While there were no repeats of Flagpole Rampe doing his best lumber jack impersonation, it wouldn't have been unwelcome, given the rapturous reception he received from the locals. Met with loud boos every single time he went near the ball, it's a wonder he didn't climb it out of fear.
Maybe he should have climbed it to spoil several of Essendon's last quarter shot, especially the one that was reviewed for what felt like an eternity. We could have used him on that post in the second-half, swatting at our shots like King Kong swatted at bi-planes on the silver screen.
Alas, it just wasn't to be, neither was that first quarter. A game, not one for the record books, that can be considered dreadful for the most part, was symbolic of the current state of AFL - boring, defensive and featuring shocking skill execution.
I thought Sav Rocca and Travis Cloke were the only footballers who could miss a sitter from 15 metres out.
Laying more than 3 tackles in the final quarter wouldn't go astray either. Just the opinion of one arm-chair coach.
B: Callum Mills, Dane Rampe, Lewis Melican HB: Jake Lloyd, Aliir Aliir, Zak Jones C: Harry Cunningham, George Hewett, Jordan Dawson HF: Will Hayward, Nick Blakey, Oliver Florent F: Luke Parker, Tom McCartin, Tom Papley FOL: Sam Reid, Josh P. Kennedy, Isaac Heeney I/C: James Rose, James Rowbottom, Ben Ronke, Colin O'Riordan
The last time the Swans beat Essendon at the MCG, 96 years ago, Roy Cazaly was playing, women wore ‘flapper’ fashion, and an average Melbourne man’s wage was 17 pounds a month.
And, potentially, the next time the Swans beat Essendon at the MCG we’ll be driving flying cars and Mars will be our summer holiday hotspot.
Sadly, despite a spirited-if-not-stylish performance against the Bombers at the AFL grand final venue today, the red and white couldn’t quite end the MCG losing streak, going down 11.10 (76) to 9.12 (66).
Neither team were particularly polished, with plenty of dodgy kicks, wayward handballs and multiple turnovers, but Essendon’s better goal-kicking efficiency - particularly in the final quarter - proved the difference.
David Zaharakis, with 22 possessions and three goals, was the difference for the Bombers, alongside Dylan Shiel (29 disposals, 9 tackles) who was unstoppable.
Essendon did well considering captain Dyson Heppell was ruled out with a foot problem for the game started, with his replacement Kyle Langford kicking the sealing goal late in the final quarter.
Swans co-captain Josh Kennedy lead from the front-foot brilliantly, from first to final whistle, amassing 35 disposals (15 contested possessions), nine clearances and four inside 50s, in his most dominant performance this year.
In the end, there weren't enough contributors from the Swans, while classy midfielder Isaac Heeney (33 disposals, 10 marks) and Zak Jones (22 disposals, 1 goal) provided plenty of attacking pace throughout the game.
Heeney looked back to his almost unstoppable best in the first-half, picking up 22 disposals, but managed just 3 disposals in the third quarter, when the Swans could have put the match beyond reach, while George Hewett (26 disposals, 7 clearances) grew into the match.
A late goal to Shaun McKernan in the third quarter, from just one of the myriad of baffeling umpire decisions, kept the Bombers within reach at the last change.
Aliir Aliir, who not only had the better of lumbering Essendon ruckman Zac Clarke, but had eight clearances, eight inside 50s and a shot for goal (which slewed across the goalposts for no score), could do little as Zac Clarke took a crucial mark late in the game, halting another Swans attack.
While Sydney won the clearances 33-26 and the inside 50 count by four, Essendon kicked a match-winning 4.5 to Sydney’s 2.4 in the fourth quarter, with the Swans ruing several missed chances.
In one case of youthful excitement overcoming though, rookie forward Nick Blakey played on in the forward 50 when Sam Reid was illegally bumped in a marking contest, but was unable to kick on his right due to Bombers’ pressure and kicked a point.
Later, the Swans rebounded the ball from defence to attack in a beautiful piece of transitional play, but Heeney rushed his kick for goal and it was only a minor score.
So, Essendon retain their MCG winning streak against Sydney/South Melbourne and the history books stay on the shelf.
Of course, life moved at a much more leisurely pace in the 1920s when the old South Melbourne Swans last defeated the red and black at what was then just a big cricket ground.
