Lance Franklin has helped lift the Swans to a stunning come-from-behind 26-point AFL win over GWS in a fixture where eight players were made unavailable late due to coronavirus protocols.
Sydney trailed by 35 early in the second quarter but came to life leading into halftime in the derby at Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium on Sunday night.
After a quiet first half, Franklin finished with four goals, which included his 400th for the Swans, in the 15.8 (98) to 11.6 (72) victory.
He played a leading hand in the turnaround and capitalised as the Sydney midfield found their groove.
The Swans put together a run of nine goals, including six unanswered in the third term, to ultimately quash the Giants’ hopes of jumping into the top eight.
“It was an unbelievable win when you consider we probably had enough reasons to … not keep going,” Swans’ coach John Longmire said.
Callum Mills, Harry Cunningham and Colin O’Riordan (Swans) and Toby Greene and Matt de Boer (Giants) were forced to pull out less than an hour before the first bounce after the Victorian Government upgraded their COVID-19 exposure sites.
Longmire said Sydney’s late inclusions rocked up about 20 minutes before the match after getting a phone call.
“Things can change so quickly. I told players just before they ran out for their warm up. To bring three players in that played (Saturday) it’s a credit to those guys,” he said.
“I’ve got nothing but admiration for that playing group. They continue to be able to deliver when things are stacked again them.”
Unselected Giants Kieren Briggs and Jake Stein and Sydney ruckman Callum Sinclair are also isolating.
The group were among 15 players and staff from both clubs who attended the Wallabies’ match in Melbourne on Tuesday and were in an area of AAMI Park that was reclassified as Tier 2 exposure.
They are all in quarantine under Queensland Health Department requirements until further notice.
The Giants’ woes were further compounded with injuries to Josh Kelly (ankle) and ruckman Matt Flynn, who left the field on two occasions after appearing to dislocate his shoulder twice.
Sydney have now notched three wins in a row and are sixth on the ladder, while the Giants sit in 12th position and are two points outside the top eight.
Tom Papley also finished with four majors for the Swans, while teammate Luke Parker was atop the match possession count with 31.
Remarkably, the Swans kicked 12 of the last 14 goals.
The Giants came flying out of the blocks against a sluggish opposition, kicking six first-quarter goals to open up a 37-8 lead at the end of the opening term.
They stretched the lead to 50-16 midway through the second quarter before the Swans scored three straight to reduce the margin to 56-40 at the main break.
“We were really disappointing after halftime. We just lowered our colours around the midfield,” Leon Cameron said.
“The dam wall broke because we just let them have too much easy ball in the second half.”
Harry Himmelberg had a strong game for the Giants with three goals.