Sydney advanced to the Grand Final after getting up, by just a single point, over a plucky Collingwood, in an exhilarating and tense finale, before a sold-out SCG.
A finish that brought back memories of the last time the venue hosted a Prelim, back in 1996, when the great Tony Lockett kicked a behind, after the siren, to win it.
It will be the club’s fourth appearance at a Granny under the leadership of coach John Longmire (pictured below) who has done an amazing job during his 12 years in charge.
The Swans got off to a flyer, scoring the opening four goals of the contest, and were dominant in the first half which gave them a decent lead at the main interval.
However, despite that, you just knew that the Magpies, who set a new AFL/VFL record this season for close wins (nine by just a single figure margin) and really been the team to watch, would mount a comeback at some stage and so it proved.Embed from Getty Images
They were forced to take risks but got some real momentum behind them, in the latter stages, and scored three consecutive majors to get with three points.
It set up a nail-biting and must-watch viewing at the end in which the hosts came under siege and had to defend for their lives, rushing through two behinds in the last two minutes, before getting over the line by the very smallest of margins.
Speaking on ground to Channel Seven, Lance Franklin (pictured above), in the last of his nine-year contract, said “Wow. What a finish! We knew they were going to come and they did. We were lucky to hang on but you just have to win and you are into a grand final. It’s been an unbelievable season.”
He added “That’s what we play footy for. We have to play Geelong next week who are an unbelievable team. We will have to be at our best to win next week.”Embed from Getty Images
Team mate Isaac Heeney (pictured above) said “I’m a bit stressed still. My heart is still going. That was unbelievable. They have been that side who keeps coming back, they have done that all year. We almost blew it but we held on. The Swans fans, it is an amazing club and culture. Bring on next week, I can’t wait.”
It was a big night for defender Paddy McCartin; the defender’s career looked over at the end of 2019 following his release from St.Kilda due to a series of concussions.
The Swannies gave him a chance to resurrect it through their VFL side in 2021 before making the decision to sign him on as a rookie at the start of this campaign.Embed from Getty Images
Talking to Fox Footy, the 26-year-old (pictured above) said “I can’t believe it! From where I was, to where I am now – it’s crazy mate. I can’t believe it. To start the year on the rookie list, if you had of told me I would be playing in a grand final I wouldn’t have believed you. I feel pretty lucky. Hopefully we can really enjoy it.”
He went on “It’s been a real rollercoaster. Two years ago I was nowhere really and struggling a lot. If you’d of told me, even this time last year, I wouldn’t have believed you. This is a very special footy club to give me this opportunity and an opportunity to play with my brother (Tom); I feel very lucky. I love him to bits so to share this week with him will be amazing.”
Geelong booked their place in the showpiece event with a dominant performance as they hammered Brisbane, by 71 points, in front of a crowd of 77,677 at the MCG.
Fielding the oldest team in AFL/VFL history with an average age of 28 years, 173 days (including 10 players aged more than 30), they put on an absolute masterclass.
The bookies favourites and minor premiers are through to their sixth Grand Final in the last 15 years and, on this evidence, it would be hard to back against them.
It was a result that made it 15 consecutive victories while keeping the Lions to their second lowest score in finals history and worst score in the post-season since 2000.
There had been some commentary about the pre-finals bye, which meant it was only their second game in 25 days, but it certainly didn’t show as they got the momentum behind them in the second quarter and it was effectively over by the end of the third.Embed from Getty Images
Captain Joel Selwood (pictured above) equalled Michael Tuck’s record, in playing his 39th finals game, which he will break next Saturday on the biggest stage of them all.
Tom Hawkins (pictured below) booted four majors to take his career tally to 729, surpassing both Wayne Carey and Peter Hudson, to move up to 19th on the all-time AFL goalkickers.Embed from Getty Images
Speaking, in the rooms, to Cats Media on the achievement he said “It’s a lovely stat but the fact of the matter is that each year, as part of the Geelong footy club, I get to play finals. This is my 16th season and there is a lot of hard work to get into a final series and ultimately to get to where we are now. I have just been so fortunate to be part of such a successful group for so long.”
On reaching the big one, he replied “It’s a pretty special feeling. Certainly a wonderful way to get there. We played some brilliant footy tonight, both offensively and defensively and our system worked very well. So very pleased.”
Patrick Dangerfield (pictured below) (28 disposals, 22 kicks, 16 contested possessions, 9 marks, 8 clearances and two goals) was in devastating form and standout best on ground.Embed from Getty Images
Talking to Channel Seven, post-match, the 8x All-Australian said “We feel like we have been building and it is not just one player, it has been such a strength of ours all year, if one is down, the next stands up and that has been our mantra.”
He continued “It is a credit to our coaching staff, they have been so balanced and not just with the wins, even when we have not played our best.”
Only dampener on the evening was the hamstring injury to Max Holmes, who kicked the winner in the Qualifying Final two weeks ago, as he was subbed off in the third quarter; whilst it didn’t look so good at the time, the club aren’t ruling him out.
Geelong 18.12 (120)
Brisbane 7.7 (49)
Sydney 14.11 (95)
Collingwood 14.10 (94)
AFL finals: Week 4 fixture – Grand Final
Saturday 24 September – Geelong v Sydney @ MCG (2.30pm)
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