Promoted as a match that was a most likely Grand Final preview, the Sydney Swans versus Hawthorn contest at the MCG in Round 18 lived up to expectations. A big crowd of 72,000 saw a pulsating game of Aussie Rules Football, with both teams showing they have what it takes to lift the Premiership Cup in September.
Lance “Buddy” Franklin - the ex-Hawthorn gun who went north to Sydney on a reported nine year ten million dollar deal - was being reminded of his defection as many of the Hawk supporters let out a mighty “boo” every time he touched the football. In the first quarter, there was a lot of booing as Franklin started the game in fine form, setting up two goals and marking with authority. At the opposite end of the MCG, 200-gamer Jarryd Roughead was providing a strong target for the Hawks. Roughead had the first goal on the board within a minute of the opening siren, before Franklin replied after a couple of misses. Hawthorn had more scoring chances in an uncompromising first quarter. However their accuracy deserted them as they took a four point lead into quarter time that could have been greater given the balance of play.
In the second quarter Sydney moved the ball with more authority despite the always accurate Luke Breust kicking the first goal of the quarter to extend the Hawthorn lead. Franklin showed his deft skill for a big man in snapping a great opportunist goal to keep things close in a ripping contest. Ben McGlynn, one of the best small men on the ground, goaled for the Swans as their midfield started to get on top of their Hawthorn counterparts. Kurt Tippet plucked a great mark from the back of the pack and goaled at the 23 minute mark to give the Swans a bit of breathing space heading into the long break, but a magnificent individual effort from the Hawks small forward Paul Puopolo had the crowd roaring as he goaled in the shadows of half time. Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis and Josh Gibson were powering the Hawthorn charge in the first half while Craig Bird, Ben McGlynn and Franklin were leading the way for Sydney. At half time, the Swans held a seven point lead.
The third quarter produced arguably the best term of football seen in the AFL all season. Veteran Adam Goodes had the Swans rolling with two goals inside four minutes of the restart – one a curling left foot snap, the other a mark and strong finish from 35 meters out to stretch the Sydney lead to 20 points. Two more rushed behinds extended the lead to 22 points and the way the Swans were controlling the ball the game looked to be theirs for the keeping. Hawthorn was having none of that. At the 14 minute mark, the deadly accurate Breust marked and goaled, a minute later a very quiet Jack Gunston kicked another and the Hawks were all of a sudden flying. Three minutes later, it was Breust again with a magnificent snap then Isaac Smith repeated the dosage. In a deadly seven minute onslaught, Hawthorn regained the lead. Not to be outdone, Franklin goaled for the Swans and McGlynn did the same, as neither team would yield in a great contest. Once again the Hawks reloaded with just minutes remaining in the quarter. Roughead marked and kicked his second goal at the 31 minute mark and repeated the magic with a quick snap from within the goal square. When the siren sounded for three-quarter time, 11 goals had been added – seven to the Hawks – in an enthralling quarter of top level footy. Hawthorn banked a nine point lead heading into the final stanza.
As the final quarter commenced, it was Roughead with his fourth goal within a minute of the first bounce. Puopolo then ran down Dane Rampe with a magnificent tackle, the resultant free kick giving Puopolo his second goal of the game. It looked like Hawthorn had done enough. Once again, Sydney came back. Goals to Josh Kennedy and Goodes had the game once again in the balance, the eight point Hawk lead looking precarious. Enter Shaun Burgoyne who goaled with his usual class to give the Hawks control. Adam Goodes kicked his fourth for the Swans at the 20 minute mark to keep his team alive but the Hawks finished the better, running out ten point winners in a magnificent contest that will have footy fans licking their chops in anticipation of a rematch in September.
Sydney will confront a dangerous Essendon at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Round 19 while the Hawks head off the mainland to Tasmania to take on the improving Western Bulldogs.
Scoreboard Hawthorn 2.7 4.8 11.11 15.14 (104) Sydney 2.3 5.9 9.14 13.16 (94) Best Players Hawthorn: Lewis, Roughead, Smith, Hodge, Mitchell, Birchall, Shiels Sydney Swans: McGlynn, Goodes, Franklin, Rampe, Bird, Jack, Jetta
Article last changed on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 10:27 AM EDT