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Match report: Swans trounce Cats to storm into Grand Final

Highlights: Geelong v Sydney Swans The Cats and Swans clash in the 2nd preliminary final
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Dan Hannebery (left) and Tom Papley of the Swans celebrate during the 2016 AFL Second Preliminary Final match between the Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 23, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Dan Hannebery and Tom Papley celebrate on Friday night

THE SYDNEY Swans have stormed through to their third Grand Final in five years with a fearsome 37-point win over a shell-shocked Geelong at the MCG on Friday night.

In a pressure-football master-class that defied what has been a bruising September, the Swans dismissed their opponents in a brutal first half and were never seriously challenged, winning 15.7 (97) to 8.12 (60).      

The win keeps the prospect of an historic all-Sydney Grand Final alive, with Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs to face off on Saturday for the right to meet the red-hot Swans.

• Five things we learned from the preliminary final

Defender Aliir Aliir will face a race against time to play in the premiership decider after suffering a right knee injury late in the first quarter and being put on ice for the rest of the match after a fitness test. 

Midfielder Luke Parker also suffered a left knee injury in the second quarter, but played on and was influential in what was an emphatic statement from the minor premiers in front of 71,772 fans.

Coming off a six-day break and nursing sore players after physical finals against GWS and Adelaide, the Swans had much to overcome against a Geelong team that had played once in 27 days.

• Every Swan rated: Rohan completes remarkable finals comeback

But the Cats' unique preparation, as a result of the pre-finals bye, might have been the bigger hurdle, with Chris Scott's men slow out of the blocks and unable to regroup.     

They couldn't handle the Swans' revered midfield pressure, with the aggression and commitment of John Longmire's men creating turnover after turnover.

 

"It was enormous, our pressure at the ball and the man with the ball, and the way we attacked the contest was really ferocious in that first period of the game," Longmire said after the game.

"We were really able to build our game on that … it was just fantastic."

Midfielders Dan Hannebery (29 possessions), Josh Kennedy (25) and Tom Mitchell (27) were immense, while captain Kieren Jack was a battering ram with 13 tackles.

It was young Swan Isaac Heeney, however, who shone brighter than them all in a brilliant 28-possession performance that further cemented him as a star of the future.

Superstar forward Lance Franklin finished with two goals and will head to his second Grand Final with the Swans, while first-year Swan Tom Papley kicked a game-high three goals.

• The moment: Buddy blasts off and the Cats go cold

The Swans' defenders were rock solid, with the returning Zac Jones and mainstay Dane Rampe combining for 28 rebound 50s and 48 disposals.  

Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield battled all night to finish with 39 possessions, nine clearances and nine inside 50s, but the Swans limited his effectiveness and burst with the ball. 

Captain Joel Selwood was equally brave with 39 possessions (including a finals record 23 contested) and 10 clearances, and the pair was largely responsible for their team finishing with an incredible 72-40 advantage in inside 50s.

But the Cats' midfield depth quickly dropped away and their ball-use was second-rate, with too many players not rising to the occasion. 

"They jumped us and, no matter what we tried early, we couldn't stop that," Scott said.  

"Then they were just extraordinarily efficient, relative to us. Their work around the contest was first rate.

"They were clean with the ball and we weren't. That was in part because of us and in part because of the pressure they put on." 

• Match centre: full coverage, stats and highlights

The Swans were bold at selection, picking ruckman Kurt Tippett after a week sidelined with a fractured jaw, and speedster Gary Rohan six days after suffering bone bruising.

Their faith was rewarded immediately, with Tippett kicking two goals in the Swans' opening burst and Rohan influential early with his attack on the ball.

Franklin was the star early, pushing up the ground on Tom Lonergan to win nine first-quarter possessions and setting up Tippett's second goal with his brute strength in a one-on-one contest.

 

Tippett's goal gave the Swans' a 32-point lead, with the rattled Cats yet to factor on the scoreboard.

Their first score was a rushed behind 16 minutes into the quarter and, after missed set shots from Selwood and Tom Hawkins, they entered the first break on 0.5 and trailing by 39 points.

Geelong's first goal came four minutes into the second term when Hawkins converted a set shot, but it was momentary relief with the Swans unrelenting in their pressure.

• Hard calls wait for champion Cats after crushing exit 

There was no margin for error when the Cats had the ball, with missed handballs and kicks being punished as Xavier Richards and Tom Papley added to the pain.

When Franklin converted a 50m set shot on the boundary, the Swans were out by 55 points and destined for the Grand Final.

 


GEELONG             0.5     2.8    7.10   8.12 (60)
SYDNEY SWANS   7.2   11.3   14.4   15.7 (97)

GOALS
Geelong: Taylor 2, Hawkins, Bartel, Selwood, Caddy, Dangerfield, Stanley
Sydney Swans: Papley 3, Parker 2, Tippett 2, Franklin 2, Rohan 2, McGlynn, Heeney, Richards, Naismith 

BEST
Geelong: Dangerfield, Selwood, Bartel, Taylor, Duncan
Sydney Swans: Heeney, Mitchell, Rampe, Hannebery, Franklin, Grundy, Papley 

INJURIES
Geelong: Taylor (hand)
Sydney Swans: Aliir (knee)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Stevic, Jeffery

Official crowd: 71,772 at the MCG