SIX GOALS from Lance Franklin and the emotion of Alex Johnson's return to footy has inspired Sydney to a remarkable two-point win over Collingwood at the SCG on Saturday night.
The Magpies kicked three goals in a row after Franklin booted his sixth 17 seconds into the final term to grab the lead, before a freakish Tom McCartin goal gave the home side victory.
The young forward threw the footy on his boot while lying on the turf and managed to dribble through his club's most important major of the year.
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Sydney's reliable defence was under extreme pressure all night but Johnson, Aliir Aliir, Dane Rampe and Jarrad McVeigh stood firm in the 11.7 (73) to 10.11 (71) victory.
Swans coach John Longmire was well aware of the importance of his side's win and knew how close it came to losing the thriller.
"It's a fine line isn't it this game, with two minutes to go we were behind," he said.
"It just keeps reminding you, if you look at this round of football, I don't know how many games were decided by a kick.
"I'm glad we had our noses in front at the final bell."
The Swans – and their finals chances – looked shot at half-time with Pies ruckman Brodie Grundy a dominant force, and Sydney's forward line in 'Franklin or bust' mode, but they kicked seven goals to three in the second half.
Franklin finished with 6.4 from 17 possessions and nine marks, while Aliir and Rampe shared 52 touches and 23 marks in the back half.
Pies coach Nathan Buckley said Franklin's influence was telling in a such a tight contest.
"He looked like he was moving a bit better than last week," he said.
"He's a dominant player and when he's up and about, he's pretty hard to stop.
"He was a thorn in our side."
Grundy had 57 hit-outs to go with his 24 disposals, nine clearances and a goal, with Tom Langdon, Jack Crisp and Taylor Adams the chief ball-winners for the Pies.
In the opening quarter Collingwood's Travis Varcoe and Franklin kicked three goals each and the first six of the match in a one-on-one shootout, but four of the next five to the Pies gave them a 17-point lead at half-time.
Collingwood defender Darcy Moore failed to return after the main break with yet another hamstring injury, and in his absence after an entertaining battle with Franklin, the visitors' backline looked vulnerable in the third term.
Sydney piled on five in a row to take a two-goal break into the last quarter, and when Franklin snapped truly from the first centre clearance, the Swans were 18 points up.
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Collingwood quickly regained control of the midfield battle and Will Hoskin-Elliott booted two in a row after being unsighted all night, his second an unbelievable set shot from the boundary.
Varcoe had been well held after his opening burst but he bobbed up for a fourth to put the Pies in front deep into the quarter, before Franklin hit the post from a long way out with just over four minutes on the clock.
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The Pies had chances to seal it but couldn't find the goals, and the Swans swept the ball the length of the ground, where McCartin created something from nothing to help keep his side's season alive.
Sydney: The Swans got through without any injury worries.
Collingwood: Darcy Moore suffered a hamstring injury and played no part in the second half.
Collingwood heads back to Melbourne to host Brisbane at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, while the Swans take on Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday afternoon.
SYDNEY 3.2 4.4 9.6 11.7 (73)
COLLINGWOOD 4.1 7.3 7.6 10.11 (71)
Sydney: Franklin 6, Dawson 2, Kennedy, Ronke, McCartin
Collingwood: Varcoe 4, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Cox, Daicos, Sidebottom, Grundy
Sydney: Franklin, Aliir, Rampe, Hewett, McVeigh, Parker
Collingwood: Grundy, Langdon, Adams, Crisp, Sier, Varcoe
Collingwood: Moore (hamstring)
Umpires: Deboy, Harris, McInerney
Official crowd: 39,238 at the SCG