Buddy bags nine for Sydney
Lance Franklin steals the show with nine goals in a 71-point win over the Saints but the victory is soured by a hamstring injury to Josh Kennedy.PT0M0S 620 349
SYDNEY 6.3 8.8 15.9 19.13 (127) ST KILDA 1.1 2.4 5.7 8.8 (56)
Goals: Sydney: L Franklin 9 K Tippett 3 D Towers H Cunningham J Lloyd J McVeigh L Jetta L Parker N Malceski. St Kilda: N Riewoldt 3 R Stanley 2 D Armitage J Gwilt J Steven.
BEST Sydney: Franklin, Jack, Parker, McVeigh, Rohan, Rampe. St Kilda: Riewoldt, Steven, Ray, Montagna, Dempster.
Umpires: Luke Farmer, Nicholas Foot, Tristan Burgess.
Official Crowd: 31,361 at SCG.
Sydney did not need to put on a special tribute for Lance Franklin's 200th - Buddy made sure he would celebrate his milestone in style.
The crowd came to see Franklin put on another SCG clinic and they did not leave disappointed after the superstar delivered another powerhouse performance.
AFL Round 21, Sydney Swans vs St Kilda at Sydney Cricket Ground.
AFL Round 21. Sydney Swans 19-13-127 defeated St Kilda 8-8-56 by 71 points at Sydney Cricket Ground. Photo: Getty Images
His haul of 9.4 alone would have been enough to beat St Kilda as the Swans reclaimed top spot with a crushing 71-point victory.
The Swans are no one-man band but they are a formidable sight to behold when their $10 million recruit is conducting the orchestra from the goal square.
The Saints defence could have been armed with kryptonite and still had no impact in quelling his superhero powers.
Six more points: Lance Franklin celebrates a goal against St Kilda. Photo: Getty Images
The only flaws in his game did not appear until he had nine on the board and was shooting for only the second double-digit haul of his career.
He fluffed both chances, one from 20 metres out - his easiest shot of the day - and another with seconds left from 50 out which he sprayed out on the full.
"I could have kicked a little bit straighter late but I was a bit dead in the legs, I couldn't kick the actual 50, I was buggered," Franklin said.
The Swans have four towers in attack but against the Saints they only needed one to stand tall.
Sam Gilbert drew the short straw by starting on Franklin and he lasted not much more than a quarter after Franklin jagged three by the first break.
His replacement, Luke Delaney, fared little better though both Saints backmen would have good reason to be filthy with their teammates for allowing Franklin to be one-out too often deep inside Sydney's forward 50.
Like a magician, Franklin found different ways to mesmerise his audience. He bombed them from outside 50, snapped truly with his back towards goal and there was also an occasion where he evaded two would-be tacklers to score.
"We tried to double team. It probably quelled things to some extent because it was looking really ugly early but I thought he was amazing today," said Saints coach Alan Richardson.
"Whenever the ball went near him it looked like he was going to get it.
"He is obviously an outstanding player but he was almost unstoppable. For us anyway today."
Franklin, with 61 goals to Jarryd Roughead's 55, is now in the box seat to win a third Coleman Medal though greater riches await him in September.
The Swans would also be pleased with the improved form of Franklin's "Boy Wonder", Kurt Tippett.
Tippett kicked three goals, though more pleasing for the Swans hierarchy was his improved mobility and ability to compete in the air. It should be remembered Tippett actually outscored Franklin earlier in the season before he was struck down by injury.
"He actually trained as good as he had for quite a while on Thursday and did much of the session which he hadn't done for a while," said John Longmire.
"We're trying to build on his training time and playing time and [he] looked better again today. He's moving a lot better so that's a good sign."
It would have been difficult, however, for the pair not to prosper such was the dominance of Sydney's midfield, even with Kennedy absent for much of the game.
Luke Parker had another 30-plus possession game, Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh were again prolific while Dan Hannebery, in his second game back from injury, found the ball 26 times.
"We're going to find it a lot easier when the ball's coming in like it was and the midfielders were on top all day," Franklin said.
How Nick Riewoldt must have wished he was on the receiving end of such service. The inspirational Saints skipper provided a lone hand for his team, taking 11 marks and kicking three goals.
But times are tough for the Saints, who were competitive in patches but could at least be grateful the margin did not blow out to triple figures.
Jack Steven was their best midfielder though it will be alarming for Saints fans that it was their senior players, rather than emerging lights, left to carry the can.