LANCE Franklin has helped lift Sydney to a stunning come-from-behind 26-point win over Greater Western Sydney in a fixture where eight players were unavailable due to coronavirus protocols.
The Swans trailed by 35 early in the second quarter but came to life leading into half-time in the derby at Gold Coast's Metricon Stadium on Sunday night.
GIANTS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats
After a quiet first half, Franklin finished with four goals, which included his 400th for the Swans, in the 15.8 (98) to 11.6 (72) victory.
He played a leading hand in the turnaround and capitalised as the Sydney midfield began to find its groove.
The Swans put together a run of nine goals, including six unanswered in the third term, to ultimately quash the Giants' hopes of jumping into the top eight.
Callum Mills, Harry Cunningham and Colin O'Riordan (Sydney) and Toby Greene and Matt de Boer (GWS) were forced to pull out less than an hour before the first bounce after the Victorian Government upgraded their COVID-19 exposure sites.
Unselected Giants Kieren Briggs and Jake Stein and Sydney ruckman Callum Sinclair are also isolating.
The group were among 15 players and staff from both clubs who attended the Wallabies' match in Melbourne on Tuesday and were in an area of AAMI Park that was reclassified as Tier 2 exposure.
They are all in quarantine under Queensland health department requirements until further notice.
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The Giants’ woes were further compounded with injuries to Josh Kelly (ankle) and ruckman Matt Flynn, who left the field on two occasions after appearing to dislocate his shoulder twice.
Sydney has now notched three wins in a row and is sixth on the ladder, while GWS sits in 12th position, two points outside the top eight.
Tom Papley also finished with four majors for the Swans, while teammate Luke Parker was atop the match possession count with 31.
Remarkably, Sydney kicked 12 of the last 14 goals.
The Giants came flying out of the blocks against a sluggish opposition, kicking six first-quarter goals to open up a 37-8 lead at the end of the opening term.
They stretched the lead to 50-16 midway through the second quarter before the Swans scored three straight to reduce the margin to 56-40 at the main break.
Harry Himmelberg had a strong game for GWS with three goals.
The 21st Sydney derby was originally scheduled for Giants Stadium and was then moved to Ballarat before being shifted to the Sunshine State.
Paps puts on a show and pleases himself
Tom Papley seemed inspired by the Euro 2020 football tournament early in the match, as he kicked two first-half goals with deft kicks off the ground, but he reminded us in the last term that he has also mastered the oval-shaped Sherrin. When Lance Franklin gave the ball a subtle tap out of a marking contest, Papley timed his run perfectly to gather it off hands while running toward the boundary, then dropped the ball onto his right boot to dribble it across his body and through for a goal. The clever small forward looked as impressed as anyone as he turned to celebrate with his teammates.
The Giants were set for a stunning start
Greater Western Sydney entered the match as one the lower-ranked teams for marks inside 50, averaging only 9.1 a game, but it outdid that in the first half, claiming 10 marks inside their forward arc. Forward 50 marking was a key part of the Giants’ stunning start to the match, as they kicked eight goals from those grabs. The reliable set-shot kicking from Harry Himmelberg, Jesse Hogan and Daniel Lloyd helped GWS kick all of its first 10 goals over a man on the mark, a streak that continued until Himmelberg snapped a goal in play late in the game.
Franklin fires up the Swans after slow start
The Giants are one of the many clubs that Lance Franklin has tormented throughout his career and he has the most goals (36) and the equal most Brett Kirk medals (three) in Sydney derbies. Franklin earned his third of those best-on-ground medals with five goals when the clubs met in round five this year, despite the Swans giving up a late lead to lose by two points. Giants full-back Sam Taylor looked to have turned the tables this time when he held Franklin to only two kicks and no score in the first half, but the modern-day great burst into life after half-time, kicking three goals in the third term to spark the Swans to overrun the Giants.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 6.1 9.2 9.5 11.6 (72)
SYDNEY 1.2 6.4 12.6 15.8 (98)
Greater Western Sydney: Himmelberg 3, Hogan 2, Lloyd 2, Bruhn, Kennedy, Perryman, Finlayson
Sydney: Papley 4, Franklin 4, McInerney 2, Wicks 2, Parker, Hickey, Hayward,
Greater Western Sydney: Taranto, Hopper, Perryman, Kelly, Coniglio, Himmelberg
Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Papley, Hewett, Franklin, McInerney, Hickey
Greater Western Sydney: Kelly (right ankle), Flynn (dislocated shoulder)
Greater Western Sydney: Greene (isolating) replaced in selected side by Bruhn, de Boer (isolating) replaced in selected side by Sproule
Sydney: Mills (isolating) replaced in selected side by Rowbottom, Cunningham (isolating) replaced in selected side by Stephens, O'Riordan (isolating) replaced in selected side by Ronke
Greater Western Sydney: Sproule (replaced Kelly)
Sydney: Ronke (unused)
Crowd: TBC at Metricon Stadium