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Swans win a thriller

Marc McGowan  April 14, 2018 7:45 PM

Florent's sealer - Rd 4, 2018 Sydney's Oliver Florent runs past Bulldog Tim English to kick a great running goal
Isaac Heeney and Lance Franklin celebrate a goal against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.

Isaac Heeney and Lance Franklin celebrate a goal against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.

Lance Franklin was the difference again in a Sydney victory, on a night he moved clear of Peter McKenna into outright ninth place on the all-time goalkicking list.

The Swans' incomparable spearhead was goalless in the opening half for the second straight week, but came up big when it counted – booting the go-ahead major in the last term – to help deliver an important triumph.

The thrilling 13.8 (86) to 11.13 (79) win over the Western Bulldogs moved John Longmire's side to 3-1 for the season and made it 13 wins from 14 games at Etihad Stadium.

The Dogs will be kicking themselves after boasting a 22-point lead early in the second quarter and having 18 more inside 50s at the final siren to slip to their third defeat in four rounds.

Josh Dunkley, the son of former Sydney defender Andrew, blew a chance to tie the scores with three minutes on the clock when he bobbled an uncontested mark on the edge of the square.

A Luke Dahlhaus major brought the Dogs within a point shortly after, but young Swan Oliver Florent sealed the match after leaving Tim English in his wake.

The mid-week news that Sam Reid would miss the next two months with a serious hamstring injury only heightened Sydney's reliance on Franklin to kick a winning score.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge's pre-match talk of sending first-year defender Aaron Naughton to Franklin never eventuated and the job instead went to skipper Easton Wood.

Wood wore Franklin like a glove for much of the opening half, but the forward showed signs of breaking the shackles before the main break and began making his mark in the third term.

The 31-year-old speared the Swans ahead with his opening major – and 875th overall, to go ahead of McKenna – almost eight minutes into the second half.

Franklin finished with three from seven scoring shots to be the dominant player on the ground, with fellow forwards Will Hayward and Aliir Aliir failing to fire.

Luke Parker (21 disposals, 10 tackles) also kicked three goals for Sydney – all in the first half – while Dane Rampe (23) was stout in defence from the get-go.

The Bulldogs' possession-maintaining machine – one of the keys to their demolition of Essendon a week earlier – was on song early.

Ruckman English (16, 24 hit-outs) was prolific in the quick start and helped his side to an advantage in the centre clearances, which enabled his small men to spread at will.

In-form midfielder Jack Macrae (34, seven clearances), Mitch Wallis (23), the sweet-kicking Matt Suckling (28) and Bailey Dale (18) were all prominent in driving the Dogs into attack.

Once inside 50, they defied their status as the AFL's most wayward outfit in front of goal to produce a series of wonderful finishes.

Tory Dickson's remarkable boundary-hugging checkside goal from deep in the pocket was the pick of them, but Marcus Bontempelli's effort wasn't far behind.

The Bont spoiled Josh Kennedy, hunted down the ball and nailed a superb left-foot snap from 40m to give the Bulldogs a game-high 22-point lead inside five minutes of the second term.

The problem was it took until the 20-minute mark a quarter later for their next goal to come, a period the Franklin-inspired Swans piled on six majors to surge ahead.

The Bulldogs only had themselves to blame with a series of costly turnovers aiding the Sydney comeback.

But back-to-back Wallis and Bontempelli majors in a minute put the contest on an even keel entering the final term.

Top 10 VFL/AFL career goalkickers

PLAYER

CLUB

GOALS

 Tony Lockett

 StK/Syd

 1360

 Gordon Coventry

 Coll

 1299

 Jason Dunstall

 Haw

 1254

 Doug Wade

 Geel/NM

 1057

 Gary Ablett

 Haw/Geel

 1030

 Jack Titus

 Rich

 970

 Matthew Lloyd

 Ess

 926

 Leigh Matthews

 Haw

 915

 Lance Franklin

 Haw/Syd

 877*

 Peter McKenna

 (Coll/Carl)

 874


WESTERN BULLDOGS
                        5.3       7 7.      9.10.   13.8 (86)                  
SYDNEY                                             4.0       6.3       10.4     11.13 (79)          

GOALS
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 2, Bontempelli 2, Redpath, Gowers, Jong, Dale, Wallis, Daniel, Dahlhaus
Sydney: Franklin 3, Parker 3, Papley 2, Heeney 2, Cunningham, Towers, Florent 

BEST 
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Suckling, Dunkley, Bontempelli, Dahlhaus
Sydney: Franklin, Rampe, Parker, Heeney, McVeigh, Hannebery, Papley

INJURIES 
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Sydney: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Deboy, Gavine

Official crowd: 32,870 at Etihad Stadium