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Swans boost AFL top-four hopes, beat North

Sydney have enhanced their AFL top-four prospects with a comfortable 38-point victory over lowly North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.

The Swans predictably dominated Sunday’s contest but North, led by an equal career-high seven-goal haul from Nick Larkey, kicked accurately to prevent the visitors from streaking ahead in the first-half.

Sydney put their foot down in the third quarter, however, kicking six goals to three before cruising to their fifth-straight victory, 18.18 (126) to 13.10 (88).

The result leaves the Swans (14-6) fourth on the ladder, just below reigning premiers Melbourne on percentage, leading into their last home-and-away games against Collingwood and St Kilda.

“We took the foot off in that last bit and they were able to kick five goals in that last quarter,” Swans coach John Longmire said.

“We want that pressure up, to sustain it and keep it going for four quarters and (North) were able to just finish off with some goals in that last quarter.”

Sydney were too powerful across every area of the ground, with young guns Chad Warner, Errol Gulden and Nick Blakey leading the charge.

But veterans like Tom Hickey, Sam Reid and dynamic forward-midfielder Tom Papley were also influential.

Superstar Lance Franklin, who on Saturday declared he was putting contract talks with the club on hold until the end of the season, ended with four goals after North defender Aidan Corr restricted the legendary goal-kicker early in the game.

North (2-18) suffered a pre-game blow when key defender Ben McKay (shoulder) was withdrawn and replaced by Josh Walker, who played the first few minutes in the Kangaroos’ VFL game at Arden St before being pulled off.

Larkey was clearly the Kangaroos’ best, while midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke put in another outstanding performance in his career-best season.

“We thought we played some really good patches of footy, and then at times we thought we were too easy to score against,” caretaker North coach Leigh Adams said,

“We got a really good lesson, the margin could have got out further, but to the boys credit they fought in really hard, but just too inconsistent.”

While all ran smoothly for the Swans at Docklands, former co-captain Josh Kennedy suffered a suspected hamstring injury in the VFL game after he was on the cusp of a return to the AFL side.

The Swans are back at the SCG next Sunday for a mammoth clash with the red-hot Magpies in a battle crucial to the make-up of the top-four, while the Kangaroos travel to play Adelaide on Saturday to face the Crows.

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