Sydney remain firmly entrenched in the AFL’s top four after escaping with a 21-point win over a spirited Lions on Sunday night in Brisbane.
The Swans were outplayed in patches by the Lions during their 10.10 (70) to 7.7 (49) victory in front of a Gabba crowd of 16,936, but did enough to remain in third place on the ladder.
Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett returned to the Swans’ line-up and kicked three goals each, while Dayne Zorko booted three for the Lions in a lively display.
Pearce Hanley finished with 33 touches and one goal in his 100th AFL game.
The Lions matched the Swans in contested possessions (140 each), clearances (40 to 42) and inside-50s (54 to 55), although Sydney’s experience told in the end as the Lions failed to kick a goal in the final term.
Brisbane were at full strength with the return of Hanley, Daniel Merrett and captain Tom Rockliff, taking a deserved seven-point lead into quarter-time courtesy of goals to Dayne Beams and Zorko.
However, they were dealt a blow late in the first term when defender Darcy Gardiner dislocated his shoulder after landing awkwardly while attempting to spoil a mark.
The quarter-time siren didn’t assist the hosts with Brisbane’s midfield dominance fading during the second term, as Sydney’s Josh Kennedy (40 disposals) and Dan Hannebury (34 disposals) began to exert their influence over the gallant Lions.
Four goals without reply took the Swans out to a 17-point lead late in the second quarter before Zorko slotted another major to reduce the deficit to two straight kicks.
Jarrad McVeigh’s goal two minutes after the main break seemed to lull the Swans into a false sense of security and the Lions pounced on their complacency with the next four majors.
Jed Adcock’s goal at the 16-minute mark of the third term had Brisbane in front by five points, although their lead could have been greater had Brent Staker converted two golden goal-scoring opportunities.
Two quick goals to Franklin restored Sydney’s lead as they took a seven-point advantage heading into the final quarter. Franklin and Tippett both booted their third goals in the last quarter as the Swans held on for a scrappy 21-point victory.