And after the first half today, it appeared both teams had reverted to a similarly old-fashioned, slower type of defensive game to mirror a bygone era, with only seven goals kicked between them.
To be fair to the Swans, the forward line struggled to find its mojo all day with Lance Franklin out injured and Reid assisting in ruck duties.
There was frustration for Sydney forwards Tom Papley, who missed a couple of good shots on goal, Will Hayward who managed to spray one from 15 metres out and Aliir, who looked very much like a defender kicking for goal when he took a set shot inside 50, mistimed it and slid the ball completely across the sticks.
The Swans return to the SCG hosting the resurgent Carlton Blues, with Fremantle keeping their finals chance alive after copping a Western Derby belting.
We take a look at some of the talking points from the Swans' round 15 win against the Gold Coast Suns at the SCG on Saturday afternoon.
1: Swans ruck depth to be tested
With Darcy Cameron ruled out with a quad injury, and big man Sam Naismith struggling to overcome an ACL injury suffered 18-months ago, Sydney's worst nightmare finally turned to reality on Saturday night, when Callum Sinclair leaving the ground in the first minute clutching his right shoulder.
After ample amount of strapping was added to his injured shoulder, Sinclair returned to the field, immediately returning to the centre circle. In his first ruck contest, he barely got off the ground, while leaving the ground for good minutes later, dislocating the same shoulder again.
The Swans have a serious selection dilemma on their hands, with the Swans hesitant to rush Naismith back, and unwilling to throw the unproved mid-season draftee Michael Knoll into the ruck against Essendon next week.
2: Young Swans lead the way
The Swans have debuted more than 30 players since 2015, with many of those players forming the core of today's team. George Hewett, Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Tom Papley and Aliir Aliir headline the group, while players like Ben Ronke, Oliver Florent, Will Hayward and James Rowbottom continue to steal the limelight.
James Rose, playing his third consecutive game of the season and the most since 2016, is averaging career-best numbers, while James Rowbottom playing in just his fourth career game, finished with 21 disposals and 8 tackles.
3: Vintage Parker a Brownlow smokey?
With expectations high coming into the season, Luke Parker was one of many senior players that started the season off with an audible thud and groan, than a bang. It wasn't long before the faithful turned on the new co-captain, almost demanding his captaincy in the hope it would lead to a turn-around in form.
His surge in form since round 7 has coincided with the Swans' turn around in form, averaging 30 disposals and 12.6 contested possessions per game. While the coaches have twice given him the full 10 votes - Round 8 against Essendon and Round 14 against Hawthorn - this season, he would be hard pressed to miss out on the full 10 votes again this week.
4: Nick Blakey is no push over
Hot off the heels of Franklin demanding he plays in the forward line with the 19-year-old rising star, Blakey's physical ability had an asterisk against it until this weekend, when he ate forearm and knee from Suns giant Jarrod Witts.
While contesting a mark deep inside the Swans forward 50 early in the game, Witts flew back into the pack with the ball, with eyes only on the player, landing his forearm on Blakey's forehead, and knee in the middle of his ribs. Despite his light, athletic frame, Blakey bounced back up from the deck and slotted the goal.
5: Half-time rethink leads to Swans demolition
After trailing at quarter-time in a tight, if not dour contest, both teams flexed their muscles in an entertaining second quarter, with the Swans booting four goals to three. The coaches demanded a return to "basics" at the long break, after the Swans had overused the ball by hand.
Their play-on percentage plummeted, while their use by foot marginally improved along with their ability to hit targets. Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley, quiet in the first half, instantly became hit-up targets, while Will Hayward played higher up the field in the same way Tom Lynch does for the Crows.
6: Swans spread the load in superstar's absence
Lance Franklin is such a dominating presence in the Swans forward line, that midfielders inadvertently use him as their forward half target 40 percent of the time. The once-dreaded forced absence through injury or otherwise, has turned into a boon for the developing Swans, featuring an array of goal-kicking talent.
Forwards Sam Reid, Nick Blakey, Tom Papley and Will Hayward, who've previously prospered in his absence, got in on the action again on Saturday afternoon, while small forward Ben Ronke and midfielder Isaac Heeney joined the party. The Swans' ability to lower their eyes and hit-up targets on the lead in space, is seriously undervalued, but the one thing they rarely do when Franklin is in the side.
Each round we'll be posting our votes for The Swans Blog's Player of the Year award.
