LANCE Franklin arrived back at the SCG with a bang, booting three goals to lead Sydney to a 33-point win over Adelaide on Saturday.
All eyes were on Buddy in his first match since round 23, 2019, and the key forward didn't disappoint in a solid display that at times promised much more.
SWANS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats
The new-look Swans continued their stunning start to the season, moving the ball well through the corridor and taking advantage of a potent forward line to run away with a 18.13 (121) to 11.22 (88) victory.
"A few cobwebs, that's for sure," Franklin told Fox Footy.
"The past 18 months ... was disappointing for myself.
"It's been a stressful time for everyone, with COVID and everything, but it's amazing to be back ... I loved every minute."
Adelaide veteran Taylor Walker turned back the clock again, kicking six goals to add to his five from last week.
Errol Gulden, who claimed the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in round one, starred again for Sydney, nabbing 22 disposals, one goal and four assists.
Fellow Academy graduate Braeden Campbell ended an outstanding performance across half-back with 25 disposals, 21 of them kicks. Isaac Heeney booted three goals for the second week in a row.
The Crows started well to lead by 13 points halfway through the first term, bringing the same pressure that had helped them make a fast start against Geelong in their upset victory last weekend.
Walker set the tone early with his intensity and earned three free kicks from tackles inside 50m that he was able to turn into two of his three goals to half-time.
But once the Swans settled, they were able to hit the scoreboard with 10 of the next 11 goals from late in the first quarter until halfway through the third term.
Shane McAdam finished with four goals for Adelaide, three of them coming in a row late in the final quarter.
Ben Keays (27 disposals), Rory Laird (30) and Rory Sloane (21) also battled hard in a wasteful performance in front of goal, especially in the third quarter when they kicked 2.8.
It is Sydney's first 2-0 start since 2016.
No ifs or Butts
After keeping Geelong Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins to two goals and earning himself a couple of coaches votes in round one, this week Jordon Butts faced a fresh challenge as he lined up next to Lance Franklin. The 21-year-old key defender, in his fourth game, played Franklin closely throughout their contest, and spoiled several of the superstar’s marking attempts, giving up three goals but was far from disgraced.
You've been Warner-ed
Chad Warner might not be the most hyped of the Swans' young guns, despite a shock of dyed blonde hair bringing the boy band looks, but the 19-year-old looks more than capable of being part of the long-term midfield mix. Tough at the contest yet also prepared to spread fast, he ensured the Swans continued on their way despite the absence of James Rowbottom, picking up 20 disposals with 10 of them contested. The WA-born Warner also hit the scoreboard with two goals, including a long bomb from outside 50m that got the Swans back on track after a period of Crows dominance in the third term.
Master and the apprentice
Logan McDonald has grown up playing footy as the main forward target, and even played that role in his debut for the Swans last weekend. But a team with Lance Franklin inside 50m is going to look to get him the ball. McDonald still had moments to shine, kicked two goals and again showed why he's expected to be Franklin's long-term successor. The master and his apprentice worked well together, rarely getting in each other's way or competing for the same balls in the air. When McDonald kicked his first goal, from a tight angle, a grinning Franklin was the first to congratulate him with a warm embrace. But McDonald showed that he knows his place, or at least appreciated the occasion, when he took a grab on the run just outside the goalsquare, quickly played on and handballed to Franklin who put it through from the goal line. You suspect Franklin is going to return the favour many times over.
SYDNEY 4.1 9.6 15.11 18.13 (121)
ADELAIDE 3.2 4.6 6.14 11.22 (88)
Sydney: Franklin 3, Heeney 3, Hickey 2, McDonald 2, Warner 2, Papley, Gulden, Reid, Wicks, Parker, McInerney
Adelaide: Walker 6, McAdam 4, Keays
Sydney: Gulden, Campbell, Heeney, Parker, Lloyd, Franklin
Adelaide: Walker, McAdam, Keays, Laird, Sloane
Sydney: Matthew Ling (unused)
Adelaide: Chayce Jones (unused)
Crowd: 23,946 at the SCG