THE SYDNEY Swans have overcome a final-quarter deficit and the loss of gun midfielder Luke Parker to injury to keep their teetering top-two hopes alive, grinding out an 11-point win over Collingwood at the SCG on Friday night.
The Swans used a three-goal burst after losing Parker to a likely season-ending right ankle injury in the final quarter to take control, running out 13.9 (87) to 10.16 (76) winners.
With the victory, the Swans temporarily jumped back inside the top four at the expense of the Western Bulldogs.
Tom Mitchell had a career-high 41 possessions (26 handballs) for the winners, who improved their record to 13-6 and won for just the second time in their past five matches.
The defeat almost certainly ends Collingwood's finals aspirations, and the loss was the seventh in its past eight games. The Pies held a lead of just over a goal several times in the second half, but could never land the knockout blow as they fell to 9-10 for the season.
It was yet another heartbreaking defeat for the Pies following narrow losses to Hawthorn, Richmond, Fremantle and Port Adelaide.
Dane Swan was at his prolific best for the Pies with 38 possessions, while Steele Sidebottom (32 possessions) and Jordan de Goey (11 tackles) were prominent.
The returning Travis Cloke grabbed four first-quarter marks, but ended the night with just 1.1.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said the loss was another example of the Pies not taking their chances in front of goal.
“Goal kicking is part of the game, and it’s something that’s cost us on a couple of occasions," he said.
“It probably cost us the Hawthorn game, and it’s probably cost us this game. We kicked 3.5 from 15-30 metres out from set shots, and it’s bad footy."
The match was the first at the SCG between the teams since round four in 2000, with the previous 13 clashes played at ANZ Stadium, Collingwood winning 10 of them.
The Swans came into the match without spearhead Lance Franklin (back), and as well as Parker going down, held firm despite Isaac Heeney struggling with an apparent hip injury after falling hard in a fourth-quarter marking contest, and Dane Rampe on and off the bench in the final term.
Parker immediately clutched at his right leg after a heavy tackle by Taylor Adams in the centre of the SCG, and the ashen-faced midfielder was taken from the ground on a stretcher.
Earlier, the Pies dictated terms in the third quarter, doubling their half-time score and taking a five-point lead at the last change.
Gary Rohan kept Sydney in the game with two booming set-shot goals from outside 50 metres, and veteran Adam Goodes added his second of the night.
They were among four players to kick two goals for Sydney, with no-one managing more than one major for the visitors.
Swans coach John Longmire was pleased with the ability of his side to fight back after Collingwood dominated the third quarter.
“It looked as though they were well on top of us, so it was a good sign to be able to fight back from that," he said.
“They were clearly on top, and we were a little bit fortunate they didn’t kick those opportunities that they had in the third term.”
The Swans coach felt his side had periods where they handballed far too much.
“We should have taken the opportunity to go forward a bit more by foot, and that put pressure on us and forced us to over handball," he said.
The Swans took a five-point lead into half time, with Collingwood managing to turn the tables after a lacklustre start.
The Swans booted the opening three goals and clearly looked the better side in the first term, keeping Collingwood without an inside 50 for over 13 minutes. But the Pies rallied late, Jamie Elliott's classy finish on the run from the boundary line helping his side reduce its deficit to seven points at quarter-time.
Nathan Brown was reported for the Pies early in the second term for a crude challenge on Parker in a marking contest, but his side continued to make the running, De Goey slotting a great finish on his left foot to bring the visitors back within a point.
The Swans continued to set up much of their attack off half-back with Rhyce Shaw the spark, but Collingwood's increasing pressure caused Sydney to over-use the handball the longer the quarter went, negating their slingshot approach.
The second term turned into a slog more akin to a wet-weather contest, Goodes' set shot 13 minutes into the quarter the final goal of the first half as Collingwood couldn't quite get its nose in front.
Tom Mitchell and Dane Swan had a ton of possessions for their sides at the SCG. Picture: AFL Media
SYDNEY SWANS 3.4 5.6 8.9 13.9 (87)
COLLINGWOOD 2.3 4.7 8.14 10.16 (76)
Sydney Swans: Rohan 2, Goodes 2, Reid 2, B. Jack 2, Kennedy, McVeigh, Mitchell, Jetta, Pyke
Collingwood: Elliott, Varcoe, de Goey, Cloke, Reid, Moore, Williams, Swan, Pendlebury, Crisp
Sydney Swans: Mitchell, Kennedy, K. Jack, B. Jack, Cunningham, Rohan
Collingwood: Swan, Elliott, Pendlebury, Williams, Frost, Sidebottom
Sydney Swans: Laidler (hamstring), Parker (right ankle), Heeney (hip)
Sydney Swans: Jeremy Laidler replaced by Jake Lloyd at half time
Collingwood: Ben Reid replaced by Levi Greenwood in the final quarter
Reports: Nathan Brown (Collingwood) for rough conduct against Luke Parker (Sydney Swans) in the second quarter.
Umpires: Margetts, Findlay, Ryan
Official crowd: 38,408 at the SCG