How misfit Swans stunned the Cats
THEY were gone. Dead in the water. Cooked.
A bunch of misfits from Sydney missing their best player had managed to kick just five goals in three quarters and were behind by 22 points at the start of the last quarter.
That's the definition of cooked.
Well, it is for most teams but not for these Swans, who produced a remarkable final quarter comeback, kicking seven goals to one to pull off a stunning back-to-the-wall victory.
It continued their love of Geelong's Kardinia Park with Sydney having won its past three visits, but this one was extra special because of who was missing.
Lance "Buddy" Franklin, Dan Hannebery and Dean Towers were all ruled out on Thursday night because of injury.
First-gamer Ben Ronke and Robbie Fox were two of the inclusions and they ended up being unlikely heroes.
After a promising opening term where the Swans led by 15 points, they were completely outplayed by the Cats in the next two quarters.
The Buddy-less forward line only kicked one goal in that period of the game while the Cats piled on seven and looked in complete control.
The sixth-gamer took a hanger in the opening minute of the final term, converting the set shot from 20m.
Three minutes later Zak Jones slotted a tough shot on the run from deep in the pocket and suddenly the Swans' had a pulse.
Cory Gregson managed what everyone at the ground figured was the steadier at the six-minute mark, but it ended up being the only yelp the home side gave.
The Swans kicked the last five goals of the game through the no-name characters of Fox, Ronke and Will Hayward.
Ronke, a little terrier forward pocket, put them in front at the 16-minute mark with a brilliant quick kick out of the goal square.
Normally at this time Patrick Dangerfield or Joel Selwood does something heroic and the Cats find a way.
That never happened as it was Sydney's big names who were lifting, with captain Josh Kennedy and ruckman Callum Sinclair dominating the centre square.
Hayward and Fox kicked the next two goals and when Oliver Florent received a 50m penalty at the 24-minute mark to hand him an easy goal it was the Cats who were cooked.
The stats sheet told the story in the end.
Geelong simply ran out of gas with the Swans having 57 more possessions in the final stanza.
Kennedy was a key, returning to form in a stunning way, collecting 33 possessions that included 17 contested and 13 clearances.
Earlier it was obvious Sydney coach John Longmire didn't have much alternative but to wind back the clock to the boring old scragging Swans, the one's Andrew Demetriou famously called ugly.
The first quarter was a snapshot of the Paul Roos days that the former AFL boss was commentating on.
Sydney started with one loose in defence and strangled the life out of Geelong, which should have known what was coming but still didn't cope with it.
With no Franklin and Sam Reid, the Swans' forward line was as makeshift as they come with on-ballers Luke Parker and Isaac Heeney in the key positions.
The tallest player in the formation was Gary Rohan at 189cm.
They did the job initially with four goals and a 13-point lead in the first quarter but that was built on tackling pressure and a dominance around the ball led by Kennedy.
But was it going to be sustainable?
It had been for the Swans in the previous two visits to GMHBA Stadium where they'd won by 46 and 38 points respectively.
But that was with a full contingent and something resembling a forward line.
So when Geelong lifted its intensity and started to apply pressure in the second quarter, everything fell out of whack for the Swans.
They managed only one point in the second quarter as the home side piled on four goals.
The contested possession count told the story. At quarter time it was 41 each, at half-time Geelong led 91 to 72.
While the usual suspects were prominent - Dangerfield, Selwood and Mitch Duncan - the performance of the lesser names was warming the hearts of the locals.
Tim Kelly continues to enhance the reputation of recruiter Stephen Wells. Again the same question was asked about the 23-year-old - why hadn't anyone found him earlier?
His brilliant roving of a pack in the goal square late in the second quarter had class written all over it.
At three-quarter time Kelly had 18 possessions, 13 of them contested, more than anyone on the ground.
That was the story for the first three quarters.
The final quarter was a completely different story and in the end it wasn't Geelong's new faces but a bunch of Sydney nobodies who were getting the love they deserved.
SYDNEY 4.6 4.7 5.10 12.14 (86) def GEELONG 2.3 6.7 9.8 10.9 (69)
Sydney: W Hayward 3 B Ronke 2 O Florent 2 R Fox 2 G Rohan L Parker Z Jones
Geelong: J Parsons 2 T Hawkins 2 C Gregson J Selwood P Dangerfield R Stanley S Menegola T Kelly
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Shane McInerney, David Harris
Venue: Simonds Stadium