The players will be voted on their performance on the day regardless of previous form. The player with the highest number of votes at the end of the season, wins. Simple.
Round 15 saw the Swans take on the Gold Coast Suns at the SCG on Saturday afternoon, returning to the scene of one of the greatest crimes in modern AFL history.
The game was tight and tough in the first half, with the Suns dominating the ruck battle after Callum Sinclair left the field with a dislocated shoulder.
Despite trailing by less than a goal at half-time, the Suns wilted under the class and experience of Sydney's on-ball brigade, kicking just two goals to eight after the main break.
Swans utility Jordan Dawson played one of his career best games after Sinclair's shoulder injury inside the first minute of the match.
With Aliir Aliir expected to play centre-half back for most of the match, Aliir was shifted into the ruck and Tom McCartin moved into defence.
Even under immense pressure, the left footed midfielder turned his normally dependable foot into a weapon of mass destruction, going at over 90 percent for the match.
While fellow defender Jake Lloyd was well held in a hard tag by Suns' forward Brad Sheer, Dawson's trusty left boot more often than not found a target out of defence, with 8 rebound 50s.
Co-captain Luke Parker was copping the brunt of the Swans' midfield criticism early in the season, but has since returned to career-best form, averaging 30 disposals since Round 7.
His 16 contested possessions was his second best of the season - his season high was 21 against Collingwood in Round 10, averaging 12.6 since Round 7.
His four centre clearances was equal team-high with Aliir Aliir, while laying 6 tackles, a far improvement in defensive work rate in the last two months.
Captain Josh Kennedy enjoyed far more of the ball this week against the Suns than last week against the Hawks, at one point finding the ball like a winger.
While he may have dropped even more yards of pace over the last 18 months, his ability to pin-point passes has not diminished, with an unbelievable 35 metre chiseler in the third quarter.
With Aliir Aliir shifting into the ruck for most of the match, and Dane Rampe with his hands full on Sam Day and Peter Wright, Callum Mills stepped into the void Aliir left.
His impact was telling, so much so that he had 4 intercept marks inside defensive 50 at half-time - with 6 marks in total.
It wasn't just his ability to read the ball and impact the Suns forward-half forays - recording 9 intercept possessions, but it was his willingness to throw his body about when it was required, but still show enough poise to use the ball well.
High-flying Isaac Heeney capitalised on the tiring Suns in the last quarter, booting two classy goals, but it was his work in the midfield in the third quarter that helped break the game wide open.
While going at almost 90 percent efficiency for the match, his 10 possession third quarter turned the tide, using the ball in a way that the Suns had no answer for.
He finished with a game-high 11 marks - 3 of them inside forward 50, 9 score involvements and 2 goal assists.
VOTES ROUND 15
5 - Jordan Dawson
4 - Luke Parker
3 - Josh Kennedy
2 - Callum Mills
1 - Isaac Heeney
It would be remiss of me if I didn't mention that midway through the second quarter, I expected the Swans to roll over and play dead. Why, might you ask? Well, isn't that what we did last year, save a few late goals?
This year though, this is definitely not the same mentally weak side that rocked up that sunny afternoon (I rolled out of bed at 4am to watch this match!), put 6 on the scoreboard in the first quarter, then decided to hit the pub in the Moore Park precinct. I can't really say I blame them when the Suns were utterly dreadful and it was some shonky shots on goal that prevented the Swans from registering 8 or 9 that quarter.
Still, you can't roll over at any point. That's not to say they did this time around. When your only ruck goes down injured in virtually the first contest of the game, you're going to be up against it, no matter what.
Despite that, the Suns just couldn't capitalise, and the difference between the two teams was definitely between the arcs, because neither side possessed a particularly potent forward line.
B: Callum Mills, Dane Rampe, Lewis Melican HB: Jordan Dawson, Aliir Aliir, Jake Lloyd C: Oliver Florent, Josh P. Kennedy, Zak Jones HF: Tom Papley, Tom McCartin, Isaac Heeney F: Nick Blakey, Sam Reid, Will Hayward FOL: Callum Sinclair, Luke Parker, George Hewett I/C: James Rose, James Rowbottom, Ben Ronke, Colin O'Riordan
Ask any Sydney Swans fan what their worst nightmare is, and just about every single one of them would tell you that it's Callum Sinclair going down with an injury.
