across this weekend, you've got to be strong at the opposition and strong at the contest.

"I thought in all three phases of the game we were pretty strong."

The Bombers started the third quarter strongly, desperately fighting their way back into the match, with Daniher kicking the first goal inside a minute, followed up by behinds to Daniher, Fantasia and Colyer.

Gary Rohan made the Bombers pay for their inaccuracy in front of goals, while Franklin turned provider for Callum Sinclair, who had no trouble converting.

The Swans had kicked 12.1 from set shots, leading the marks inside 50 14-4.

Isaac Heeney followed up 40 seconds later with his own goal, and the Bombers were trailing by more than 60 points.

Rohan's second goal of the quarter punctuated a superb team-effort, with Josh Kennedy leading with a match-high seven score involvements.

Joe Daniher kicked his third goal of the match on the siren, dragging the margin back to 69 points, little consolation for the disappointing Bombers.

The match was well and truly done, the Swans' cue in the rack shortly after half-time and a decision was made, a "negotiation" Longmire would later describe, on Lance Franklin's participation in the last quarter.

"He kicked goals and played quite well after that (knock), he was limping when he was stationary but when he was moving he was ok," Longmire said.

"We had a negotiation at three-quarter time and we came up with an agreement to start him on the bench.

"About five minutes in he iced up, but if we (had) needed him he would have been able to keep playing."

The last quarter was all about staying injury free for the semi-final against Geelong, with Sydney and Essendon going through the motions.

Fantasia kicked his only goal of the match while eyeing off their lowest inside 50 count for the season, while Papley and Towers went bang-bang in a minute midway through the quarter, the second goal an absurd passage of play straight from the centre bounce.

Dennis Bergkamp would be proud of that control Tom.

Dyson Heppell and Josh Begley dragged the margin back to 65 points on a brutal day for the Bombers, with the last two goals of the match, while the Swans dominated marks and intercept possessions.

The victory sets up a 2016 finals replay between the Cats and Swans, with the Swans routing the Cats in the first half, kicking 7-to-0 goals in the first quarter on their way to their 2nd grand final in 3 years.

Medical room

Lewis Melican was a late withdrawal from the match with quad tightness and will have to prove his fitness on Wednesday and Thursday to be available for selection for the semi-final on Friday night at the MCG.

Gary Rohan left the field midway through the second quarter with a medial ligament scare after his knee buckled in a marking contest on the wing.

He returned to the field and played out the match and will be available for the semi-final.

Lance Franklin left the field early in the first quarter with a heavily corked thigh after a marking contest with Brendon Goddard.

He continued to receive treatment throughout the match before sitting out the last quarter, with coach John Longmire confirming that he'll play in the semi-final.

Next up

The Swans will lock horns once again with Geelong at the MCG, their nemesis over the last 3 years, winning five from six matches by an average margin of 54.8 (32.8 without the 110 point win).

An 11-goal-to-2 first half in last years' preliminary final propelled the Swans into another grand final, while consecutive wins at Kardinia Park have given the Swans a significant mental advantage.

Sydney will go into the match virtually injury free, while the Cats will be licking their wounds with Cam Guthrie out for the finals along with Jake Kolodjashnij, Joel Selwood struggling with his ankle, James Parsons receiving significant treatment and Dangerfield possibly tweaking a medial.

The Cats will have to produce the metaphorical "miracle" to progress to the preliminary finals, or hope the Swans bus gets lost of the way to the ground, with the Swans already holding significant market favouritism over the Cats.

Sydney Swans
Essendon Bombers

Goals: Franklin 4, Towers 3, Sinclair 3, Kennedy 2, Rohan 2, Heeney 2, Papley, Jack, Lloyd

Best: Kennedy, Sinclair, Towers, Lloyd, Grundy, Mills, Hewett, Parker, Jones

Official crowd: 46,323 at the SCG

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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

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