SYDNEY has clambered off the bottom of the AFL ladder in dramatic fashion at the SCG, pipping Essendon by five points when David Myers’ after-the-siren shot at goal fell short.
Co-captains Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker both led from the front in the middle, while Nick Blakey and a stack of young teammates also stood up as the Swans held on 11.11 (77) to 10.12 (72).
A snapped goal from Darcy Parish reduced the hosts’ lead to five points with three and a half minutes remaining in the low-scoring thriller.
A brilliant tackle from Blakey in the final minute, rewarded with a holding-the-ball free kick, seemingly snapped Sydney’s five-game losing streak at the venue but the young gun turned the ball over.
The Bombers rushed the Sherrin forward to Myers, who held his mark a second before the final siren sounded but was unable to snatch victory with a kick from beyond the 50m arc.
Orazio Fantasia, his surname being pronounced correctly by commentators for the first time in a career that started five years ago, booted four goals.
But the visitors were guilty of sloppy delivery into their forward line and wasteful goal-kicking in the upset, which extended the Bombers’ horrible recent record against Sydney to nine losses from the past 10 meetings.
Desperate to make a statement on the bright lights of Friday night after a woeful 1-6 start to the season, the fired-up Swans weathered multiple comebacks in front of 26,502 fans.
A 12-point lead, held by the Bombers when Tom Bellchambers kicked the second goal of the night, proved the biggest margin of the topsy-turvy game.
Momentum shifted frequently and tempers often boiled over – including that of Swans defender Dane Rampe, who was stunned by a second-quarter umpiring decision that gifted a goal to opponent Jake Stringer.
“I can’t hear that … you talk like a little girl,” Rampe quipped, having been told to play on after the whistle-blower deemed he stepped off the mark.
Swans coach John Longmire has all but admitted his side are in the midst of a rebuild, having fielded the most inexperienced side of his tenure.
Longmire, peppered with questions about the prospect of Sydney missing finals for the first time since 2009, has also repeatedly made the point that the kids are alright.
Blakey, Jordan Dawson, Robbie Fox – boasting a combined 31 games of experience – were all among the Swans’ best.
When the Bombers reduced the margin to just a single point after a dominant start to the final quarter, 19-year-old Tom McCartin floated in front of a pack, clutched a mark and converted calmly to steady for Sydney.
© AAP 2019
SYDNEY 2.6 6.8 9.9 11.11 (77)
ESSENDON 2.3 7.3 8.6 10.12 (72)
Goals: Sydney: J Dawson 2 C O’Riordan I Heeney N Blakey O Florent R Fox S Reid T McCartin T Papley W Hayward. Essendon: O Fantasia 4 D Parish 2 C McKenna J Stringer T Bellchambers Z Merrett.