In Sydney's 42-point win at the SCG on Saturday afternoon against the 17th-placed Gold Coast Suns, nightmare turned reality, with Sinclair dislocating his shoulder inside the first 30 seconds of the match.
To his credit - not to the Swans medical team for allowing him to continue - he returned to the field with a heavily strapped shoulder.
It wasn't long before he was back on the bench and out of the game, dislocating the same shoulder again while contesting a boundary throw in with Jarrod Witts.
Despite the injury, the Swans romped home to victory against the plucky Suns, with an 8-goals-to-2 second half to amazingly lift themselves into finals contention.
The Swans fought through a tough first-half contest, before blowing away the rapidly fading Suns to record their sixth win of the season.
The Suns had the better of the Swans early in the match, and looked like they were capable of repeating their stunning upset victory last year, with Alex Sexton booting their first goal.
Sinclair's injury, and Sydney's sloppy ball use early in the game gave the Suns a one-point first quarter lead, while Nick Blakey was the beneficiary of a massive front-on Jarrod Witts hit that will likely come under scrutiny.
Jordan Dawson celebrated his two-year contract extension this week with a stunning performance (28 disposals) that bodes well for the future, while co-captains Josh Kennedy (1 goal, 27 disposals) and Luke Parker (31 disposals, 16 contested) put on vintage displays.
With the Swans' ruckman missing for most of the game, they were forced to throw key defender Aliir Aliir into the ruck against Jarrod Witts, the leading hit-out ruckman of the season, while Tom McCartin moved from centre-half forward to centre-half back.
Witts dominated the contest against Aliir and was arguably the more influential player, finishing with 55 hit-outs for the match to Aliir's 8, while he finished with 17 disposals to 16.
Even with the Suns enjoying a clear advantage in the ruck, finishing the match with 40 more hit-outs (66-26), they failed to capitalise in the clearance department, registering just one more centre clearance (11-10), despite having 11 more clearances for the match (49-38).
Luke Parker (11 clearances), James Rowbottom (5), Hewett (5) and Aliir Aliir (4) lead the way for the Swans, with Parker and Aliir each registering 4 centre clearances.
Veteran defender Jarrod Harbrow did a superb job in stopping Sydney's live-wire small forward Tom Papley in the first half, limiting him to 8 disposals mostly in the defensive half of the ground, while Brad Sheer did a good job on Sydney's prolific ball-winning half-back Jake Lloyd.
Witt's influence grew in the second quarter with the Swans setup in the forward and backlines thrown into disarray, leading defender 12-1 hit-outs early in the quarter.
Gold Coast looked to take advantage of the ruck mismatch, with David Swallow and Anthony Miles taking it up to the Swans on-ball brigade, the latter drawing a free kick from an undisciplined Luke Parker off-the-ball infringement.
His set-show goal put the Suns 7-points up midway through the second quarter, before Parker turned from villain to hero, winning the centre clearance and drilling it long into Aliir's lap metres out from goal.
Aliir's first goal of the match, and his first of the season, followed by a classy finish by midfielder Zak Jones a minute later put the Swans back in front at the half-time break.
Callum Mills was a rock in defence for the Swans, with 6 marks to his name - 4 of them intercepts, while James Rowbottom and George Hewett laid 5 tackles each.
A four-goal-to-one third quarter, with Ben Ronke playing supplier and finisher for his second goal of the match, handed the Swans a 23-point third quarter lead.
Fledgling forward Nick Blakey kicked his second goal of the match late in the third quarter from another free kick in front, while Tom Papley finally broke free of Harbrow and slotted his first.
Papley's second goal of the match two minutes into the final quarter, virtually ended the match and the Suns' chances of a second upset win, and a couple to Isaac Heeney pushed the margin out to 7 goals, capping off a solid night for the Swans.
Will Hayward finally booted his first goal of the night with a minute left in the fourth quarter, celebrating his 50th game in style.
The Swans head to Melbourne to take on Essendon, who dispatched top-4 aspirants Greater Western Sydney in a scandalous fashion, with the significant aid of the goal review system. Without ruckman Callum Sinclair and superstar forward Lance Franklin, they'll need to dig deep and debut another player.
Callum Sinclair dislocated his right shoulder in the first 30 seconds of the match. He returned to the field after treatment and dislocated his shoulder. He did not return to the field. Midfielder Jordan Dawson was seen after the match with ice on his leg, after hobbling from a contest just before the final siren.
