LANCE Franklin's nine-goal haul helped offset an early injury to Brownlow Medal fancy Josh Kennedy in the Sydney Swans' 71-point victory over St Kilda at the SCG on Saturday.
Kennedy, who was playing his AFL-leading 127th consecutive game, was substituted out at quarter-time with a left hamstring injury.
His diagnosis could have major ramifications for the Swans, who have reclaimed top spot on the ladder – for the next 24 hours at least – courtesy of a routine 19.13 (127) to 8.8 (56) win.
Swans coach John Longmire said Kennedy had complained of hamstring tightness in the first quarter and was unsure about the star midfielder's prospects until he gets scans in the coming days.
"He just had some hamstring tightness," Longmire said.
"He didn't feel it go, but it felt tight at the back end of the first quarter.
"He went out at the start of the second and tried to get it going and was still a bit tight in his hamstring, so we subbed him off.
"If Josh Kennedy has a tight hamstring, he's coming off."
Hawthorn can move back into first place with a win over Fremantle on Sunday.
Craig Bird injured his posterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter and was able to continue, although Longmire was also unsure of his chances of playing the Western Bulldogs next week.
They add to Ben McGlynn (calf) and Rhyce Shaw (ankle), who dropped out of the team this week, as injuries start to surface for the flag favourites.
Thankfully, Franklin's exploits lifted the spirits of the 31,361-strong home crowd as he signed off his 200th AFL match in some style, taking control of this year's Coleman Medal race in the process.
He finished with 9.4, equalling the second-best goal haul of his career, achieved on two previous occasions, to take his tally for the season to 61.
Only the 13 he kicked against North Melbourne two years ago bettered Saturday's haul, and he could afford to chuckle as an attempt at his 10th goal in the final minute sailed out on the full.
Luke Parker, Jarrad McVeigh, Jake Lloyd and Shane Biggs – in his first game of the year – all impressed for the Swans, while Kurt Tippett backed Franklin up with three goals of his own.
It was a predictably tough afternoon for the Saints, however, who came into the match in last place on the ladder.
Nick Riewoldt kicked three goals to move to 47 for the season, while Farren Ray and Jack Steven picked up plenty of possessions and Adam Schneider had some good moments against his former side.
But the visitors were never in danger of adding to their four wins for the year.
Riewoldt kicked the game's opening goal in the third minute, but the Saints barely looked like the scoring the rest of the term as the Swans slammed through the next six goals.
Franklin kicked three of them, tormenting helpless opponent Sam Gilbert, to waste little time drawing level with former teammate Jarryd Roughead in the Coleman Medal race.
A 32-point lead at the first change was quickly stretched further when Franklin and Lloyd kicked the first two goals of the second term.
The crowd took some delight when Schneider galloped towards goal and slammed the ball into the post from about three metres out as St Kilda struggled mightily to add to the scoreboard.
James Gwilt finally broke a streak of eight straight Swans goals with a set shot for the Saints' second of the match as the visitors trailed by 40 points at half-time.
Most of the interest from that point was in Franklin's final haul, as he fell just short of bringing up double figures for the second time in his career.
Afterwards, Saints coach Alan Richardson said the Swans were at the top of their game, while his side had an "incredibly disappointing" first term.
"We were out of our depth," Richardson said. "There's a gap between the two teams.
"We played some reasonably competitive footy after quarter time, (but) we still didn't have the polish or the finish of the Swans and we weren't able to capitalise."
Lewis Roberts-Thomson says a fond farewell to the SCG crowd on Saturday. Picture: AFL Media
SYDNEY SWANS 6.3 8.8 15.9 19.13 (127)
ST KILDA 1.1 2.4 5.7 8.8 (56)
Sydney Swans: Franklin 9, Tippett 3, Cunningham, Malceski, Jetta, Lloyd, McVeigh, Towers, Parker
St Kilda: Riewoldt 3, Stanley 2, Gwilt, Armitage, Steven
Sydney Swans: Franklin, Parker, Jack, Hannebery, Biggs, Rohan, Grundy, Towers
St Kilda: Steven, Ray, Schneider, Armitage, Riewoldt
Sydney Swans: Kennedy (hamstring), Bird (knee)
St Kilda: Nil
Sydney Swans: Dean Towers replaced Josh Kennedy in the second quarter
St Kilda: Cameron Shenton replaced James Gwilt at three-quarter time
Umpires: Farmer, Burgess, BannisterOfficial crowd: 31,361 at SCG