Skipper's Giant effort stops Buddy, Swans
PHIL Davis did what he has tried to do for years.
Operation stop Buddy hasn't always worked - he knows that.
But in Saturday's elimination final at the SCG, the mission was executed with honours.
As the Giants won their way through to the competition's last six, brushing Sydney aside with a relentless 49-point win, Davis reached hero status among the Giants faithful.
Davis followed Franklin so closely - and with such precision - it's not beyond the realms of possibility that he could pop up in Buddy's Sunday morning acai bowl.
It was a job and a half on the biggest stage while his teammate Toby Greene made his return with a bang and proved his imperativeness to the Giants up the other end.
What a double act this pair will be in coming weeks.
Davis, 28, kept his planned tactics under his hat this week. He knew what he had to do, and even after keeping Franklin goalless and virtually out of the game until halftime, wasn't convinced his job was done.
"If there's one thing I know about Buddy, he's a f…ing great player," Davis said on Channel 7 at halftime.
"Sorry (for swearing). He can do a big second half, so I have to be careful."
It took until the 19-minute mark of the third quarter for Franklin to outmark his counterpart convincingly, and missed the subsequent shot at goal. The frustration of the recently-anointed All-Australian captain could be seen from as far as the famous bridge.
This should have been his time, the big game player.
But as Davis went about his business, the power forward looked troubled and lacked his usual force.
Franklin is now five years into that much-touted nine-year deal in the Harbour City, and goalless in his last two finals. A premiership there will elude him until at least his sixth, with the Swans' hopes of a tilt at a third-straight preliminary final now dashed.
Greene, 24, had been sidelined since Round 20 with a hamstring injury but his return was seamless and in his typical style.
There was flair, some fire and plenty of forward attack with his first of three goals banged through after a Dustin Martin-style don't argue and a snap on his right foot off one step.
He came under fire for his marking style - again - three times appearing to kick out his foot in completing his marking action.
The third, that flushed Nic Newman, resulted in deafening boos around the SCG.
"Toby Greene has to be really careful when he's putting his feet up in a kicking motion in those marking contests," AFL Hall of Fame member Terry Wallace said on SEN.
It's a defensive mechanism, it's been said. But it's a terrible look.
His work in attack is crucial to the Giants - that's evident, and the numbers don't lie.
When Greene has played season, the Giants haven't lost and average 95 points per game.
Without him, it's a 7-8 record and almost 20 points less.
If he continues in this form, the Giants will remain a force to be reckoned with this September.
On a night that was the peak of finals footy - hard, contested play on a sudden death stage - Sydney were unable to withstand the manic pressure and once the dam wall broke, there was no stemming the flow.
To be goalless for two and a half quarters will ensure questions.
Josh Kelly's 100th game ended prematurely, with the star midfielder sidelined for three quarters with a knee injury.
Kelly is no certainty to play next week but coach Leon Cameron has refused to rule him out just yet.
Cameron said early signs were that Kelly may have injured the meniscus in his right knee - a piece of cushioning cartilage that, when torn, results in pain to twist.
"How bad that is, it could be minor," Cameron said.
"We're not ruling out next week. Once we saw that he was struggling to run, we thought, well, no, we can't risk him.
"It was the right choice. Touch wood we'll get some information on him (today).
"He's an important part of our footy club and it'd be great to see him get up next week."
Two years ago these two sides met in the first week of the finals. Same city, different venue. Same teams, different fate for the loser. Same brutality and the same result with the city's little brother again surging to a rampant victory.
The Ferrari is purring, and ready to accelerate. Look out if you are in its path.