A TOP two spot and two home finals are now in Sydney’s hands after the Swans ended Collingwood’s 11-game winning streak in emphatic fashion at the SCG on Sunday.
On a day where Sydney celebrated 40 years since relocating from South Melbourne to the Harbour City, where Josh Kennedy completed a lap of honour after he announced his retirement on Tuesday and where poster boy Isaac Heeney played game No.150, John Longmire’s side enhanced its premiership credentials with a comprehensive 27-point win over the Magpies.
The Swans have now won six games on the trot – nine of 11 – and will finish second on the ladder if they beat St Kilda at Marvel Stadium next Sunday night (and if some other results fall their way), after defeating Collingwood 11.11 (77) to 7.8 (50) on the penultimate Sunday of the home and away season.
After finishing in the bottom four in 2019 and 2020, Sydney has risen again after a brief September dalliance last year.
And the SCG is absolutely rocking again.
SWANS v PIES Full match coverage and stats
When Dane Rampe desperately ran down Brody Mihocek to stop a certain goal halfway through the last quarter, a packed house erupted for the loudest cheer on a day of celebration.
There would be no fourth quarter heroics for Collingwood this week. No last gasp miracles. Not another single-digit victory after six in a row.
With Collingwood midfielder/forward Jordan De Goey a late out, the Magpies struggled to match the intensity and potency of a Sydney outfit who has emerged as a genuine premiership threat in the past month.
Much like most of the season in this neck of the woods, Sydney had an even spread of contribution across the ground. James Rowbottom, Callum Mills and Chad Warner got the job done around the ball. The Swans smashed the Pies in disposals (+72), contested possessions (+30) and tackles (+22).The McCartin brothers – Paddy and Tom – were enormous behind the ball, as was Robbie Fox and Rampe.
And then it was the rockstar trio of Lance Franklin (three goals), Isaac Heeney (two goals) and Tom Papley (two goals) who terrorised an undersized Collingwood backline that was rattled into uncharacteristic turnovers and nervous moments.
Sydney made a fast start and dominated the opening quarter, kicking four goals to two but should have led by more at the first break. They hit the post twice and had another goal overturned in the ARC. The margin was only 15 points at half-time, but the gulf between the two flag contenders felt like more.
Collingwood briefly threatened to do what they have done so often under Craig McRae in the past three months: Just find a way. But when Jeremy Howe turned over the ball coming out of defensive 50 just after half-time, Franklin capitalised, kicking his second goal to draw level with Tony Lockett on 462 goals – the equal fifth most in club history – and then go past Plugger.
Heeney, Papley and Errol Gulden all added goals before Ash Johnson and Mason Cox kicked two late goals before three-quarter time to create an element of doubt. They couldn’t again, could they?
No, they couldn’t. When James Rowbottom slotted a goal two minutes into the final game, Sydney was home.
They will have to win next weekend to ensure Brisbane or Melbourne don’t pinch second spot, but they are in the box seat now.
With the NRL about to unwrap its shiny new gift – Allianz Stadium – next door next month, Sydney might have two finals at the SCG this September. And from there, anything is possible.
Massive crowd on a massive day
It was built up internally as one of, if not the biggest home and away game in 20 years and it didn’t disappoint. The game was sold out earlier in the week and was always going to come down to how many members turned up. They turned up. It wasn’t quite the record of 46,362 that packed in for an elimination final in 2017, but it came close. 44,659 is the third-highest AFL crowd at the SCG, and when you consider the average NRL game is 15,855, it highlights just how big this is.
Huge late out hurts Pies
Collingwood was hit with a massive blow before the opening bounce after Jordan De Goey was ruled out due to a hip flexor injury. The 26-year-old hurt himself at training on Friday but travelled to Sydney and was on the SCG at three-quarter time of the VFL game, but didn’t return in a major blow for Craig McRae’s men. De Goey starred against Port Adelaide and Melbourne after recovering from a quad injury in recent weeks. Jack Ginnivan also injured his hamstring just before half-time and was subbed out at the main break.
From Academy kid to poster boy
Isaac Heeney grew up dreaming of playing next door at Sydney Football Stadium, but it is at the SCG where the Hunter Valley product has become a household name, reaching 150 games on Sunday. The 26-year-old continued his career-best season, adding two goals to take him to 44 for the season. He threatened to demolish the Magpies in the first half, but ended up playing his role amongst a well-oiled machine in attack.
SYDNEY 4.4 5.7 9.10 11.11 (77)
COLLINGWOOD 2.3 3.4 6.5 7.8 (50)
Sydney: Franklin 3, Heeney 2, Papley 2, Gulden, Hayward, Rampe, Rowbottom
Collingwood: Cameron, Cox, N. Daicos, J. Daicos, Ginnivan, Johnson, Mihocek
Sydney: Mills, Rowbottom, Fox, P. McCartin, Parker, Franklin, Warner
Collingwood: J. Daicos, Pendlebury, Cameron, Maynard
Collingwood: Ginnivan (hamstring), Hoskin-Elliott (nose)
Sydney: Braeden Campbell (unused)
Collingwood: Callum Brown (replaced Jack Ginnivan in third quarter)
CROWD: 44,659 at the Sydney Cricket Ground