SYDNEY Reid (2), Blakey (2), Papley (2), Heeney (2), Ronke (2), Kennedy, Hayward, Aliir, Jones GOLD COAST MacPherson (2), Wright, Sexton, Scheer, Day, Miles
Sydney Swans's diminutive midfielder Tom Papley put on a small-forward masterclass on Sunday afternoon at the S.C.G, booting five goals from his 27 disposals in his sides' dominant 45-point win against the reigning 2018 AFL Premiers.
Papley has been one of Sydney's more consistent performers over the season, averaging 17 disposals per game, and going goalless on two occasions.
His ability to hit the scoreboard has been one of his strengths over the years, and the coaches have recognised his impact this year, voting him amongst the best players in Rounds 6, 9 and 12.
The Swans picked up the full 30 AFLCA Coaches Votes, with Tom Papley topping the list with the 10 votes, along with Jake Lloyd (8), Luke Parker (5), Lance Franklin (5), Dane Rampe (1) and Isaac Heeney (1).
Tom Papley finished with 27 disposals - 11 contested, 7 marks - 4 of them inside forward 50, 5 inside 50s, 5.2 and 2 goal assists - both to superstar forward Lance Franklin.
Even more impressive was his near-telepathic connection with Franklin - also kicked 5 goals, who registered 2 goal assists himself, both to Papley.
The two forwards combined for an astounding 29 score involvements, 4 goal assists, 10 goals, 11 marks inside 50 and 45 disposals - 16 of them contested.
Jake Lloyd was superb for the Swans in defence, collecting 42 disposals in a near best on ground performance, surpassing his previous personal best of 41 disposals against Fremantle in Round 9, 2018.
Co-captain Luke Parker's recent purple patch, coinciding with Sydney's upturn in form, has seen him average 29.4 possessions per game - 14.6 of them contested, along with 5 tackles and 5.4 clearances.
It wasn't just the tough stuff in the coalface that impressed on Sunday afternoon, it was his ability to take a contested grab that really caught the eye, on two occasions taking marks at key moments in the first half, backing into packs.
Fellow co-captain Dane Rampe had been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons of late, from a dip in form, climbing a goal post after the siren, to giving away a 50 metre penalty with just two minutes left against Collingwood in Round 10, that sealed the match.
His 150th is a game that he will no doubt want to remember, turning around a poor start on Josh Kennedy to record one of his career best games, finishing with 12 marks and 32 disposals at an incredible 94 percent disposal efficiency.
It was the second half of the match where he did the damage, collecting 20 disposals and 7 marks, along with 7 rebound 50s, putting the Eagles forward line to the sword, finishing with 10 intercept possessions and 750 metres gained.
Isaac Heeney returned to form after a month of down football, having picked up an ankle injury earlier in the season, finishing with 28 disposals and 10 score involvements.
His impact in the middle of the ground in the second half allowed the Swans to continue their centre clearance domination, picking up two clearances, but importantly, restricting the impact of Eagles duo Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff, who were struggling without Elliot Yeo.
AFLCA VOTES: SYDNEY vs WEST COAST
10 Tom Papley (SYD)
8 Jake Lloyd (SYD)
5 Luke Parker (SYD)
5 Lance Franklin (SYD)
1 Dane Rampe (SYD)
1 Isaac Heeney (SYD)
AFLCA SYDNEY SWANS LEADERBOARD
23 Luke Parker
16 George Hewett
16 Tom Papley
12 Jake Lloyd
11 Isaac Heeney
What a win! To paraphrase Heather Quinlan in her match report, is there anything better than beating the Eagles? Nope!
It's fair to say the stress levels were about to bring the house down coming into half-time, already down three players. There was some hope that Jackson Thurlow would continue playing, but once he went back into the rooms, you knew it was going to be almost impossible.
But this team, this very young and inexperienced team, did more than turn the impossible into the possible, they hammered the Eagles. This is definitely one of the best home and away wins I've ever seen from the Swans, but equally, an embarrassing shambles for the Eagles.
It goes to show how much a few good players missing can hurt a team, with Elliot Yeo and Shannon Hurn missing before the first bounce. But when a team is down to one rotation for two and a half quarters, and still outscores you by 45-points, questions have to be asked.
