SYDNEY 4.5 4.8 7.12 9.15 (69) MELBOURNE 1.2 2.3 4.4 5.8 (38)
Goals: Sydney: K Jack 2 B McGlynn D Hannebery H Cunningham J Kennedy L Franklin L Parker T Derickx. Melbourne: C Dawes C Salem D Tyson M Jones S Byrnes.
BEST - Sydney: D. Hannebery, R. Shaw, L. Parker, C. Bird, K. Jack, J. Kennedy, H. Grundy. Melbourne: N. Jones, M. Jones, B. Vince, D. Cross, L. Dunn, T. McDonald, J. Grimes.
Umpires: Dean Margetts, Heath Ryan, Andrew Mitchell.
Official Crowd: 24,855 at MCG.
Sydney overcame a dogged Melbourne by 31 points at the MCG on Saturday night, but the Swans’ third win of the season was overshadowed by a knee injury to superstar forward Lance Franklin.
Franklin got tangled up with Demon Tom McDonald 12 minutes into the third quarter and came up clutching his right knee. He limped to the bench, where he received treatment for 10 minutes before he was subbed out of the match after several run-throughs on the sideline.
The injury cast a pall over the Swans’ third win in the past month and the successful return of Adam Goodes, who started as the substitute and replaced Franklin in the third term of the 9.15 (69) to 5.8 (38) victory.
Goodes made an immediate impact when he set up two goals in his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in round 13 last year.
With Jarrad McVeigh blanketed by former Bulldog Daniel Cross for most of the evening, the Sydney skipper’s midfield teammates took up the slack with Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy all working hard around the stoppages.
While Melbourne coach Paul Roos was unable to conjure a win in his first encounter with the club he coached for 202 games, he certainly designed a game plan that troubled the Swans for the first three quarters.
It wasn’t much of a spectacle for the 24,855 fans, but to be fair, both coaches showed a clear intent to get numbers back behind the ball, which starved forwards of clear opportunities as their teammates grimly battled for territory.
Franklin was given a torrid welcome back to the ground that he last visited as a Hawk in last year’s grand final, with direct opponent McDonald adopting a physical approach to minding the star Swan. But the Demons defender gave away the free kick that allowed Franklin to slot his only goal of the night in a bright opening by Sydney.
Parker was prominent as the visitors put through the first two goals of the match, but the Demons, once again well led by Nathan Jones, managed to absorb that early pressure and wrest the momentum through the middle of the term.
A goal to Shannon Byrnes was all the Dees had to show for their efforts when Sydney hit back with Kieran Jack sending his side into the first break with a 21-point lead when he converted from long range inside the last minute of the quarter.
With the Swans threatening, Melbourne lifted its pressure around the contest in the second term, which didn’t help the aesthetics of the largely scrappy encounter, but effectively frustrated Sydney’s attempts to deliver clean ball inside attacking 50.
Chris Dawes and James Frawley struggled to have an influence up forward for the Demons on the back of some poor delivery, but Dawes slipped free to boot the only goal of the quarter as Melbourne closed the gap to 17 points at half-time.
Franklin found Harry Cunningham for the first goal of the second half, but his night came to a premature end minutes later as Josh Kennedy extended the Swans’ lead to 30 points midway through the third term.
The arrival of Goodes was greeted by applause from all quarters of the ground and he was immediately in the thick of the action with his first kick sailing towards goal before it was cut off by the desperate Melbourne defender.
The Demons were 26 points down heading into the final term and needed to score more goals than they had in the first three quarters if they were to mount a successful comeback.
On a bright note for the Demons, debutant Christian Salem, who came on as the substitute, booted his first AFL goal, but Goodes found Ben McGlynn with a searing pass that he duly converted to put the game beyond Melbourne’s reach.
In a triumphant return, Goodes also set up Tom Derickx for a late goal as the Swans closed out the match, which evens their season’s ledger at three wins and three losses.
But while Swans coach John Longmire will be pleased with his side’s momentum in recent weeks, all eyes will be on Franklin, who will undergo scans in the coming days.