Sydney’s Ben Ronke evades Jay Kennedy-Harris. Picture: Michael Klein
Sydney’s Ben Ronke evades Jay Kennedy-Harris. Picture: Michael Klein

Swans back in the flag race

INSPIRED by injured teammate Alex Johnson, Sydney have reignited  their premiership campaign with a nine-point win over top-four aspirants Melbourne to move up to sixth spot on the ladder.

Three goals from Tom Papley and two each from Lance Franklin and Isaac Heeney did the damage after they lost Johnson to yet another ACL injury and defender Nick Smith to a hamstring both before half-time.

Sadly, Johnson's heroic comeback after a 2136-day absence lasted less than a quarter into it's second game when he fell awkwardly late in the first quarter.

The injury stunned the massive MCG crowd who immediately sensed what had happened and, in a fitting gesture, both groups of supporters applauded him as he was helped off the field.

It also put Johnson's teammates on the back foot as well as the Demons kicked two quick goals to take an 11-point lead at quarter-time.

During the quarter-time break Johnson didn't stay on the bench but went to his teammates to encourage them.

Isaac Heeney soars over Jesse Hogan. Picture: AFL Media
Isaac Heeney soars over Jesse Hogan. Picture: AFL Media

His words of motivation certainly worked as the Swans kicked seven goals straight in the second term to set up a 21-point lead at the long break before they stretched it to 28 at three-quarter time.

Melbourne kicked the only three goals of the last term but it wasn't enough.

Heeney was enormous throughout the match with two goals and 19 possessions but his effort in the last quarter was huge when the Demons were on the charge.

He also provided one of the highlights of the game in the last quarter when he flew over Melbourne full forward Jesse Hogan for a mark of the year contender.

The Swans midfield of skipper Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, George Hewett, Harry Cunningham and Kieren Jack were outstanding against one of the best onball groups in the league.

Heeney hauls down a mark of the year contender. Picture: AFL Media
Heeney hauls down a mark of the year contender. Picture: AFL Media

Ruckman Callum Sinclair also fought bravely to nullify Max Gawn's damage.

In his first game for a month, Dan Hannebery made an impressive and welcome return from a calf injury to pick up 26 possessions, including nine contested.

Ollie Florent did well when moved to defence in the second half to cover for Smith.

Aliir Aliir was outstanding in the first half as he cleaned up everything that came near him.

Dane Rampe and Jarrad McVeigh were also pivotal in the backline as they held the highest scoring team to just 78 points.

Although the Demons weren't helped by their wayward kicking for goal as they finished with 10.18 for the day.

Alex Johnson with teammates Nic Newman after the game. Picture: Michael Klein
Alex Johnson with teammates Nic Newman after the game. Picture: Michael Klein

MELBOURNE 2.6 3.12 7 .14 10.18 (78)

SYDNEY 1.1 7.2 13.6 13.9 (87)

GOALS

Demons: vandenBerg 3, T.McDonald 2, Petracca, Hogan, Pedersen, Garlett, Jones

Swans: Papley 3, Heeney 2, Franklin 2, Cunningham, Hayward, Hannebery, Dawson, Kennedy, McCartin

BEST

Demons: Brayshaw, Tyson, Harmes, Oliver, Salem

Swans: Lloyd, Heeney, Newman, Aliir, Franklin, Kennedy, Hewett

INJURIES

Demons: TBC

Swans: Johnson (knee), Smith (back)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Nicholls, Fleer

Official crowd: 51,424 at the MCG

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