Swans smash Magpies to reach AFL decider
Sydney have smashed their seven-year hoodoo against a tired but valiant Collingwood to surge into next Saturday’s AFL grand final on a high.
The Swans dominated for the best part of three quarters to build a 42-point lead, endured a rally which brought Collingwood within 20 points, then steadied to win Friday night’s preliminary final 13.18 (96) to 10.10 (70) at ANZ Stadium.
The Swans’ typically ferocious tackling, defensive scrapping and contested ball-winning laid the platform, with bullocking midfielder Josh Kennedy leading the way with the grunt work, along with two goals.
But it was the dazzling pace and skill of Lewis Jetta, who kicked three goals, which thrilled the 57,156-strong crowd.
And the nerve of Craig Bird, who slotted a much-needed steadier midway through the last term, after Mitch Morton and Adam Goodes had both missed simpler chances, ensured victory.
Sydney will meet the winner of Saturday’s Hawthorn-Adelaide MCG encounter in their first grand final appearance since 2006.
The win, which gave rugged veteran Jude Bolton a joyful 300th AFL game, was Sydney’s first over Collingwood since 2005, their most recent premiership year.
The Swans showed the clear benefits of their 13-day break since their last game, compared to six for the Magpies, who also had to deal with the emotion of Thursday’s funeral for former teammate John McCarthy.
Sydney scored 2.2 before Collingwood scored, as they built a 20-point quarter-time lead.
The term was capped by some magic from Jetta, who first set up Lewis Roberts-Thomson for a major then provided the night’s highlight with a three-bounce run from the wing to goal from close range.
The Swans had a scare in the first term, when All Australian defender Ted Richards limped off with a knee injury, but he returned to play out the final three terms and lead a dominant Sydney defence.
Up by 27 points at the main break, the Swans looked home when Jetta kicked the first two goals of the third quarter, the first from a brilliant banana kick.
But the Magpies fought, veteran Chris Tarrant goaling in what proved his last AFL game to spark a run of four majors either side of the last break.
But after some nervous Swans’ misses, Bird’s 45m settler killed the Collingwood resistance.
For Collingwood, midfielders Scott Pendlebury and Dayne Beams battled hard, as did ruckman Darren Jolly, while Travis Cloke kicked 3.2.© AAP 2013