The Sydney Swans fell agonisingly short against the Kangaroos on a slippery Saturday night at the SCG in Round 7.
The Swans had the chance to win the game, when forward Tom Papley pushed his set shot wide with just over a minute left to play, and Dane Rampe kicked a running shot on the full with 34-seconds on the clock.
A worrying trend has emerged for the Swans, who were once again lackluster and poor in the first half of their home game, just as they were against the Crows two weeks ago.
Having won just one game from their first four at home, they equal their worst home ground starts to a season, recorded in 2000, 2006 and 2011 with one win from four games, while 2017 was one win from five, and 1994 is one win from nine.
North Melbourne, led brilliantly by Mason Wood and Ben Brown, grimly hung on to record an unlikely win at the SCG.
The Swans, still opting to go small against a much taller line-up for the second week in a row, could do nothing as Mason Wood dominated the air, recording career-best numbers; nine marks and four goals.
Ben Brown, held to one goal in one of the more unlikely match-ups against Dane Rampe, found plenty of the ball in North Melbourne’s defensive half of the ground.
A game that appeared as though it was played under immense pressure, had just 108 tackles combined, saw a high number of turnovers recorded, and sloppy disposals from both sides, many sailing over the boundary on the full.
Kieren Jack was chief culprit for the Swans, with five turnovers and 40 percent disposal efficiency in the first three quarters, from 15 disposals.
He wasn’t alone, with Dane Rampe, Harry Cunningham and Jarrad McVeigh gifting goals to the Roos’ when they could least afford them, and Towers turned the ball over with almost every possession.
North Melbourne were clean and clinical with their ball movement early in the game, kicking the first goal through Mason Wood.
Sinclair - who’s in career best form - hit back for the Swans two minutes later, while a superb goal from Towers put the Swans temporarily ahead.
A controversial goal by Billy Hartung, who pushed McVeigh off the ball far too easily before snapping it over his shoulder, was deemed a goal, despite the obvious flick of the fingers as it passed McVeigh’s outstretched hand.
With the Roos’ going on to win by two points, it will prove to be a controversial topic, with the club and league sure to discuss it over the weekend and throughout the week.
Despite the effort, North Melbourne deservedly lead at the first change, Sinclair the best for the Swans by a considerable margin, while Heeney, Parker, Jack and Kennedy struggled to click.
A late goal by Shaun Higgins and an early one by Ben Brown, either side of quarter time, extended their lead 14-points, with the Swans seemingly on the ropes in the torrid affair.
Will Hayward, just about the only Swan who looked capable of kicking straight or taking a mark, responded for the Swans.
Another behind by Kieren Jack, this time from almost directly in front of the goals on the run, brought the groans from the crowd, but forward Robbie Fox brought the house down.
Heath Grundy was having a picnic at full back, with Mason Wood playing far too high and Ben Brown the loose in defence.
Grundy was racking up the possessions and metres gained, recording 265 metres half-way through the second quarter.
Despite dominating possession and territory through the first half of the second quarter, they constantly picked out Ben Brown inside forward fifty, nailing him on the chest twice in a row, as if he was leading for a mark.
Consecutive goals to Simpkin and Wood, either side of half-time, stretched the lead back out to fourteen points.
Will Hayward responded for the Swans with his second of the night, before another shocking miss by Kieren Jack could only chip away at the margin.
Deplorable goal kicking from both teams could do little to change the score, with the conditions affecting both sides.
Kieren Jack, with barely above 40 percent disposal efficiency in the first three quarters, found form at the start of the last quarter, and hit four targets early, helping the Swans boot the first two goals of the quarter.
Leading by just five points, Florent had a chance to put the Swans up by two goals, but could only push his shot wide after weaving through traffic.
The Roos and Swans traded goals, with Jake Lloyd booting a long range bomb to put the Swans back ahead by six points.
Towers missed a crucial snapped goal in traffic late in the quarter, that would have put the Swans 12-points ahead.
The Kangaroos responded, scoring the next four points, before Mason Wood sealed the win with his fourth goal of the game.
The Swans travel to the MCG for the first time this season, to face the resurgent Hawks, who ran over the top of the Bombers in Round 7. Hannebery is a likely inclusion, while Franklin is still touch-and-go. Good performances by Aliir, Newman and Cameron will give the selectors plenty to think about, off the back of several poor efforts from the senior players.
SYDNEY 2.1 4.4 6.8 9.12 (66)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 5.5 7.10 9.14 (68)
Josh Kennedy received treatment for a knock to his knee in the fourth quarter. Callum Sinclair received treatment for a bloodied nose in the fourth quarter.
Hayward 3, Sinclair, Towers, Fox, Parker, Jones, Lloyd
Sinclair, Grundy, Hayward, Kennedy
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