SYDNEY has survived a late Adelaide fightback to secure a thrilling three-point win over the Crows at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
The Swans held a 20-point lead when best on ground Isaac Heeney booted his fourth goal at the 15-minute mark of the final term before goals to Tom Lynch and Chayce Jones gave the Crows a sniff.
YOUNG SWANS' FLYING START Full match details and stats
Crows forward Taylor Walker then had a long-range shot at goal with less than 20 seconds on the clock to deliver victory in captain Rory Sloane's 200th game and the first for new coach Matthew Nicks, but pulled his shot wide as the Swans hung on, 11.8 (74) to 11.5 (71).
The Crows grabbed the upper hand early with six goals to three in the opening term, before the Swans turned the tide with five of the next six to lead by eight points – 8.3 (51) to 7.1 (43) - at the main break.
Isaac Heeney was a man on a mission for Sydney. He was lethal in attack, kicking a sensational goal from a tight angle in the second quarter before showing strength and smarts to capitalise on a ball millimetres from going over for a behind in the third term. With the Swans missing superstar Lance Franklin, Heeney was the dangerous forward his side needed, finishing with four goals.
SWANS DOMINANTE CENTRE CLEARANCES
The start of every quarter and the restart of play after a goal followed a familiar tune – the Swans pushed the ball forward out of the middle. Luke Parker, Ollie Florent and Josh Kennedy, along with ruck Sam Naismith, were instrumental in the Swans smashing the Crows in the centre clearances. The Crows defenders wouldn't have been pleased with their midfielders putting them under extreme pressure.
MILERA STANDS TALL
Crows utility Wayne Milera has found his home across half-back. Milera won several important one-on-one contests and provided plenty of run and drive out of defence. It's easy to see why the Crows were keen to lock him up on a five-year extension before the start of the season.
NAISMITH MAKES LONG-AWAITED RETURN
Swans ruckman Sam Naismith was impressive in his first game in 912 days after missing the past two seasons after a knee reconstruction. He held his own against Reilly O'Brien around the ground and gave his midfielders good service. Naismith justified the call from coach John Longmire to earn selection ahead of Callum Sinclair.
Playing behind closed doors is a strange experience, but it may also be helping players with their goalkicking. The Crows and Swans kicked 10 straight goals to start the game between them, with Nick Blakey registering the game's first behind early in the second term.
Adelaide: Midfielder Brodie Smith copped a heavy hit to the chest in the second quarter. He didn't play in the third term, but passed a fitness test at three-quarter time and started the last quarter.
Sydney: The Swans appeared to get through the game with a clean bill of health.
Sydney is under the Friday night lights when it hosts Essendon at the SCG, while Adelaide takes on cross-town rivals Port Adelaide in Showdown 48 at Adelaide Oval next Saturday night.
ADELAIDE: 6.0 7.1 9.2 11.5 (71)
SYDNEY: 3.0 8.3 11.4 11.8 (74)
Adelaide: Walker 2, Lynch 2, Fogarty, Stengle, Atkins, Sloane, Murphy, Davis, Jones
Sydney: Heeney 4, Hayward 2, Kennedy, Blakey, Gray, Papley, McCartin
Adelaide: Milera, Laird, Lynch, Sloane
Sydney: Heeney, Parker, Kennedy, Florent, Papley, Rampe
Umpires: Fleer, Harris, Haussen