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Bloods spirit triumphs in the end

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Michael Cowley

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Swans clinch Premiership in epic Grand Final

Sydney Swans beat Hawthorn by 10 points in one of the all time great AFL Grand Finals.

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By Swans standards it was a blowout but you may get an argument from their supporters, who left the MCG yesterday with their nails bitten to the quick.

None would care however, as they left signing their club song and with their team as the 2012 premiers, after the Swans won one of the more remarkable deciders in recent times – and they have been in some rare ones.

In the end, the margin was 10 points. But it was how they got there. Belted early, then rejuvenated, setting up a major lead, then swamped, then appearing gone, but somehow – call it Bloods spirit, call it a will to win or a refusal to surrender – in front of 99,683, they snatched a premiership everyone had at some stage that day, doubted they could.

The Swans savour their victory at the MCG.

The Swans savour their victory at the MCG. Photo: Pat Scala

The club, once the laughing stock of the AFL, and of Sydney, now have won two flags in the past seven years. It had taken 72 years before that famous win in 2005.

It was hardly surprising the first few minutes were typically tough, tight, and give-nothing-to-your-opponent, but it was eventually the Hawks, through Xavier Ellis, who kicked the first goal of the game. But Sydney soon responded with a miracle goal from the boundary from Nick Malceski, and the margin was back where it was before the opening bounce, after 10 minutes of play.

Hawthorn clearly had the best of the next 10 minutes but couldn't punish Sydney and the lead was just three 1.5 (11) to 1.2 (8) deep into the term.

AFL Grand Final 2012 at The MCG , Hawthorn v Sydney Swans , Saturday 29th of September 2012 , Photo Pat Scala The Age Click for more photos

AFL Grand Final Hawthorn vs Swans at the MCG

A nail-biting Grand Final at the MCG Saturday 29th September 2012 between Hawthorn and Sydney Swans Photo: Pat Scala

The Hawks finally got a second goal through Lance Franklin then, when Luke Breust and Jack Gunston added more majors, it was worry times for the Swans, and at the first break they trailed by 19 points, 4.5 (29) to 1.4 (10).

Something had to change and coach John Longmire tinkered at the break with instant results when Josh Kennedy scored from outside 50m a minute after the resumption. Four minutes later Kieren Jack marked inside the goal square and converted, then Jarrad McVeigh did likewise from close range. After just nine minutes the Swans were back, one point down at 4.5 (29) to 4.4 (28).

It was soon after that Adam Goodes limped to the sideline and the medical staff worked overtime to bandage his injured left knee. That didn't stop the Swans however, as they brought the ball the length of the field for Sam Reid to finish with a goal, pitting the Swans in front for the first time in the day.

Adam Goodes celebrates after the final siren.

Adam Goodes celebrates after the final siren. Photo: Wayne Taylor

When Mitch Morton added one in the 19th and another in the 22nd minute, the Swans had kicked six straight goals to a solitary behind to Hawthorn. That's how it stayed until the main break, Sydney leading by 16 points at 7.4 (46) to 4.6 (30).

The transformation that came over the game after the first quarter was stunning. It continued in the third term when Josh Kennedy kicked the first goal of the quarter after three minutes, then Lewis Roberts-Thomson got the second five minutes later. Sydney led by 28 points.

What was going on? This wasn't the way the Swans played at this ground. This wasn't the way they played in grand finals. They won in 2005 by four points and lost by a point in 2006. They were nailbiters. Already this was looking like Swans fans would leave the ground with perfectly manicured fingernails.

When David Hale kicked true 14 minutes in, it was Hawthorn's first goal since the 29th minute of the first quarter. Then it happened. Franklin goal, Gunston goal, Franklin a bomb from 65m, then Isaac Smith on the run. In 10 minutes the Swans' lead had evaporated and the Hawks were in front.

McVeigh got one back for Sydney and at the last break, they led, not surprisingly, by one point. But when Breust then Hale got goals within the first two minutes of the last term, it seemed the flag was Hawthorn's.

It wasn't over. Dan Hannebery then Jack goalled to level the scores with eight minutes to play. When Goodes kicked his first of the afternoon, the Swans led with just seven minutes to play. The Hawks rallied but with 37 seconds to play, Malceski sealed the win.

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