Channel Seven presenter and AFL grand final master of ceremonies Basil Zempilas has once again copped the ire of footy fans around the country.
Sydney have rallied sensationally after a slow first quarter, to run into half time well clear of an inaccurate Hawthorn in the 2012 AFL grand final.
Both sides started with the intensity expected of grand finals, with heavy tackling and plenty of bodies around the ball.
First-goal markets would have had long odds on the ice-breakers from each side, with Xavier Ellis getting the Hawks’ first in the seventh minute of play, before Nick Malceski hit back with a curling snap from deep in the forward pocket.
The Hawks looked the smoother of the two sides early, but Sydney was offered a number of reprieves.
First Lance Franklin hit the post after being played in by a blazing Cyril Rioli run, having already missed an early set shot. More set shots were missed, including big ruckman David Hale pushing wide from 20 metres.
A closed-down, low-scoring game was always going to be to the Swans advantage, and as the misses racked up, you could sense the nervousness creeping into the minds of brown and gold supporters.
The Swans commitment to the contest and the ball couldn’t have been summed up better than by Dan Hannebery, one of Sydney’s revelations of the year, as he backed into a marking contest on defensive fifty to be absolutely flattened, but somehow hold onto the mark.
It was Hawthorn who found the next moment of inspiration though, as Franklin marked outside fifty and finally found his radar switched on, curling a long shot just inside the near post.
But Lewis Jetta provided some inspiration of his own, collecting the crumbs from a defensive marking contest, then surging down wing with a four-bounce effort and a series of sprints.
Reaching half forward, he enabled Goodes to lift the ball inside fifty, but Craig Bird mark and shot missed to the left.
Lewis Roberts-Thompson missed another set shot moments later, and the Hawks swept the ball down the other end for Luke Breust, another 2012 revelation, to roll the ball home, end over end. Not thirty seconds later, following a quick clearance, Jack Gunston snapped from 48 metres and had another.
The gap was suddenly 19 points, and quarter time couldn’t come quick enough for the Swans – indeed, it just saved them, as another Hawthorn clearance with seconds to go saw Franklin snap a goal, but beaten by the siren.
But the Swans regathered their composure at the break, and came out fiercely in the early minutes. First Kennedy cleared the goal-line pack with a long roost, then Goodes showed his class with a gorgeous flat pass to find Kieran Jack just outside the goalsquare.
Not long afterward, Jarrad McVeigh repeated the dose, goaling from close range with a checkside kick on a tight angle. Suddenly the Swans were back within a point.
Goodes headed off for help from the trainers with a calf complaint, just as he was starting to impose himself on the contest.
But his absence wasn’t immediately an issue, with Sydney’s massive ruck duo of Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke made their presence felt around the ground, then the move of the game so far saw Sydney rush from full-back to Reid at centre half forward, whose raking kick sailed cleanly through.
Suddenly the Swans were away. Hale missed another set shot, then Goodes, returning to the field, fed the crumbs of his own spilled mark at full forward out to Morton, who ran around until he found himself clear to snap another.
All of a sudden it was Sydney by 10, and had Reid not butchered an easy mark on attacking 50, it could have been more.
The Morton scenario repeated just four minutes later, when the forward was again fed the ball from a Goodes marking contest, and again snapped truly.
Hawthorn’s half was summed up when Franklin marked in the pocket with 90 seconds to play, and the chance to bring them back within reach by half time.
Instead, he pushed the shot across the face and out on the full. Clinton Young then had a flying shot from the botched attempt at a clearance, and missed as well.
At half time, it is Hawthorn 4.6.30, Sydney 7.4.46 – only sixteen points the difference, but the bookies’ favourites will need to shake off the shakes in the second half to challenge a determined Harbour side.