The Sydney Swans roared to life in the final quarter in their blockbuster clash against the Geelong Cats, kicking 7-goals-to-1, to run out 17-point winners at the GMHBA Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In doing so, the Swans become the first side since West Coast in round 10, 2006, to beat Geelong at their home fortress after trailing at half-time.
More impressively, the Cats have won 18 of their last 21 matches at their home ground, with Sydney the only team to beat them – winning their last three encounters, and four since round 22, 2011.
Led brilliantly in the final quarter by captain Josh Kennedy, the Swans turned around a contested possession and clearance deficit to record their fourth win of the season.
Kennedy was criticised for his performances over the last fortnight, including 13 disposals against the Adelaide Crows in round 5.
He silenced his critics, with 13 of his 33 disposals and six of his 13 clearances in the last quarter, proving a catalyst for the Swans comeback.
The problem was that none of the Cats star trio, Joel Selwood (23), Patrick Dangerfield (22) or Mitch Duncan (24), who combined for 14 clearances, could do anything to stop the Swans once their roll started.
Sydney ultimately won the territory and clearances game in the final quarter, 16-to-5, to trigger the Cats downfall.
The little height the Swans had, proved more than enough, as good as forced to go small, with Gary Rohan their tallest forward at just 189cm.
The mosquito fleet controlled the first quarter, kicking four goals to two, with debutant Ben Ronke hitting the scoreboard.
Callum Sinclair was immense for the visitors, collecting a game-high nine disposals and 13 hit-outs at the first break, paving the way for the small forward line to turn up the pressure.
The Swans had the first inside fifties of the second quarter, but a string of contentious free kicks was paid against the Swans in their goal square, by Matt Stevic.
Isaac Heeney would feel robbed, perfectly maneuvering Mark Blicav’s out of the way in one of the contests, only to see a free paid against him.
Geelong’s tall timber gradually began to improve, with Tom Hawkins, despite failing to convert his chances, Esva Ratugolea and Rhys Stanley rising to the occasion.
The Cats capitalized on their good fortune, with first-year Cat Tim Kelly exploding into action (19 possessions), helping his side turn a fifteen-point deficit into a twelve-point half-time lead.
The Swans looked like going scoreless in a quarter for the first time this season until Luke Parker had a chance directly in front with minutes left, kicking into the man on the mark.
The Cats kicked the first goal of the third quarter, but nothing was free flowing or easy going, the Swans made them work for everything.
Goals to Parsons’s and Hawkins either side of a Heeney goal extended their lead to 22-points at three quarter time, leaving the Swans hanging on the ropes.
Josh Kennedy stepped into the furnace and produced an all-time masterclass, singlehandedly destroying the Cats midfield.
Great ruck work by Sinclair (39 hit-outs, 18 disposals) put it repeatedly down the throat of his on-ball brigade, and they won the majority of the clearances for the quarter (16-5).
Instead of bombing it long and deep, they hit up leads and moved the ball expertly into their forward 50, taking several uncontested marks.
Selwood and Dangerfield were gang tackled just about every time they touched the ball, the ferocity of the Swans players palpable, forcing the Cats to turn the ball over.
Fox kicked off the last quarter rout with a spectacular high-flying mark, before a 7-point play with Zak Jones converting a shot on the run, put the Swans within striking distance.
A Cats reply gave them some respite, but three goals in five minutes put the Swans ahead, with Hayward, Fox and debutant Ronke kicking his second goal of the match.
Florent and Hayward finished the goal scoring for the visitors, while Papley’s snap on the final siren hit the post.
The Swans face the resurgent North Melbourne Kangaroos at the SCG, who’ve shot up the ladder this season, but suffered a 33-point loss at home to Port Adelaide in round 6. The Swans may regain Lance Franklin, Dean Towers and Dan Hannebery during the week.
SYDNEY 4.6 4.7 5.10 12.14 (86)
GEELONG 2.3 6.7 9.8 10.9 (69)
Isaac Heeney received treatment to his lower back during the third quarter, after a marking contest with Tom Hawkins.
Hayward 3, Fox 2, Florent 2, Ronke 2, Parker, Jones, Rohan
Kennedy, Sinclair, Heeney, McVeigh, Mills, Lloyd, Jones
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