Sydney Swans players celebrate a goal against the Crows at the Adelaide Oval.
Sydney Swans players celebrate a goal against the Crows at the Adelaide Oval. DAVID MARIUZ

Buddy brilliance helps Swans win epic over Crows


You deserve one after witnessing arguably the best and most intense game of the home and away season.

But also spare a thought for Daniel Talia, who'll need an oxygen mask after an epic yet unsuccessful chase on Lance Franklin, as well as the umpires, who'll need a security escort to their vehicles as they leave the Adelaide Oval.

The Swans' remarkable 2017 turnaround took another stunning turn on Friday night, knocking over ladder-leader Adelaide by three points, 13.5.83 to 11.14.80, at the Adelaide Oval in a home and away colossal classic.

Franklin was at his brilliant, game-changing best throughout the whole night, finishing with 16 disposals, six inside-50s and 3.1. One of those goals left the footy world gobsmacked - and Cale Hooker very happy - after Franklin rekindled memories of his famous run down the MCC Members wing against Essendon, with Talia the man that had to give chase this time.

Sydney's 13th win in 15 games means it's now within striking distance of the top four. A Richmond loss to Fremantle on Sunday would put the Swans in the top four at the end of the round.

But at one stage late in the game, it looked as if the Crows were going to register the win as they held a nine-point lead with just under six minutes to go. Then a touchy umpire call in red time led to an important Swans goal.

Young Swan Callum Mills juggled an intercept mark on his defensive 50. He then appeared to play on by taking a few steps, which prompted Crows veteran Eddie Betts to start laying a tackle to win a holding the ball free kick.

But the umpire thought otherwise and paid a 50m penalty against Betts - much to the bemusement of Betts, Crows fans at the ground and Fox Footy commentators.

Seconds later, the Swans managed to move the ball down field to Sam Reid, who converted a crucial set-shot to get the Swans back into the game. Minutes later, Tom Papley produced a classy, composed finish to give the Swans the lead - a buffer they wouldn't surrender for the rest of the match.

But premiership coach Paul Roos said Betts - and the Crows - were very stiff.

"You just hope the umpires don't try and justify it because too often we see the umpires department come out and say 'oh well, he tackled him a little bit before'," Roos told Fox Footy.

"Mills has clearly played on. Clearly. Mills knows it's a free kick (for holding the ball).


Lance Franklin of the Swans celebrates after kicking a goal against the Crows.
Lance Franklin of the Swans celebrates after kicking a goal against the Crows. DAVID MARIUZ

"It's a really, really poor decision, the umpires need to come out and clarify that and say 'we got that wrong' - they're allowed to make mistakes."

Fox Footy colleague Mark Maclure agreed it was a bad call, but said it wasn't the sole reason the Crows lost the match.

"There was an umpire five metres away, who didn't call anything. That didn't change the game," Maclure said.

"(The Swans) were 50 possessions down on the night and still won, 21 inside-50s down on the night, still won the night. Adelaide have got themselves to blame."

That the Crows managed to hit the lead at all in the first place was an achievement in itself, as this ultimate classic clash looked as if it was heading for a blowout early on.

During the first term and a half, the Crows simply couldn't handle the finals-like intensity from the Swans, consistently fumbling and uncharacteristically missing targets by foot.

"The pressure that Sydney are putting on, they're just making the Crows rush and then at times when they have got time, they're panicked," North legend Wayne Carey told Channel Seven.

Franklin led the charge with a couple of telling goals, out-marking Alex Keath in the air then slipping the Crows rookie on the ground.

"That's probably the worst match-up of the year, with all due respect to the young fella," Roos said of the Franklin-Keath match-up.

"Maybe they thought Buddy was going to play up the ground."

Goals to Zak Jones and Josh Kennedy extended Sydney's margin to 29 points early in the second term.

But as Maclure pointed out, "if you're a good side, at some stage you're going to hit back". And that's what the Crows did, booting five unanswered goals to will themselves back into the contest.


Tom Papley of the Swans reacts after scoring a goal.
Tom Papley of the Swans reacts after scoring a goal. DAVID MARIUZ

Don Pyke's men began to win the ball around the contest again, with Matt Crouch, Brad Crouch and, in particular, Rory Sloane helping their side even up the contested ball count.

Sloane was inspirational for the Crows, booting a big goal to go with 29 touches, 20 contested possessions, 14 tackles and nine clearances.

"He's an inspirational on-field leader," hawks great Jason Dunstall told Fox Footy.

"He doesn't have a huge body, he's solid enough ... but he has no fear and he just attacks it like every contest is his last."

The out-of-contract Mitch McGovern had another influential game with four goals to prove why his signature at the end of the year is so vital.

But, like they have done all year, the Swans fought back early in the fourth term, with skipper Josh Kennedy leading the way. In his first game back from a hamstring injury, the star on-baller booted one goal from 31 touches, 18 contested possessions, five clearances and seven inside-50s.

"He's arguably the best player over the last eight years from a consistency point of view," Roos said.

"He's one of the few that hasn't fumbled, everyone else on the ground has fumbled. But he's had a couple of weeks out and he looks fresh."

On Friday night, the immovable object beat the unstoppable force.

But you get the feeling Adelaide will have a chance for revenge next month.

News Corp Australia

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