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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 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS ($1.22)vs CAR ($4.50) 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW ($1.01)vs BRI ($17.00) 14:10AS
NTH ($1.67)vs WBU ($2.25) 16:35ES
ESS ($6.75)vs RIC ($1.12) 19:20MCG
GCF ($3.30)vs PTA ($1.35) 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE ($2.05)vs WCE ($1.80) 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK ($4.50)vs SYD ($1.22) 15:20ES
FRE ($1.08)vs MEL ($8.50) 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE ($2.00)vs ADE ($1.75) 13:05SS
BRI ($3.50)vs WBU ($1.28) 13:45G
PTA ($1.75)vs FRE ($2.00) 15:50Adelaide Oval
HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($15.00) 16:40MCG
SYD ($1.02)vs GCF ($12.00) 19:20SCG
WCE ($1.11)vs STK ($6.25) 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GWS 13:10ES
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 20 16 4 0 122.19 64
West Coast Eagles 20 15 4 1 150.85 62
Hawthorn 20 14 6 0 154.20 56
Sydney Swans 20 14 6 0 118.16 56
Richmond 20 13 7 0 120.22 52
Western Bulldogs 20 13 7 0 116.09 52
North Melbourne 20 13 7 0 110.91 52
Adelaide Crows 19 12 7 0 116.41 50
View all
 

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