A barnstorming Lance Franklin has lifted Sydney to a 20-point victory over GWS at Spotless Stadium, booting five goals and spearheading a second-half comeback that could have major ramifications in the race to the AFL finals.
The Swans trailed for most of the derby and were behind by 21 points during the third term of the low-scoring scrap when they lifted, inspired by Franklin for the umpteenth time this season.
Franklin kicked the sealer and consistently troubled GWS, as he did while earning the three Brownlow votes last year at the same venue.
The Swans’ yips threatened to prove costly but their speed and slick ball movement in the final quarter, in sharp contrast to an undermanned GWS outfit reeling from more injuries, meant they bagged the premiership points.
Sydney, written off as finals contenders three weeks ago, are now in the mix for a top-four spot after triumphing 11.14 (80) to 8.12 (60).
GWS co-captain Phil Davis, who played on Franklin during the first term, limped off the ground and into the rooms during the second quarter after being crunched in a marking contest by teammate Rory Lobb.
It proved a match-defining moment.
Davis played on after halftime despite the painful hip injury but was stationed up forward because he was so badly restricted, leaving Franklin to torment Jeremy Finlayson.
Franklin lifted his career tally to 917 goals to overtake Leigh Matthews and clamber into eighth spot on the VFL/AFL’s list of all-time goalkickers.
Lance Franklin moved past Leigh Matthews on the all-time goal kickers list in a comeback victory.
— AFL (@AFL) August 18, 2018
Franklin, who was awarded the Brett Kirk medal, has struggled to train this year because of a sore heel but continues to stand up in clutch moments for the Swans.
“It was a super win …they’re a tough team, they tackle hard,” Franklin told Fox Footy.
“I’m moving alright. I’m doing a little bit more than 20 minutes at training (like Swans coach John Longmire suggested a few weeks ago).
“The last three weeks I’ve been able to get out on the track, which has been good.”
Davis, Ryan Griffen (hamstring), Jeremy Finlayson (foot) and Daniel Lloyd (cut eye) kept GWS’s medical department, overworked throughout an injury-cursed season, busy.
The Giants, pushed to exhaustion during the past fortnight after finishing with no fit players on the bench against Carlton then one fit man on the bench against Adelaide, ran out of puff in the final term.
The rivals forecast a finals-like contest and they didn’t disappoint, piling on immense pressure and rattling each other in a series of big collisions.