Sydney have continued their strong start to the AFL season with an impressive 16-point win over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
The Kangaroos were competitive for most of Saturday night but were always going to struggle after giving up a 36-point lead in the second term when they conceded five straight goals.
The hosts were able to reduce the gap to 11 points with five minutes remaining but the Swans steadied to win 14.7 (91) to 10.15 (75).
“It was a tough contest. We knew they were going to come out and play some real tough footy,” said Lance Franklin, who booted four goals.
“We sort of let them back in but we dug deep at the end.”
The Swans’ ninth win of the year means they will enter the mid-season bye second on the ladder, just one win behind Fremantle.
Many of the hallmarks of Sydney’s 2015 season were on show.
Adam Goodes, who kicked three goals, was routinely booed when he went near the ball.
Franklin shone, the highlight being a remarkable one-step goal from beyond the 50m arc in the second term.
Young gun Luke Parker was dominant in the middle, grabbing 33 possessions, while Dan Hannebery demonstrated his courage by playing on after a knee to the back.
The Swans largely controlled proceedings but gave the opposition a sniff with some woeful turnovers.
It was no repeat of last year’s preliminary final, when North were embarrassed in a 71-point loss at ANZ Stadium.
This time the Kangaroos showed plenty of fight, despite losing control of the contest after quarter-time when forwards Drew Petrie and Lindsay Thomas were both off having injuries assessed.
Both returned and it was the latter who kicked North’s only goal of the second term, reducing the margin to 29 points at halftime.
Shaun Higgins booted the opening two goals of the third term but the Swans were able to build a 20-point lead at the final break.
Key forward Jarrad Waite had a chance to make it a one-goal game in the 21st minute of the last term but sprayed his only shot of the night.
Higgins also missed a set shot with a minute remaining, ending the Kangaroos’ hopes of a miraculous win.
North’s Todd Goldstein continued his impressive form, dominating the ruck contests and laying six tackles.
Ben Cunnington had a game-high 10 clearances but wasn’t able to get his side over the line.