Lance Franklin booted five goals as Sydney held off a gallant Brisbane to win a pulsating AFL clash by three points on Sunday.
What started as a scrapfest at a rain-drenched Gabba ended up resembling a shootout, with the lowly Lions providing a scare but the Swans ultimately holding their nerve to secure the 15.7 (97) to 14.10 (94) result.
Franklin’s brilliance was the difference, with three of his goals coming in the opening term as Sydney established a 22-point quarter-time lead, and the two others at crucial junctures in the contest.
“He’s had a really good start to the season. Whether he is kicking goals or giving them off or being up the ground, he’s fit, he’s moving, he’s getting around the ground really well,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
But Longmire admitted his side were somewhat fortunate to win a match in which they were outscored for the last three quarters.
A vastly-improved Brisbane were in the hunt right until the dying stages but lacked the class and poise to finish the game off, with a crucial Luke Parker mark and goal with a minute-and-a-half left sealing Sydney’s fifth win of the season.
“Brisbane were terrific. They played a really hard, good, consistent brand throughout most of the game and did the basics probably a little bit better than us,” Longmire said.
Sydney move to outright third on the ladder, behind second-placed Geelong on percentage and undefeated top side North Melbourne by four points.
But Brisbane (1-5) will draw plenty of positives from their performance in the sort of game that might have blown out to a far heavier defeat 12 months ago.
The clearances battle was almost a dead heat and they only had 19 fewer contested possessions than the Swans, with Dayne Zorko (33 disposals), vice-captain Pearce Hanley (24 disposals, two goals) and the hard-nosed Mitch Robinson (19 contested touches) among their best.
The Lions of old would have rolled over under the circumstances but instead they nagged Sydney almost to death in front of 14,646 fans.
“The loss hurts, we’re up against a good opposition and didn’t get the result. We were good in a lot of areas but they get the points, that’s the way it goes,” Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch said.
“I thought we were hard to play against today and I want to be that every week. (But) I don’t want to be the coach that sits there every week just to reward us doing the role playing stuff.”
Parker and young midfielder George Hewett both kicked three goals apiece for the Swans, with Hewett bagging all of his in the first quarter.
Their best on-baller was Daniel Hannebery, who collected 33 possessions – more than half of them contested – and made an impressive 12 tackles.