John Longmire
John Longmire

They lost their spot on top of the ladder and still need one more win to ensure themselves top-two finish and home final in the first week of the finals but Sydney are confident Saturday night's narrow loss to Hawthorn is clear proof they are more than a match for the AFL's leading teams.

In a pulsating contest at the SCG, the Swans squandered an early 38-point lead before getting their noses in front by five-points with just over a minute left before two late goals saw the Hawks come away with a 15.12 (102) to 14.11 (95) win.

While the Swans have been entrenched in the top four for most of the campaign, the tight loss to the Hawks was their third home defeat at the hands of a top four side this season.

That record raises serious questions about whether Sydney can go to the level required to win the flag in September but coach John Longmire doesn't see it that way.

"To be able to play like we played tonight, I think will give our players a lot of confidence," Longmire said.

"We are disappointed we didn't get the win, we can do some things better but we played against an extremely talented team tonight and we had a real crack.

"Our players take enormous confidence out of being competitive and I think our players have improved a lot and I think that's the way we'd look at it.

"There's not much in it in the top group of teams, it is very, very close."

It's a belief that is shared by Ryan O'Keefe, who believes the finals-like intensity of the game with the Hawks will stand his side in good stead when the finals start.

"It was a ferocious game, it was really hot early and we'd rather that coming into finals - playing these types of games," O'Keefe said.

"We've got a lot of guys that probably haven't played a lot of finals and, just to give them that experience and that taste.

"It means when it comes to the crunch that it's not a huge jump in intensity."

Longmire said veteran midfielder Jude Bolton, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury, is a strong chance to return for next week's vital trip to Geelong.

"He trained really well this morning, the doc was even saying 'why don't you put him in as a late sub?'," the Swans boss said.

"He was bouncing around today. He had a really hard training session, and his movement was terrific.

"He needs to train this week under a bit more intensity with a few more players around and he's a chance.

"He's no certainty. He's got a few hurdles to jump over yet."


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