Sydney Swans overcome COVID-19 chaos to defeat GWS Giants in Sydney Derby, James Rowbottom

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The Sydney Swans have shaken off a chaotic pre-game and an early 35-point deficit to claim the latest Sydney Derby against the GWS Giants.

After Callum Mills, Colin O’Riordan and Harry Cunningham were forced out of the line-up less than an hour before the first bounce, the Swans were rocked early before running out 15. 8. (98) to 11. 6. (72) winners at Metricon Stadium.

Originally scheduled to be played at GIANTS Stadium, this match was then moved to MARS Stadium in Ballarat before eventually being shifted to the Gold Coast due to the developing COVID-19 environment around Australia.

However, that was not the most chaotic part of the lead-up to the match, with five players forced to be pulled out of the contest despite having gone through pre-match warm-ups.

Youngster James Rowbottom was one of three Swans to be drafted in at the 11th hour, alongside Dylan Stephens and Ben Ronke, and he revealed that he found he was playing while in the shower just over an hour out from the first bounce.

“I was in the shower just in the hotel about an hour and 10 [minutes] before the game and [Swans Football Operations Manager Peter Berbakov] rang and said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I’m just in the hotel chilling out and he said, ‘Good. Get your gear on, it’s been a s–tshow down here, you might be playing’,” he told Swans TV.

“I jumped out of the shower, got dressed, my girlfriend came up the stairs two or three minutes later and said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I think I’m playing’, and came down with about half an hour to go and then we were out there.

“It was a bit of a rattling first half and I’m still a bit tired I guess from yesterday, but the way we rallied and came back and won was really impressive.”

It was a sensational second half from the Swans, who kicked nine goals to two in an incredible burst after half-time, including a six-goal burst inside 15 minutes in the third quarter.

Tom Papley and Lance Franklin were dominant up forward and pivotal in the comeback, combining for eight goals, while Justin McInerney and Sam Wicks were the Swans’ other multiple goal-kickers.

To make matters worse for the Giants, who lost their spot in the top eight with the loss, star midfielder Josh Kelly was subbed off in the third quarter after rolling his ankle.

The Giants face Essendon in a potential eight-point clash in Round 19, while Sydney will Fremantle in another match with massive finals implications.

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