Sydney Derby XV lived up to the hype and was nothing short of a fantastic match between two finals-bound teams.
The Giants dominated the first half with Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio, Tim Tarranto and Callan Ward well on top of their opponents, while Luke Parker was the best for Sydney.
After bursting out to a 21-point lead early in the third quarter, the Giants looked almost out of reach. Mounting injuries took their toll and the Swans worked their way back into the contest, running out 20-point winners.
1: Sydney veterans guide young team to victory
With the game on the line, former captains Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack lead the way for the Swans. Jack’s ability to find the ball and escape tackles, allowed the Swans to break into space, while McVeigh continued to hit targets by foot and occasionally outrun his opponent, notably Dylan Shiel.
Luke Parker was outstanding in the midfield and would have been best on ground had it not been for Lance Franklin exploding in the second half, booting four goals, while Josh Kennedy transformed himself at half-time.
2: Injuries take their toll
Earlier in the season it was the Swans who were crippled by injuries. Last week, they grimly held on for a crucial 9-point away win against the Demons, regaining important midfielder Dan Hannebery, having lost defenders Alex Johnson and Nick Smith before quarter time.
For the third week in a row, the Giants were hit by in-game injuries, this time to almost all of their defenders. Phil Davis played through a corked back, Ryan Griffen left the ground with a hamstring strain, Jeremy Cameron injured his ankle pre-game, Jeremy Finlayson injured his ankle during the game and Daniel Lloyd required attention for a nasty cut to his face.
3: Lance Franklin is still the best
Despite being down and hardly training throughout the season, an enthralling and engrossing battle with Phil Davis was shaping as pivotal contest in the context of the match. Davis had Franklin’s number early in the game, but as soon as he went off injured, Franklin dominated.
Opposed to Jeremy Finlayson, Phil Davis, Adam Tomlinson and Nick Haynes at times throughout the match, Franklin booted four goals in the second half, moving past Leigh Matthews on the all-time goal kicking list to 8th, 9 behind Bomber great Matthew Lloyd, and trails Jack Riewoldt by two goals in the Coleman medal race.
4: Isaac Heeney the defender
After showing incredible poise against Collingwood, taking a game-saving mark on the goal line, and his unbelievable performance against Melbourne, receiving the 10 AFLCA coaches’ votes, Heeney was superb in defence once again.
While he wasn’t as prominent as recent weeks, his tackling and defensive efforts were the best of both teams, finishing with a game-high 10 tackles, 10 contested possessions, 3 clearances and 27 pressure acts. His spoil on Tomlinson on a long lead late in the last quarter was superb and ensured the Giants couldn’t mount a comeback with three minutes remaining.
5: Swans are finals bound
With their 20-point win against the Giants, the Swans are guaranteed to play in the 2018 AFL Finals series, with their final match of the season against Hawthorn, playing for the double chance. Since 2003, the Swans have played in 14 of 15 finals series, with 2018 making it their 15th from 16.
Incredibly, since 2000, the Swans have played 36 finals – the most of any club – and have won 19 finals, equal with Hawthorn. Written off just three weeks ago after losing against Essendon – their fourth loss from five games, wins against top 4 teams Collingwood, Melbourne and the GWS Giants have propelled them not only into contention, but an unlikely double-chance position.
6: Callum Sinclair’s beak saves the day
With the game on the line and the Swans just 2-points in front with under 12 minutes left to play, Callum Sinclair saved the day with an unbelievable goal-line falcon. Tim Tarranto drove it deep to the goal square, after a 50m penalty put him within range. A goal line scramble ensued, with Sinclair using his face to save a certain goal. The Swans took full advantage of their fortune, locking the ball inside their forward 50, with Kieren Jack finally kicking the match-winning goal.
Sinclair was superb for the Swans in the final quarter, finishing with 18 disposals – 8 contested, 2 goal assists, 3 score involvements, 4 marks, 9 one-percenters and 34 hit-outs.
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