Sydney ended Adelaide’s AFL season with a clinical 36-point win at the SCG on Saturday night, setting up a preliminary final showdown with Geelong.
Lance Franklin and Tom Papley booted a combined eight goals in the semi-final as the Swans bounced back from their brutal loss to Greater Western Sydney and avoided a straight-sets exit.
Swans speedster Gary Rohan, who has endured a stop-start career since breaking his leg in 2012, was taken from the field on a stretcher after suffering a leg injury in the second quarter.
Co-captain Jarrad McVeigh was also laid low by a suspected calf strain but otherwise there was plenty for Sydney coach John Longmire to like ahead of Friday night’s preliminary final.
Especially in the first quarter, when the hosts delighted a crowd of 38,136.
The minor premiers prevailed 18.10 (118) to 12.10 (82) after seizing control of the contest in bedazzling fashion.
Sydney boasted a 25-point lead at quarter-time, having piled on 7.3 (45).
It was the club’s highest score in the opening term of a final and as many goals as they managed in four quarters at ANZ Stadium last week.
The Crows lifted but had left themselves with too much to do, especially after defenders Jake Lever and Daniel Talia were hurt in the opening half.
Lever failed to return after halftime. Talia played on but was clearly restricted by a groin injury.
Isaac Heeney, one of many Swans youngsters to struggle against GWS, produced the greatest game of his short career.
Heeney tallied 32 disposals, while midfielders Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery and Josh Kennedy were also magnificent for the hosts.
Franklin, held goal-less by the Giants last week, kicked 2.2 in the first quarter including a trademark Buddy showstopper from beyond the 50m arc that split the middle.
Franklin finished with four goals and at the other end, Sydney’s defence did a fine job on the league’s most potent forward line.
Adelaide aces Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch and Josh Jenkins combined for seven goals.
The goals and rotations dried up for both teams after quarter-time but the contest remained gripping.
Every time the visitors threatened to make serious inroads on the scoreboard, the Swans steadied.
The Crows reduced the margin to 19 points late in the third term when Betts slotted his second goal.
Papley, playing the 18th game of his career, snapped a near-instant reply at the other end.
Papley delivered another two clutch goals in the final quarter, with one coming after teammate Ben McGlynn was floored by a high bump from Crows ruckman Sam Jacobs.