AN ISAAC Heeney-inspired Sydney has overcome a spirited North Melbourne to snatch an 11-point victory at the SCG on Saturday.
Heeney goaled with four seconds remaining to seal the win, having been instrumental throughout the final term as the Swans were given a huge fright by a Kangaroos team that responded heroically to a 108-point thumping by Brisbane last week.
The Kangaroos appeared set for an unlikely victory when Kayne Turner slotted the opening goal of the final term to stretch their lead to 14 points but the Swans were then able to kick the last four goals of the match to prevail 13.8 (86) to 12.3 (75).
SWANS v ROOS Full match coverage and stats
Justin McInerney, who racked up an incredible 14 touches in the final quarter, kicked a crucial goal in the 22nd minute to make the margin six points but the Kangaroos then had several forays forward that included a behind to Jaidyn Stephenson until Heeney's final intervention ended the contest.
Lance Franklin was mobbed by thousands of fans after kicking his 1000th career goal the last time the Swans visited the SCG but this time was forced to watch on for the last quarter and a half when substituted out of the match due to a finger injury.
While the Swans will be happy to leave with the four points there will also be some concerns for Paddy McCartin after he went straight down to the changerooms following a heavy knock halfway through the final term. The former No.1 draft pick returned to run out the match.
North Melbourne shook things up with Jack Ziebell starting forward and he earned an early free kick with a desperate tackle on Nick Blakey that set the tone for the Kangaroos and gave them the opening goal of the match.
Ziebell brought some of the pressure and intensity he has played with in defence over the past year back to the Kangaroos' forward line but impressed just as much as a leading target to finish with five goals.
At the other end, Swans veteran Sam Reid marked his return to the senior side with an early goal, taking his chance from a set shot 50m from goal and close to the boundary in the first term.
The injury-prone forward-ruck was involved in several attacking plays and helped stretch a North Melbourne backline that also had to deal with fellow talls Franklin and Hayden McLean (both two goals).
The Kangaroos appeared to have the edge in the ruck with Todd Goldstein and Tristan Xerri double-teaming the Swans' club debutant Peter Ladhams, but the deep Sydney midfield was able to dominate the clearances 42-30.
Winger Justin McInerney was the hero for the Swans just when they needed someone to stand up. The 21-year-old was the spark in the final term, using his speed to take the game on and drive the Swans forward. He racked up an incredible 14 disposals in the final term to go with four marks and a clutch goal to put his side in front with seven minutes remaining. He finished the game with 30 disposals and seven clearances in a brilliant performance.
Air-Horne nearly takes MOTY
It seems only a matter of time before Jason Horne-Francis takes a mark of the year contender. After showing his high-flying ability in the pre-season in an intraclub match, Horne-Francis nearly repeated the feat against the Swans. He launched over James Bell on the wing and got hands on the ball, but a late Callum Mills fist prevented the No.1 pick from hauling in an epic mark.
Captain Jack delivers in new role
David Noble swung a surprise before the opening bounce with Jack Ziebell stationed in the forward line. The skipper, who has been the past few seasons down back, made a brilliant start with a strong tackle and goal from the resulting free kick. His ferocious attack on the ball gave the Roos a real lift and he was able to hit the scoreboard with three first-half goals on his way to five for the match. It was nearly a match-winning performance and one that gives Noble another weapon up forward in the future.
SYDNEY 3.2 6.4 9.6 13.8 (86)
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.0 6.1 11.1 12.3 (75)
Sydney: Franklin 2, Bell 2, McLean 2, Heeney 2, Reid, Warner, Ronke, Hayward, McInerney
North Melbourne: Ziebell 5, Goldstein 2, Zurhaar, Xerri, Simpkin, Mahony, Turner
Sydney: McInerney, Mills, Heeney, Florent, Warner
North Melbourne: Ziebell, Simpkin, Horne-Francis, Stephenson, McDonald
Sydney: Franklin (finger)
North Melbourne: Zurhaar (concussion)
Sydney: Sam Wicks (H&S protocols) replaced in selected side by James Bell
North Melbourne: Nil
Sydney: Ben Ronke (replaced Lance Franklin in third quarter)
North Melbourne: Aiden Bonar (replaced Cam Zurhaar in fourth quarter)