The Sydney Swans have overcome an early injury worry for star forward Lance Franklin to post a nine-point AFL win over North Melbourne in Hobart.
The league’s second-placed Swans led at every break on Saturday afternoon at Bellerive Oval and finished 12.13 (85) to 10.16 (76) victors.
Franklin managed only one behind in the southern capital but was lucky to remain on the field after a first-term clash with Kangaroo Scott Thompson.
The veteran defender’s elbow met Franklin’s hip and sent him from the ground.
He returned for a short-lived comeback before again heading to the sheds holding his left hip.
While all eyes were on Franklin, who returned rejuvenated for the start of the second quarter, his teammates carried the Swans to the first break.
Luke Parker dominated with 16 disposals and seemed largely unchecked as Sydney went to the first break with a two-goal credit.
The pace was at times frenetic, including an even third term that produced five goals for each side, but the Swans maintained the upper hand.
Parker was instrumental for Sydney and finished with 31 disposals, while Jarrad McVeigh, Dan Hannebery and Gary Rohan scored two goals each, and Sam Naismith, who shared the centre with returning ruckman Kurt Tippett, recorded 26 hitouts.
North stalwart Brent Harvey booted three goals and two behinds with 32 disposals, while Nick Dal Santo and Ben Brown kicked two majors each.
Along with a bringing a further blow to the confidence of North Melbourne, who have won only two games in the past 10 rounds, Saturday’s game also cast further doubt over Thompson’s fitness.
Returning from a groin complaint, he was again sidelined from the start of the second term and was seen holding ice on his groin.