AN undermanned and inspired Sydney has turned North Melbourne’s Hobart fortress into a house of pain, prevailing by five points in a spiteful AFL encounter.
Already missing Lance Franklin, Sydney scratched Josh Kennedy (quad) from Saturday night’s game, lost Zak Jones to a hamstring injury before halftime and were without young star Isaac Heeney for much of the third quarter.
But the Swans turned the game on its head in a dominant second term and withstood a gripping Kangaroos comeback to run out 11.11 (77) to 10.12 (72) winners.
Fielding a side containing 11 players with less than 50 games’ experience, Sydney stood up in all of the key moments – best exemplified by Callum Mills’ sensational rundown tackle on Shaun Higgins to deny North a late victory.
Tom Papley was electric for Sydney with four goals, while George Hewett (29 disposals) and Luke Parker (28) were enormous in the midfield.
And after a week of fierce scrutiny for his bizarre goalpost climbing and umpire sledging antics, Dane Rampe held Ben Brown to one goal in a crucial contribution.
North had arrived in Hobart confident of maintaining their dominance in the Tasmanian capital but again couldn’t match John Longmire’s men.
The Roos have lost just five games at Blundstone Arena and three of those have come against the Swans.
With North president Ben Buckley and chief executive Carl Dilena watching in dismay from the stands, the Kangaroos conceded seven goals to two in the second quarter as the Swans began to impose themselves in the middle.
Officials were kept busy throughout the ill-tempered clash and tensions threatened to boil over when Lewis Melican nudged Mason Wood into the goalpost after he kicked a major, prompting a furious remonstration from Cam Zurhaar.
Sydney led by 32 points near the end of the third quarter before North struck back, with the unlikely figure of Robbie Tarrant among their late goalkickers.
But just when it looked like North had a pulse, Jy Simpkin ran into an open goal, opted for a dribble kick and missed the simplest of opportunities.
The Roos were well served by Jack Ziebell (35 disposals), Ben Cunnington and Jared Polec but Higgins was well down on his usual impact.
Parker will face match review scrutiny for an elbow to the head of Ziebell in the second quarter, although the Kangaroos skipper played out the game.
© AAP 2019
SYDNEY 1.4 8.6 10.10 11.11 (77)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.1 5.3 6.7 10.12 (72)
Goals: Sydney: T Papley 4 O Florent 2 I Heeney J Dawson J Lloyd N Blakey T McCartin. North Melbourne: K Turner 2 B Brown B Cunnington C Zurhaar J Polec J Simpkin M Wood N Larkey R Tarrant.
Umpires: Ray Chamberlain, Brendan Hosking, John Howorth.
Official Crowd: 12,799 at Blundstone Arena.