1. Swans failed to show up for the biggest game of their year
The margin was close at the first change, but the signs were there when GWS won the inside 50 count 18-8. Tom Papley put Sydney in front by a point seven minutes into the second quarter, and with Josh Kelly ruled out of the match, the Giants rattled off the next eight goals until Luke Parker slotted one in the final term. If the visitors had kicked straight and not wasted so many opportunities in front of goal with poor decision-making, it could have been a triple-figure defeat. The Swans had five finals debutants so the future is bright, but that performance will sting.
SWANS COP A GIANT BEATING Full match details and stats
2. Phil Davis deserves more respect
Going into the elimination final superstar Swan Lance Franklin looked the man capable of booting his side past the Giants, but Davis not only beat the champion, he demoralised him. Davis kept Franklin scoreless from six touches in the first half, but it was his dominance in one-on-one duels that kept the five-time Coleman medallist out of the match. With teenager Tom McCartin failing to touch the footy until eight minutes into the third quarter, Franklin was Sydney's only target in attack, and Davis reigned supreme. The GWS co-captain couldn't even make the 40-man All Australian squad this season but played the game of his life against the game's best forward in an outstanding performance. Franklin finished the game on the bench with just eight possessions and no goals.
BUDDY NOT ENOUGH Swans need more ways to score
Lance Franklin was frustrated with his failure to fire against Phil Davis. Picture: AFL Photos
3. The reward was worth the risk for the Giants
GWS coach Leon Cameron took a punt on some returning stars and all four repaid the faith. Toby Greene, Brett Deledio and Matt de Boer hadn't played since round 20, while Zac Williams came in for his first senior game of the year. Williams burst out of the blocks with his usual dash and gathered nine first-term disposals, while Greene kicked a goal and could have had a couple. Deledio's body, clean hands and class with the footy stood out on the slippery deck, and de Boer 's hard edge was what the team has missed. Cameron's refusal to play it safe with his 22 could have gone either way, but he's always backed his players even when most wouldn't, and it earned him a finals win.
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4. Toby Greene doesn't just love the big stage, he thrives on it
The star forward played just seven games during the home-and-away season, but as soon as he was named on Thursday night, he was the man most likely to hurt the Swans. With Nick Smith injured John Longmire had no lockdown defender capable of stopping Greene, and he was too smart and mercurial for Zak Jones. The All Australian's clutch set shot from long range in the third term broke the Swans, and if he'd kicked straight – and used his teammates more often – his impact on the game would have been more decisive.
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5. Sam Reid was sorely missed by the home side
2018 was another horrible waste of a season for the key forward, who managed just one senior game because of hamstring, quad and Achilles injuries. On a night when Franklin was well beaten, the presence of Reid would have not only helped him, but the team. As the youngest player in the League, McCartin has been mighty in his debut season, but he had zero impact in the big final. Reid's body will be a big focus for Sydney over summer.