LANCE Franklin and an undermanned Sydney returned to their potent best on Sunday at the SCG, beating West Coast by 45 points in what coach John Longmire dubbed one of the proud club’s best wins.
Franklin and Tom Papley each kicked five goals as the resilient Swans started strongly and answered every challenge from the reigning premiers, prevailing 18.8 (116) to 10.11 (71).
Injured backmen Jarrad McVeigh (left hamstring), Colin O’Riordan (concussion) and Jackson Thurlow (concussion) all played no part in the second half.
Despite being down to one fit man on the bench, Longmire’s team dug deep to make co-captain Dane Rampe’s 150th game one to remember.
“There’s some blokes who’ll struggle to walk to their car tonight,” Longmire quipped.
“You just sit there and cross your fingers a bit.
“It’s probably one of the better wins we’ve had – not just for the season. I’d struggle to recall a time when we’ve had three down at halftime … and still finished as strongly as what we did.
“(There were) five or six regular players out of the senior team to start with, including three or four of our key midfielders.”
Co-captain Josh Kennedy headlines a long list of Sydney’s stars set to return after the mid-season bye, which Longmire admits might have come at a good time.
Rampe, Jake Lloyd, Callum Mills, Luke Parker, George Hewett and Isaac Heeney all played key roles in Sydney’s fourth win for 2019.
Franklin enjoyed his most-productive outing of the season, as did the Swans, while Sam Reid booted three goals to extend the Eagles’ miserable streak at the SCG.
“I’ve had a a couple of down weeks. It was good to hit the scoreboard but what a win,” Franklin told Fox Footy.
“It really shows a lot of ticker.”
West Coast, squandering a golden chance to claim second spot on the ladder, have lost nine-straight games at the venue in a horror stretch dating back to 1999.
“We’re really disappointed tonight … our defenders lowered their colours,” Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
The visitors, who sorely missed injured captain Shannon Hurn and two-time club champion Elliot Yeo, reduced the Swans’ lead to 19 points early in the third term but couldn’t get any closer.
Franklin, who underwent off-season groin surgery and missed rounds 6-9 because of a hamstring injury, set the tone when he booted Sunday’s opening goal after marking on the lead.
The 32-year-old, featuring in his 298th match, repeated the dose in the second term when he broke free from Jeremy McGovern and slotted the subsequent set shot from beyond the 50m arc.
The superstar’s fourth goal was textbook Buddy, coming after he accepted Daniel Menzel’s pinpoint pass then buffeted would-be tackler Tom Cole.
Franklin also twice dished off goals to Papley.
“There’s no mystery,” Longmire said of Franklin’s return to form.
“He’s been able to train more.”
© AAP 2019
SYDNEY 4.1 9.6 14.7 18.8 (116)
WEST COAST 3.2 6.3 7.8 10.11 (71)
Goals: Sydney: L Franklin 5 T Papley 5 S Reid 3 C Sinclair G Hewett J Rose L Parker T McCartin. West Coast: J Kennedy 3 L Ryan 2 W Rioli 2 J Darling J McGovern J Waterman.
Best: Sydney: L Franklin J Lloyd T Papley D Rampe L Parker C Mills. West Coast: J Redden D Sheed B Sheppard L Ryan L Jetta.
Injuries: Sydney: C O’Riordan (concussion) J McVeigh (hamstring) J Thurlow (concussion). West Coast: Nil.
Official Crowd: 36,640 at SCG.