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Malceski's snap is one for the ages

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Martin Blake

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Epic Grand Final one of the all time greats

Fresh from a heart stopping AFL Grand Final AGE footy writers Rohan Connolly and Martin Flanagan reflect on Sydney's epic 10 point win over Hawthorn.

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IT WAS always going to be like this. A smother here, an unpredictable bounce there, a late goal would decide it. Hawthorn and Sydney had played a similarly dramatic match at the SCG just a month ago. Now they would reprise it on the grand final stage.

Thirty-two minutes into the last quarter, neither team had been broken, though players wilted around the edges, exhausted. Sydney led by four points and there was a ball-up near the Swans goal. Plainly, a Sydney goal would be the winner. If Hawthorn could repel this attack and move the ball quickly, the Hawks had time to steal it. Game on, as they say.

Sydney half-back Nick Malceski, who would take centre stage in the final act of this classic, had sneaked down off his half-back flank into the vicinity. ''I don't know what I was doing down in the forward 50,'' he said later, feigning regret. ''There was a bit of traffic around. I know John Blakey, my defensive coach, tells me not to go in the forward 50.''

Frozen in time: Nick Malceski's winning kick deep into time-on of the last quarter.

Frozen in time: Nick Malceski's winning kick deep into time-on of the last quarter. Photo: Wayne Taylor

But if Malceski was breaking any team rules, then Dan Hannebery, Sydney's flint-hard on-baller, was following orders. ''I was fourth at the stoppage,'' he said. ''I was playing my role in the wing spot.''

What happened next will go in the annals. The ball spilled from the ruck contest to the ground. Josh Kennedy was first to it, but he was beset upon in a tackle. Hannebery, playing the most famous game of his short career, grabbed the footy. ''The ball bobbled out to me, I gathered it, I heard Mal going 'roll back, roll back'. I was trying to find him,'' he said.

Hannebery fed a handball out the back to Malceski who fumbled momentarily, then launched his left boot at the Sherrin, almost volleying it. The football soared high, over the traffic but not with the authority Malceski would have liked.

The moment: Nick Malceski (with beard) after kicking the match winning goal.

The moment: Nick Malceski (with beard) after kicking the match winning goal. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Freeze the moment in time. It seemed to take forever. Hawthorn players launched desperate attempts to get to it. They could not; it carried the line by perhaps a metre. Malceski was mobbed by teammates. To the list of wobbly punts in AFL history, headed by Barry Breen's 1966 kick to hand St Kilda its only premiership, add Nick Malceski's rainmaker.

''If you look at a replay, I think I fumbled it a fair bit,'' he said. ''It was a bit like the 'Davo' [Nick Davis in the 2005 semi-final]. It wasn't quite in my hands. I kicked it out of mid-air. It went high. I was just hoping it went the distance. Once it did, I knew there wasn't much time to go and we were up by 10 points. I just went nuts. I can't explain how good this feeling is. Everything I've been through in my career, I've done my knee three times. It just does not matter.''

Hannebery was one of the first to him. ''It was an ugly kick, but it went through,'' he said. ''I knew that if we could win the next stoppage, it was game over.''

Ted Richards celebrates by hoisting Malceski onto his shoulder.

Ted Richards celebrates by hoisting Malceski onto his shoulder. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Mike Pyke, Sydney's Canadian ruckman, was nearby. ''I saw it floating through and I was thinking 'I hope it has the legs'. It was wobbling,'' he said.

Up in the coach's box, John Longmire was petrified that it might be touched on the line. That would have returned the football to Hawthorn, with the lead only five points. ''The worst result would've been a point,'' he said.

Such are the fine lines of games of football.

Agony and ecstasy: Luke Hodge in grief as Sydney celebrates.

Agony and ecstasy: Luke Hodge in grief as Sydney celebrates. Photo: Paul Rovere

Malceski, the 28-year-old from Eastern Ranges, was an appropriate finisher. Like Ted Richards and Jarrad McVeigh, he was among the Swans who missed out on the 2005 premiership, playing in 2006 when Sydney lost by a point to West Coast.

''I was young, 21 back then,'' he said. ''You just think it's going to happen every year, and you know, it doesn't. You've got to take the most of your opportunities, and today we did.''

One of the significant things that happened at Sydney during the week was that the players who lost in 2006 spoke to the younger men about the pain of losing a grand final.

Craig Bird, Nick Malceski and Adam Goodes.

Craig Bird, Nick Malceski and Adam Goodes. Photo: Pat Scala

Richards and McVeigh and Malceski had their turn, and Rhyce Shaw spoke about his losing grand final at Collingwood in 2003. Don't go here, was the message. For Malceski, it was reward for perseverance. Three times he has had knees reconstructed, the most recent a LARS surgery on his right knee early last year. At that point, he thought his career was over until Sydney's doctor, Nathan Gibbs, told him about the LARS surgery.

''He said, 'you've got another option, it only keeps you out for three months'. I said, 'let's do it'. The club looked through all the pros and cons. If I didn't get that done, my career would have been over.''

He had already had a decent grand final. Longmire had been happy with his defensive work since he returned to the team late in the season. Now he wanted run and spread. ''He just came up to me and said, 'run your arse off today'.''

His first-quarter goal from the boundary in the forward pocket will go down as one of the great grand final goals. ''I've got no idea how that went in,'' he said. ''I was having a shot, for sure! It worked pretty well. I think I was in row six. It swung in there, nice.''

At that point of the game the Swans were leaking badly, and Hawthorn threatened a blow-out. ''We were gone, absolutely gone,'' said Hannebery. ''We just dug in. We stuck at it, and this is the sweetest feeling. It's going to live on for many, many years.''

As for Malceski, he was clutching a premiership medal. Finally. ''I couldn't be prouder of the group we've got here. Everyone will do anything for each other. It's just a great feeling when the final siren went.''

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AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
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Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
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Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all
 

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