SYDNEY has snapped a run of four straight losses, holding on in the frantic final seconds to claim a five-point victory over Essendon at the SCG on Friday night.
Bomber David Myers had the chance to launch a set-shot after the siren from 65m, but his kick fell 10m short as the rebuilding Swans clung on for a well-deserved 11.11 (77) to 10.12 (72) victory – just their second of the season.
In a close game full of momentum swings, the Swans – without Lance Franklin (hamstring) for a third week in a row – made the most of their opportunities inside 50 in a tight last quarter, with a wayward Will Hayward booting the game's decisive goal at the 18-minute mark of the final term.
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The missed opportunity is a costly one for the Bombers and their finals hopes, with losses to Collingwood, Geelong and now Sydney keeping Essendon a game outside the eight with the full round needing to be completed.
Sydney coach John Longmire has been consistent in his messaging that this team is one in transition so far this year, and his youthful players including Nick Blakey (17 disposals and one goal), Jordan Dawson (15 and two goals) and Colin O'Riordan (17) were all key contributors.
However, it was the Swans' champions who had the biggest influence with Luke Parker (33 disposals and six clearances) back to his bullocking best, while Josh Kennedy (24 touches and 10 tackles) set the tone around stoppages.
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George Hewett did a brilliant job of containing Bomber star Dylan Shiel, although the star midfielder put together a sensational last term to almost get his side over the line.
As an example of how the game ebbed and flowed, after the Bombers kicked the first two goals of the game, there were five separate runs of three consecutive goals from each team.
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With the Swans locking down on Shiel, Zach Merrett enjoyed the space he found himself in with 28 disposals, seven clearances and nine tackles underlining his impact.
Andrew McGrath (25 touches) gave the Bombers important drive, while skipper Dyson Heppell racked up a team-high 30 touches.
Returning from two weeks on the sidelines, Orazio Fantasia made a big impact with three first-half goals, the third highlighting his exceptional talent.
Fantasia finished with four for the match, but the Bombers' potency inside forward 50 was badly let down by their delivery going inside 50, particularly in the final term as Cale Hooker constantly found himself having to spoil the ball to ground at the back of the contest.
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Joe Daniher's absence hurt immensely.
When Hayward goaled at the 18-minute mark, the Swans skipped out to an 11-point lead and appeared well in control, but a clever snap from Darcy Parish with less than five minutes remaining cut the advantage to just five.
That's where it stayed, as Essendon's last desperate transition landed in Myers' lap outside scoring range.
Sydney: Veteran Swan Kieren Jack went down to the changerooms in the second quarter to be assessed for concussion after a gang tackle from the Bombers left him dazed. Jack came back onto the ground and played out the game, although he spent long periods on the bench. Sam Reid came off late in the game hobbling and had some work done by the physio on his hip.
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Essendon: Michael Hurley rolled his left ankle when he stood on someone's foot in a marking contest in the final quarter. Hurley came back on after receiving treatment on the bench
Essendon will return home to Victoria for a clash against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium next Saturday night. Sydney will travel to Hobart to face North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena.
SYDNEY 2.6 6.8 9.9 11.11 (77)
ESSENDON 2.3 7.3 8.6 10.12 (72)
Sydney: Dawson 2, Fox, Blakey, Florent, Papley, Heeney, Reid, O'Riordan, McCartin, Hayward
Essendon: Fantasia 4, Parish 2, Bellchambers, Merrett, Stringer, McKenna
Sydney: Parker, Hewett, Kennedy, Sinclair, Rampe, Blakey
Essendon: Hurley, Heppell, Merrett, McGrath, Hooker
Essendon: Michael Hurley (ankle)
Umpires: Meredith, Gianfagna, Mollison
Official crowd: 26,502 at the SCG