Isaac Heeney celebrates a goal for Sydney against Hawthorn in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY has shaken its recent poor record on the MCG, thumping Hawthorn by 76 points on Sunday evening.

Under the setting sun, the Swans enjoyed a six-goal opening quarter before surging toward the 18.10 (118) to 5.12 (42) victory as the artificial lights took over on a day where Lance Franklin, a legend of both clubs, said a final farewell to the MCG.

HAWKS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

Isaac Heeney starred for Sydney once again, kicking three goals from his 21 disposals and impacting right across the ground, while Logan McDonald was impressive inside 50 with three goals of his own.

An arm wrestle over the opening 10 minutes was devastatingly broken by the Swans with seven unanswered goals either side of the first break.


The visitors were also able to stretch the Hawthorn defence, goalling via 12 different players, including each of their first seven goals coming from individual goalkickers.

Sydney was far cleaner with the footy, often requiring just one take to gather ground balls and regularly enjoying multiple handball outlets when put under the pump. This extended to the connection between midfield and forward line, with the Swans piercing the attacking 50 by foot and giving forwards genuine opportunities to score.


In his first game of the year after a foot injury, reining Hawthorn best and fairest winner Will Day (11 disposals, four clearances) added some class to the home side, spurring a strong patch from his side late in the third term.

Despite the score line, there were moments of brilliance from the Hawks as they moved the ball through the corridor with short, pinpoint kicks. Moving closer to goal, however, is where they struggled to make it count, with key forward Mitch Lewis a late out and sorely missed.


Mabior Chol (10 disposals, one goal) was well covered by Tom McCartin (nine intercepts, three contested marks), and without Lewis it was left to Dylan Moore, Jack Ginnivan, and Jack Gunston to serve as Hawthorn's other marking targets.
Working hard in his role on the wing, acting Sydney captain Errol Gulden (25 disposals, 12 marks, one goal) offered defensive coverage, sliding into a goalkeeper role for extra security, while also adding his neat kicking when repelling back out.

The Swans now look ahead to a blockbuster derby against third-placed Greater Western Sydney on Saturday, with star veterans Luke Parker and Dame Rampe set to return from injury.

Just how they fit into this star-studded and in-form side, and who drops out of the 23, remains to be seen.


Instant punishment
Late in the first quarter as Hawthorn was working to win back momentum, Blake Hardwick was lining up for a set shot from the 50m arc. Despite a beautiful kick splitting the tall posts, Hardwick was robbed of the goal as Mabior Chol felled Tom McCartin in a scuffle deeper inside Hawthorn's attacking 50. Not only was the score overturned, the Swans then transitioned the ball quickly to the other end of the ground to hand Joel Amartey his only goal of the day, and maximise the punishment on Hawthorn for the ill-discipline.

Mabior Chol flies for a mark in the match between Hawthorn and Sydney in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Running in waves
When given latitude to do so, Sydney's running game out of the back half is champagne footy. Lining up essentially across the full width of the ground, players have multiple outlets when faced with pressure from the opposition. While Nick Blakey and Jake Lloyd have made that type of running game their brand, Ollie Florent (28 disposals, 697 metres gained, one goal) has taken that aspect of his game to a new level this year. Offering some serious physical strength and an ability to hit the scoreboard from outside 50, he is flourishing on the half back line.

Oliver Florent during Sydney's game against Hawthorn in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell would have studied Sydney's vulnerabilities coming into the game, and acknowledged that under immense pressure the visitors do struggle to maintain their attacking style of play. For much of the first term the Hawks did well to bring that pressure, repeatedly smothering the typically elite-kicking Swans. Unfortunately for Mitchell, however, was his Hawks' inability to capitalise on those impressive defensive actions, instead allowing Sydney to recover from those poor disposals and pile on the scores, that proved costly.


HAWTHORN     2.2    3.6    4.9   5.12 (42)
SYDNEY           6.3    10.6    15.8   18.10 (118)

Hawthorn: Hardwick, Moore, Meek, Chol, Newcombe,
Sydney: McDonald 3, Heeney 3, Hayward 2, Wicks 2, Gulden, Florent, Amartey, Papley, Adams, Warner, Jordon, McLean

Hawthorn: Worpel, Moore, Mackenzie, Day
Sydney: McCartin, Heeney, Warner, McDonald, Rowbottom, Blakey, Gulden

Hawthorn: Nil
Sydney: Nil

Hawthorn: Max Ramsden (replaced Jai Serong at half time)
Sydney: Braeden Campbell (replaced Justin McInerney in the final term)

Hawthorn: Max Ramsden replaced Mitch Lewis (knee soreness) in the selected side
Sydney: Nil

Crowd: 38,052 at the MCG