Jeremy McGovern, West Coast’s star defender, was given a bath by Franklin, who at times embarrassed his direct opponent by drifting 20 metres away from him to gobble up easy marks.
Buddy finished with 5.4 – his last goal coming after the final siren from trademark territory right along the boundary – while Reid booted three. Sydney’s twin towers looked and moved perfectly in sync and at their base, Papley brilliantly cleaned up the crumbs to kick a career-best five goals.
Sydney are in rebuilding mode, but as the last three weeks have shown – and this 18.8 (116) to 10.11 (71) result further proves – their best football can still compete with anyone. They might not make the finals, but they’ll certainly shape them.
In the final wash-up, the Swans had a whopping 106 more possessions than the Eagles, who somehow won the inside 50 count by 12, while Jake Lloyd had a game-high 42 touches.
The Swans stormed out of the gates, kicking the first three goals of the match to establish an early 17-point lead. It evaporated in a flash. It took West Coast until the 18th minute to register their first major, through Josh Kennedy, who kicked another moments later from almost the exact same spot, and then had a hand in the lead-up play that set up Liam Ryan.
Those three goals came in a four-minute stretch, and it felt like a warning for Sydney at the time. In the end, it was the only period of the game in which the Eagles looked remotely threatening.
Kennedy finished with three goals and, one-on-one, had the better of Dane Rampe in his 150th game, but the milestone man was still able to celebrate.
The Swans broke the game open in the third quarter, kicking five goals while restricting West Coast to just 1.5, and had their tails up from then on.
Adding further credence to this emphatic performance was the fact that the Swans had only one fit man on the bench for much of the second half. Colin O’Riordan was concussed in a second-term sling tackle from Willie Rioli, who is likely to be suspended for the incident.
In the same quarter, Jackson Thurlow was ironed out by a late Nathan Vardy bump and did not return after half-time. Most concerning of all was the sight of veteran Jarrad McVeigh next to them both on the pine. The former Swans co-captain was playing in just his second game back from a two-month absence with an injured quad, which he appeared to twinge once again.
SYDNEY 4.1 9.6 14.7 18.8 (116)
WEST COAST 3.2 6.3 7.8 10.11 (71)
GOALS – Sydney: L Franklin 5 T Papley 5 S Reid 3 C Sinclair G Hewett J Rose L Parker T McCartin. West Coast: J Kennedy 3 L Ryan 2 W Rioli 2 J Darling J McGovern J Waterman.
BEST – Sydney: Franklin, Papley, Lloyd, Rampe, Parker, Reid.
West Coast: Gaff, Sheed, Shuey, Kennedy.
INJURIES – Sydney: O’Riordan (concussion), Thurlow, McVeigh (quad).
UMPIRES: Margetts, Hay, Meredith, Fleer.
CROWD: 36,640 at SCG.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.