Sydney have survived a spirited challenge from Richmond and a controversial free kick after the siren to cement their place in the top-eight with a six-point triumph at the SCG.
The Swans overran the Tigers with 10 goals to three in a second-half surge after trailing by as much as 33 points to prevail 16.10 (106) to 15.10 (100) on Friday night.
Dion Prestia was awarded a free kick as the siren sounded and had a shot at goal that could have levelled the scores but was too far out to be a realistic chance to score.
The Tigers midfielder would have had the shot from within range if a 50m penalty was paid against Chad Warner for booting the ball into the crowd after the siren sounded, but the whistle had blown for a free kick to Prestia a split second earlier.
Lance Franklin led the Swans’ comeback to finish with five goals after being well held by Josh Gibcus in the first half, but will be sweating on the Match Review Officer’s verdict of a clash with Trent Cotchin.
Franklin received the Goodes-O’Loughlin Medal as best afield in the annual Marn Grook match at the SCG, the second time he has won the award, while Warner (27 disposals) continued his outstanding form and Luke Parker (26 touches, one goal) was also influential.
Co-captain Callum Mills (20) was a key to the second-half turnaround as a loose player in defence after the Swans leaked 11 goals to half-time despite leading the inside 50 count 32-22.
The Tigers resembled their premiership-winning best early as they played with frenetic intensity and kicked seven unanswered goals either side of quarter-time.
Jayden Short (22 disposals, two goals) and Prestia (24, one goal) led the way for the Tigers while Cotchin (25 touches) was inspirational throughout especially when standing under a Franklin leap late in the game and copping a heavy knock.
“It was an unbelievable act and it probably sums him up. He was always going to go,”
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said. “People can look at kicks, marks and handballs but you look at things like that, that’s what makes him the great player that he is. It was a solid hit, so he did well to finish the game and contribute as well.”
The Swans will be waiting on the MRO verdict of an earlier clash between Franklin and Cotchin in the second term.
Tempers flared as the pair came together while the Swans were lining up for a set shot on goal, Cotchin bumping into Franklin several times until the superstar forward lashed out with his right hand.
Cotchin clutched at his chin after the second swing from Franklin while the umpire awarded the Tigers’ former skipper a free kick for high contact.
“I was just disappointed we gave the free kick away, it was our second one where we’d done that,” Sydney coach John Longmire said.
“We had a couple of chances to go forward and have a shot at goal, twice, so that’s what I was disappointed about.”
It was a frustrating first half for Franklin as he was well held by Gibcus, playing just his ninth match. The 19-year-old restricted his more experienced opponent to three disposals and a goal before Franklin came to life after the main break to lead the Swans to a rousing victory.
Sydney face reigning premiers Melbourne at the MCG next Saturday night while Richmond have the week off with a bye.