Sydney Swans capture fifth AFL premiership
The Sydney Swans have upset the Hawthorn Hawks in an AFL grand final thriller, thanks to a brilliant sealing snap from defender Nick Malceski.
The Swans won a see-sawing, enthralling contest 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81) in front of 99,683 fans in mostly fine conditions, despite the dire pre-match weather forecast.
Valiant Hawthorn midfielder Brad Sewell, who was possibly his side's best, missed two snaps for goal in the dying minutes, the first of which would have levelled the scores and the second which would have given the Hawks the lead.
Malceski, who had kicked Sydney's first goal from a near-impossible angle, then shut the door with another stunning snap with 34 seconds left on the clock.
It was every bit as nail-biting as the Swans' last premiership, when they beat West Coast by four points in 2005 to break a 72-year flag drought, with Saturday's win taking their tally to five premierships.
Only four Swans - Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Jude Bolton and Ryan O'Keefe - playing on Saturday were part of the club's 2005 flag, with Malceski one of another three that played in their one-point grand final loss to West Coast the following year.
Swans midfielder Ryan O'Keefe won the Norm Smith Medal, picking up 28 touches and, just as significantly, notching 15 tackles to restrict Hawk midfield gun Sam Mitchell, who had an influential first term.
Dan Hannebery and former Hawk Josh Kennedy were also excellent for the Swans, Adam Goodes set up plenty of goals in attack while ex-Canada rugby union international Mike Pyke produced an inspired performance in the ruck.
Sydney kicked the last four goals of the match to turn around an 11-point deficit early in the last quarter.
The Hawks notched five behinds during that time and finished with five more scoring shots than the Swans.
Hawthorn's Lance Franklin, with 3.4 and another shot out on the full, was one of the culprits, although he could easily have been a match-winner after he fired the Hawks into the lead with an inspired third-term burst.
Jarryd Roughead kicked 0.3, while Jack Gunston hit the post with a crucial 25m set shot in the last term after Sydney's Adam Goodes had just scraped a bouncing snap through for a goal at the other end to put his side seven points clear.
The Swans had to overcome a 19-point first-change deficit, kicking the only six goals of the second term then the first two of the third to surge 28 points clear.
But the Hawks bounced back, largely through Franklin, who kicked two booming goals himself and set up another to Gunston as the Hawks kicked four in eight minutes to hit the front.
Mitchell gave away a costly 50m penalty late in the quarter, allowing Jarrad McVeigh to goal and regain the lead for Sydney.
The Hawks pushed 11 points clear within two-and-a-half minutes of the last quarter, through snaps to Luke Breust and David Hale, who both had strong games.
But they did not add another major, as the Swans clawed their way back level through goals to Hannebery and Kieren Jack, hit the lead with a rushed behind then stayed in front after Goodes snapped goal, set up by a Pyke contested mark.
The Swans became the third club to have won multiple premierships in the 2000s, joining Brisbane and Geelong, while the Hawks are yet to back up their 2008 flag.
FEATURES OF SYDNEY'S FIFTH AFL PREMIERSHIP
* Premierships: 1909, 1918, 1933, 2005, 2012
* Last three grand final margins: beat West Coast by 4 points (2005), lost to West Coast by one point (2006), beat Hawthorn by 10 points (2012)
* 2012 premiership players who played in previous grand finals
2005: Jude Bolton, Adam Goodes, Ryan O'Keefe, Lewis Roberts-Thomson
2006: Bolton, Goodes, Nick Malceski, Jarrad McVeigh, O'Keefe, Ted Richards, Roberts-Thomson.
(Rhyce Shaw played in Collingwood's 2003 losing grand final side)