Sydney coach John Longmire admits he had to switch to plan B after star forward Lance Franklin’s injury scare in Hobart.
But his back-up strategy worked, producing a nine-point victory over North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon to send the Swans to the top of the AFL ladder.
In overcast conditions at Bellerive Oval, Sydney led at every break and finished 12.13 (85) to 10.16 (76) winners.
Franklin left the ground in the 13th minute with a hip complaint after a collision with Kangaroo Scott Thompson.
“We had to change it up a little bit different once Lance got hurt,” Longmire said.
The shift brought forward some of the Swans midfielders, with nine players booting goals as Franklin took a back seat, managing just one behind.
Gary Rohan, Jarrad McVeigh and Dan Hannebery finished with two goals each.
Luke Parker earned a nod from the coach with his 31 disposals, as did rover Tom Mitchell and half-back Callum Mills.
Franklin returned after a short absence, but his comeback was brief before again heading to the sheds for treatment.
“He’s OK,” Longmire said.
“He was sore there for a bit of the game, clearly, that’s why he ended up coming off twice.
“But I thought in the last quarter he actually contributed pretty well.”
The knock isn’t expected to prevent Franklin playing against Richmond next Saturday.
Longmire wants greater consistency from his side, which was dominated at times by North, including through most of the second term.
“We can improve a bit on today’s performance and that’s what we will be trying to do next week – trying to make sure we keep sharpening up all areas of our game,” he said.
“But you want to get to this point of the year with that in front of you, which is to be able to control your own destiny … in the last game of the year at the SCG and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
The Kangaroos have managed just three wins from the past 11 rounds, and coach Brad Scott was blunt in his assessment.
“We weren’t able to capitalise on our opportunities well enough,” he said, adding that three easy goals they failed to kick proved costly.
The game ended their streak of eight victories at their second home in Hobart, and also likely puts Thompson back on the injury list.
The veteran defender, on his return from a groin complaint, left the field at the end of the first quarter, and was later seen on the sideline holding ice on his groin.
Stalwart Brent Harvey was the standout for the Kangaroos, finishing with three goals, two behinds and 32 disposals.