In what was a clear contender for match of the season thus far, Melbourne and Sydney threw everything at each-other throughout a pulsating two hours of action - but it was the visitors who came to the premiers’ once impenetrable fortress and got the job done.
The Swans stood up when it mattered throughout a ‘finals like’ contest which ultimately came down to moments, kicking four goals to the Dees’ one in the last quarter to come away with a 12-point win and make an almighty statement at the mid-way point of the campaign.
After Max Gawn kicked the first-goal of the last quarter to give Melbourne a 13-point advantage, Sydney piled on the majors, with Errol Gulden’s bomb with under five minutes to go giving the visitors the lead before Tom Papley’s snap sealed the 10.13 (73) to 9.7.(61) win.
Even without the suspended Lance Franklin, Sydney found an avenue to goal, as the likes of Sam Reid and Logan McDonald stamped their authority up forward booting three goals apiece, while Callum Mills led the charge in the middle with 26 disposals, seven marks and nine tackles.
Melbourne, on the other hand, is human after all, falling to back-to-back defeats for the first-time since round 16, 2020 and its 11th loss in 14 games against the Swans.
However, when the Dees kicked six of the first seven and raced out to a 26-point lead in the first minute of the second term, it seemed as if the reigning premiers would cruise to victory and ensure last weekend’s loss was nothing more than a minor hiccup.
The Swans had other plans, upping the ante around the contest (27-16 second-quarter tackles) and turning their first-quarter wastefulness around enough to give themselves a two-point lead at half-time off the back of a five goal to two second quarter.
While the first-half resembled a frenetic, end-to-end basketball-like contest, the second-half was well and truly an arm-wrestle.
Simon Goodwin’s charges, however, could’ve easily gained the ascendancy had they not come down with their own case of the yips in-front of goal during a third-term where they kicked the only goal of the quarter but added another five behinds.
In the end, the misses in the third-term came back to bite them as Sydney stormed to the finish line, improving their record to 8-4 while jumping into sixth spot heading into the bye.
The Demons, 10-2, will be hoping to arrest their slide next-week, as they gear up for a blockbuster Queen's Birthday clash against Collingwood next Monday.
After losing Lance Franklin to suspension, veteran Sam Reid was required to stand up as the Swans' key forward and he did so with intent, kicking three first-half goals and providing a target for his teammates and a headache for opposition defenders.
Buddy-less Swans attack
There’s no one quite like Lance Franklin in the AFL and there’s not many, if any at all, who can replicate his impact when he takes the field.And when Buddy is absent, like he was on Saturday evening due to suspension, Sydney on most occasions feels the pinch. However, it was ‘the replacements’ who not only filled the chasm but won the day against Melbourne’s Steven May-less defence. With the Swans down by as much as 26 points early in the second-quarter, veteran forward Sam Reid and youngster Logan McDonald took over, forging a sensational one-two punch after quarter-time to will Sydney back into the game with a combined five first-half goals.
MELBOURNE 5.1 7.1 8.6 9.7 (61)
SYDNEY 1.5 6.9 6.11 10.13 (73)
Melbourne: Fritsch 3, Gawn 3, Jordon, Langdon, Jackson
Sydney: Reid 3, McDonald 3, Papley 2, Heeney, Gulden
Melbourne: Gawn, Fritsch, Viney, Jordan, Oliver, Salem
Sydney: Reid, Mills, McDonald, Parker, Papley, Heeney
Melbourne: Petty (shin, shoulder
Sydney: O’Riordan (head knock)
Melbourne: Tom McDonald (ankle soreness) replaced by Mitch Brown
Melbourne: Toby Bedford
Sydney: Ben Ronke, replaced Colin O’Riordan in the first quarter