Can't be more proud of the team and the coaching staff at the moment, whatever they were trying to get going over the pre-season has finally starting to bear fruits. You just can't help but wonder what winning the Melbourne and Collingwood games might have done for our season.
B: Dane Rampe, Lewis Melican, Jake Lloyd HB: Callum Mills, Aliir Aliir, Jarrad McVeigh C: Jordan Dawson, Luke Parker, Ryan Clarke HF: Nick Blakey, Sam Reid, Colin O'Riordan F: Tom McCartin, Lance Franklin, Isaac Heeney FOL: Callum Sinclair, George Hewett, Tom Papley I/C: James Rose, Daniel Menzel, Jackson Thurlow, Oliver Florent
Each round we'll be posting our votes for The Swans Blog's Player of the Year award.
The players will be voted on their performance on the day regardless of previous form. The player with the highest number of votes at the end of the season, wins. Simple.
Round 12 saw the Swans return to the SCG to take on the West Coast Eagles, who haven't beaten the Swans at their home ground in more than 20 years.
What transpired ensured the long-lasting winning streak continued, with the Swans running rampant over the lacklustre 2018 Premiers, despite down to one rotation at half-time.
Defenders Colin O'Riordan and Jackson Thurlow suffered suspected concussions in the opening minutes of the second quarter, while veteran Jarrad McVeigh suffered a hamstring strain before half-time.
With their backs against the wall, down to just one rotation for more than half the match, the young Swans stood up to the biggest test of their fledgling careers.
Oliver Florent, George Hewett and Ryan Clarke didn't even take a break during the second half, while Tom Papley and Lance Franklin ran riot in the forward line.
Small forward Tom Papley demonstrated the gamut of plumbing abilities, finishing with a phenomenal 5 goals from 27 disposals, while having 16 score involvements and giving off another two goals.
His almost telepathic understanding with Lance Franklin produced several moments of magic, one with Papley drilling an inside 50 pass to Franklin, receiving a pass closer to goal moments later.
When the game was on the line, George Hewett was at the bottom of the clinches, registering a game-high 7 clearances - 6 of them from the centre circle.
His first quarter was phenomenal, registering 10 disposals and 3 centre clearances.
Despite prevailing by 45-points, the Eagles dominated the inside 50 count, registering 58-46 for the match.
Even though there were several small mistakes in the first half, Aliir's aerial work in the second half was superb, repelling almost every Eagles forward surge, taking as many intercept marks, as the Eagles had marks inside 50 for the game.
His form over the last 5 weeks has been nothing short of amazing, regularly beating his direct opponents in the air and at ground level, and he did exactly that against Nathan Vardy, who had no forward-half impact at all.
While Tom Papley received the player of the match award on the field, superstar forward Lance Franklin booted 5 goals in a dominant performance that will no doubt provide the blueprint for the rest of the competition.
With the Eagles already missing Shannon Hurn before the first bounce, Will Schofield and Jeremy McGovern had no choice but to take on Franklin.
Lance's work in the first quarter forced the early chance, while Sam Reid and Tom McCartin kept the intercepting defender accountable.
When the Swans needed a contested mark, co-captain Luke Parker willingly threw himself into the contest, recording an impressive four contested marks.
His 30 disposals - 15 contested - were of the highest quality, finishing the match with four centre clearances, one goal, one goal assist and three tackles.
VOTES ROUND 12
5 - Tom Papley
4 - George Hewett
3 - Aliir Aliir
2 - Lance Franklin
1 - Luke Parker
Swans fans - is there anything better than smashing the West Coast Eagles?
And frankly, is there anything more entertaining on a Sunday than watching Lance Franklin at his scintillating best against a hapless Eagles defence, with a willing-and-able assistant in Tom Papley plumbing the forward line and flushing out five goals of his own?
And finally, how can you NOT love a team that has a raft of young players, only one rotation left on the bench in the second half and is ranked 15th in 2019, and still beats the reigning premiers 18.8 (116) to 10.11 (71)?
Answer? You can’t. The Sydney Swans produced their best performance of the season to down West Coast by 45 points - continuing the Eagles’ 20-year losing streak at the SCG.
It was a win that gave Swans fans lacking in faith and hope a renewed zest for the future and a glimpse of what some of these developing players could bring to a fully functioning Sydney unit in years to come.
