The Sydney Swans and Geelong Cats have played out a 54-all draw at the SCG on Friday night, in the first shared points between the sides in the competition's history.
Both sides squandered easy opportunities throughout a misfiring match between last year's grand finalists, with Sydney's 6.18 (54) to the Cats' 7.12 (54) scoreline hurting both sides finals chances.
Sydney started the game in high gear, attacking with purpose and speed through the corridor and neatly hitting up targets inside 50. Unfortunately for the home side, the ability to make it count on the scoreboard was absent, kicking one major from nine shots on goal in the opening term.
The Swans continued to play quick, attacking footy and making life tough for Geelong's defenders as they looked to rebound but remained frustratingly inaccurate, leaving the door wide open for the reigning premiers.
On the reverse, when the Cats were able to break through Sydney's high defensive wall, they were often rewarded with acres of space and time inside 50 to make the most of their rare opportunities in attack.
Gryan Miers (26 disposals, six inside 50s) showed off his exquisite kicking inside 50, picking off targets few others would attempt, let alone execute, and Tanner Bruhn (18 disposals, three clearances) quietly generated attacking opportunities all night for Geelong.
The experience of Geelong turned the game on its head in the second half. They clamped down, tightened up on direct opponents and refused the Swans the uncontested ball or corridor movement they enjoyed early in the game. As a result, the visitors maintained forward possession for much of the second half and put real pressure on Sydney's defence.
After the Swans moved the ball inside 50 with ease early, they couldn't buy an entry for much of the second half because of the Cats' re-organised defence.
Tom Atkins was immense in the Cats' resurgence, moving into the midfield largely to quell Luke Parker's influence and finishing the game with 17 disposals, 11 tackles and five clearances.
Errol Gulden's work rate was once again on show, impressively covering the ground to gather 26 disposals, six inside 50s and laying nine tackles, while his partner in crime Braeden Campbell started strong to finish with 14 disposals and two goals.
SYDNEY 1.6 4.12 5.15 6.18 (54)
GEELONG 3.3 4.4 6.8 7.12 (54)
Sydney: McDonald 2, Campbell 2, Papley, Parker,
Geelong: O. Henry 2, Hawkins 2, Stengle, Blicavs, Miers
Sydney: Parker, Gulden, Campbell, McInerney, Sheldrick, Blakey
Geelong: Miers, Tuohy, Blicavs, Dangerfield, Atkins, Stewart
Sydney: Ryan Clarke (unused)
Geelong: Jack Bowes (replaced Esava Ratugolea in the final quarter)