SYDNEY has warmed up for the finals with a crushing 87-point win over Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium, where refreshed maestro Lance Franklin starred as he surged to within striking distance of a magical 1000-goal milestone.
Franklin, who was rested last week, booted six goals to equal his best haul of this season as the Swans triumphed 21.10 (136) to 6.13 (49).
The four-time Coleman medallist's career tally now stands at 992 goals.
The iconic forward is one big bag away from becoming the sixth man to kick 1000 goals in VFL/AFL history, with all eyes certain to be on the 34-year-old when Sydney 'host' an elimination final and continue their stint away from home that started on June 22.
Swans young gun Callum Mills, who returned on Saturday as he continues to manage Achilles tendonitis, looked in discomfort early on then was eventually substituted in the third quarter.
There was otherwise a lot to like for Sydney coach John Longmire, whose side boasted a 40-point lead early in the second term before the Suns finally kicked their opening goal of the contest.
The Swans ended the regular season in emphatic fashion, comfortably and clinically making it seven victories from the final eight rounds.
It would be understandable if Longmire's charges went through the motions, especially given the absence of a pre-finals bye.
But Sydney's masterclass in pressure, capacity to repeatedly play on and move the ball quickly, precisely and potently meant it was anything but a perfunctory win.
Franklin led the way, setting the tone when he slotted the game's opening goal after just 23 seconds.
The superstar moved freely, flew for marks, attacked the football fiercely and outmuscled and outwitted opponents in a display that bodes well for the Swans' hopes of doing some damage in September.
SWANS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats
Luke Parker, Tom Hickey, Jake Lloyd and Jordan Dawson also enjoyed productive hit-outs in their finals tune-up, while Tom Papley, Isaac Heeney, Hayden McLean and Sam Wicks booted a combined ten goals.
Ben King's four goals were among few positives for Suns coach Stuart Dew, who on Friday brushed off a Nine Network report that he will soon be sacked by a club that has failed to qualify for finals since entering the league in 2011.
Dew's charges briefly stemmed the bleeding in the second term but never came close to a victorious farewell for retiring foundation players Jarrod Harbrow and Zac Smith.
It was a particularly unfitting end for Harbrow, who was subbed off late in the final term with an apparent shoulder injury.
Mills pushes through pre-finals pain
Callum Mills missed the past two matches with Achilles soreness that he has managed throughout much of the season but was recalled for what was almost a dead rubber game for the Swans. The 24-year-old didn't look comfortable in the pre-game warm-up and was sitting on the sidelines just seven minutes into the match with concerns over his right foot. Mills was limping again when the teams returned after half-time but played on until late in the third term before being subbed out. The defender-turned-midfielder had 18 disposals and a goal by that stage but with the game effectively settled much earlier it was curious to see a key player pushing through pain on the eve of finals.
Miller makes time to break record
Touk Miller completed his stunning streak of having 30+ disposals to a record-breaking 16 matches. The Suns gun finished with 37 disposals, four clearances and nine tackles as he again carried a misfiring midfield. The 25-year-old will surely claim his first club champion award but Miller’s record of consistency also has him well-placed for a maiden All-Australian blazer. He is ineligible to add the Brownlow Medal to any honours this year, but is prolific enough to regularly catch the umpire’s eye.
Sun sets on Harbrow’s time
The Suns honoured their games record-holder by warming up in T-shirts with 'Harbrow 5' on the back but weren't able to send him off with a win in his 192nd and final match for the club. Jarrod Harbrow started the game on the bench but ended it as one of the Suns' best as he gathered 21 disposals which included 16 of his typically silky kicks, before he was subbed out with five minutes remaining due to a shoulder injury. The Suns' 2018 club champion almost finished with a goal too, when a shot on the run from outside 50m in the first term looked on target but was denied by an unlucky bounce.
SYDNEY 6.4 9.7 13.7 21.10 (136)
GOLD COAST 0.4 3.8 5.9 6.13 (49)
Sydney: Franklin 6, Papley 3, Heeney 3, Wicks 2, McLean 2, Mills, Dawson, Gulden, Hickey, Rowbottom
Gold Coast: King 4, Corbett, Sexton
Sydney: Franklin, Dawson, Heeney, Hickey, Parker, McInerney, Lloyd
Gold Coast: Miller, Anderson, Harbrow, Davies, Fiorini
Sydney: Mills (Achilles)
Gold Coast: Harbrow (shoulder)
Sydney: Fox (replaced Mills)
Gold Coast: Sharp (replaced Harbrow)
Crowd: Zero at Marvel Stadium