The most remarkable aspects of this comprehensive defeat were the number of injuries Sydney endured and their resilience in the face of a desperately bare interchange bench after halftime.
Young defender Colin O’Riordan suffered a concussion from a Willie Rioli sling tackle, key defender Jarrad McVeigh went down with a hamstring injury and another defender Jackson Thurlow was on the end of a big Nathan Vardy bump.
Despite having only one rotation for the entire second half, Sydney kept the full-ground pressure on the Eagles and shelved some pre-game positions and match-ups to cover the holes.
Forward James Rose (1 goal, 15 disposals), playing his first AFL-level game in season 2019, kicked a goal in the first quarter but slotted into the backline admirably to cover some of the gaping holes left by his injured teammates.
It must be said that while Franklin and Papley’s superlative efforts in the forward line headlined this win, it was the collective defensive performance to limit the West Coast’s Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling, Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli.
2018 club champion Jake LLoyd, Dane Rampe (32 disposals, 12 marks) in his 150th game, Callum Mills (25 disposals), Aliir Aliir (13 intercept possessions, 8 marks), the consistent George Hewett (29 disposals, 7 clearances), Luke Parker (30 disposals, 1 goal) and Isaac Heeney (28 disposals, 4 tackles) all played key roles in the Swans’ victory.
Lloyd had 42 disposals in a quality display while unheralded recruit Ryan Clarke chipped in with seven tackles and 22 disposals at an eye-popping 95% efficiency.
The Swans were flying high from the first whistle, tackling hard and providing plenty of run and carry through the middle of the ground, giving their long-suffering forwards marks on the lead and genuine one-on-one contests.
Papley (27 disposals, 5 goals) and Franklin (5 goals) didn’t need much encouragement - they hammered 10 goals between them, including some sublime set shots from the sidelines.
Franklin’s complete disregard for ineffective defenders Jeremy McGovern and Will Schofield culminated with an extraordinary drop punt from an acute angle after the final siren, that saw the superstar forward engulfed by his jubilant teammates.
"To do what we did today with five or six regular players out of the senior team to start with, including three or four real key midfielders, and to not have any rotations really except for one person on the bench for the second half, was just fantastic," head coach John Longmire said.
"We were down Jones, Kennedy and Cunningham going into the game, and we had young midfielders like Hewett and Florent, and a couple others who didn't rotate at all in the second half - Clarke I don't think came off in two and a half quarters.
"To play this game the way it is, it's a tough game, and to be able to run it out like that is fantastic.
"You couldn't use a runner, you've got three on the bench that can't come back on, and you've got the one, and you're trying to do things, the players sorted it out really well."
Prior to the game, much had been made of West Coast’s key outs - captain Shannon Hurn and gun midfielder Elliot Yeo.
But it was lowly Sydney’s energy and clever possession game which denied the Eagles their free-flowing run and control.
They also made the most of their inside 50’s, scoring almost every time they entered the attacking zone.
And the Swans showed that even with three men down for half a game, it was not going to stop them scoring - or fighting - for some red and white pride in front of 36,000 delighted supporters, during a testing AFL season.
For West Coast, who generally lacked inspiration and polish, Dom Sheed (26 disposals) and Andrew Gaff (28 disposals) tried hard, while Josh Kennedy kicked three goals and Lewis Jetta was solid in defence.
Now 4-8, the Swans enter their bye weekend with some relief and the opportunity to rest up, before a Friday night encounter with another traditional foe, Hawthorn, on 21 June.
SYDNEY 4.1 9.6 14.7 18.8 (116) WEST COAST 3.2 6.3 7.8 10.11 (71)
Defender Colin O'Riordan suffered a concussion from a Willie Rioli sling tackle early in the second quarter, and was assisted from the ground. Backman Jackson Thurlow received a huge hit from Eagles ruckman Nathan Vardy as he was disposing the ball not long after O'Riordan was concussed. He returned to the field in the third quarter, but then left the field and didn't return with a suspected concussion. Fellow defender Aliir Aliir had his thumb restrapped in the third quarter, while Jarrad McVeigh left the field in the third quarter with a hamstring strain.
SYDNEY: Papley (5), Franklin (5), Reid (3), McCartin, Rose, Hewett, Sinclair, Parker WEST COAST: Kennedy (3), Ryan (2), Rioli (2), McGovern, Darling, Waterman