Sydney Swans stun Demons in AFL thriller

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The Lance Franklin-less Sydney Swans have inflicted a second straight AFL defeat on Melbourne after edging the reigning premiers in a 12-point thriller at the MCG.

Even without suspended superstar Franklin, the Swans were able to recover from conceding the first five goals of Saturday night's game.

And trailing by 13 points early in the last quarter, the Swans rallied despite a colossal performance from Demons captain Max Gawn.

Young gun Errol Gulden slotted a clutch goal from the boundary to put the Swans in front with five minutes remaining.

Small forward Tom Papley sealed the deal when he snapped a free kick from the boundary a couple of minutes later as the Swans prevailed 10.13 (73) to 9.7 (61).

After beating Richmond at the MCG last year, it now means Sydney have secured away wins against the reigning premiers two seasons in a row.

"It was a beauty," Swans coach John Longmire said.

"Our blokes have been really good this year as far as keep going at it ... even when things aren't going our way.

"I just admire the players and their ability to back themselves in and keep persisting. We've done it a few times this year."

Sydney move to 8-4, backing up last week's nail-biting victory over fellow finals contenders Richmond, while the Demons drop to 10-2 after losing consecutive games for the first time since 2020.

The Swans were behind by as much as 26 points, but they stepped up to boot five goals to two during a commanding second-quarter performance.

Young tall forward Logan McDonald booted three goals in an electrifying display, while veteran Sam Reid turned back the clock with one of the best efforts of his 168-game career.

Star midfielder Callum Mills was inspirational, as were brothers Tom and Paddy McCartin down back.

Melbourne, again, looked nowhere near as formidable without All-Australian defender Steven May marking everything that came inside-50.

The Demons had appeared almost unbeatable until May was concussed early in last week's loss to Fremantle, underlining his standing as the most important player to any AFL team.

"The game swung on momentum a lot during the night, we had our momentum in the third quarter but we weren't able to maximise," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.

"It was a good game, a tough game of footy and they just did it for longer."

Fellow key backman Harrison Petty struggled through the match with strapping on his knee and was assessed after copping a big knock to his shoulder.

Premiership forward Tom McDonald was a late withdrawal due to a foot issue and he faces a possible extended period on the sidelines.

In better news for Melbourne, dashing defender Christian Salem made a successful return to the AFL in his first game since injuring his knee in round one.

The Swans have the bye next week, while Melbourne have a nine-day break before facing Collingwood in the Queen's Birthday blockbuster.

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