THE SYDNEY Swans have won an extraordinary rollercoaster of a Grand Final, defeating Hawthorn by 10 points in wintry conditions at the MCG on Saturday.
With 99,683 people watching on, the Swans were 28 points up early in the third quarter, fell 12 points behind during the final term, then prevailed 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81).
Ryan O’Keefe, who collected 28 possessions, laid 15 tackles and won seven clearances, was awarded the Norm Smith Medal after a dominant performance for the Swans in the midfield.
In a nail-biting finish, David Hale put Hawthorn 11 points up early in the last quarter, before a shot from Lance Franklin extended the margin to 12.
But the Swans, who went into the game as rank outsiders, refused to be beaten.
Three late goals from Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack and Adam Goodes handed John Longmire’s team a seven-point advantage with seven minutes to go.
Hawthorn did much of the late attacking, but Jack Gunston and Brad Sewell missed three shots between them in the dying moments of what was an enthralling contest.
Nick Malceski then snapped the winning goal with 38 seconds left on the clock, as the Swans won their fifth VFL/AFL premiership, but just their second since 1933.
O’Keefe, Hannebery (29 possessions) and Josh Kennedy (26 touches) and Jarrad McVeigh (21) played their hearts out in the midfield for the winners.
Malceski, Jack, Kennedy, McVeigh and Mitch Morton all kicked two goals.
Lewis Roberts-Thomson, who took marks and laid big tackles at both ends of the ground, was another never-say-die performer for the Swans.
“It’s fantastic,” coach John Longmire said after the game.
“I was lucky enough to play in one in my last game and now as a coach to see the 22 players experience it, some for the second time, but many for the first time, is one of the great experiences I’ve had.
“To see the joy on their faces and get reward for what’s been a fantastic season was great.”
It was a devastating result for Hawthorn, which had 26 scoring shots to 21 and dominated in many areas on the stats sheet.
The Hawks won the inside-50 count 61-43 a
nd the clearance count 58-35, yet they were unable to win their 11th VFL/AFL flag.
“When you come to the big dance at the end of September, you’re not going to win them all the time,” Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said.
“Allan Jeans came here on nine occasions and won four. So we just need to keep turning up.
“Along the way there is going to be some heartbreak, whether that’s in prelims or whether that’s in Grand Finals.
“But along the way there’ll also be some joy.
“We didn’t get that today, but we’re hopeful t
hat if we learn from our season, we’ll get another chance to have another crack at it in the not-too-distant future.”
Franklin, who outplayed Swans defender Ted Richards for much of the afternoon, was one of many stars on the losing team.
The gun forward sparked the Hawks’ revival by kicking two extraordinary goals in the third quarter, including a 60m bomb from close to the boundary line, and he finished the game with 3.4 and 24 possessions.
Midfielders Sewell (33 disposals and 11 clearances) and Sam Mitchell (24 touches, 10 clearances) were among the other star performers.
By quarter-time the inside-50 count was 18-7 in their favour and they led by 19 points.
Yet Longmire’s men piled on the next eight goals – without a miss – and if Kennedy’s snap had not hit the post, 10 minutes into the third term, they would have been 33 points up.
However, Hawthorn was far from finished. The Hawks regained the lead 57 seconds into the last quarter, then established a two-goal buffer.
But they couldn’t hold on, as the Swans fought back to score a famous win.
SYDNEY SWANS 1.4 7.4 10.5 14.7 (91)GOALS
Hawthorn: Franklin 3, Breust 2, Gunston 2, Hale 2, Ellis, Smith
Sydney Swans: Jack 2, Kennedy 2, Malceski 2, McVeigh 2, Morton 2, Goodes, Hannebery, Reid, Roberts-ThomsonBEST
Hawthorn: Franklin, Sewell, Burgoyne, Mitchell, Breust, Hale
Sydney Swans: Hannebery, O’Keefe, Kennedy, McVeigh, Jetta, Goodes
Hawthorn: Ellis (calf), Hodge (head)
Sydney Swans: Goodes (knee), Johnson (wrist)
Hawthorn: Xavier Ellis (calf) replaced by Shane Savage in the third quarter
Sydney Swans: Shane Mumford replaced by Luke Parker in the fourth quarter
Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Meredith
Official crowd: 99,683 at the MCG
This story was originally published on afl.com.au