Sydney has prevailed by three points over Essendon in a gripping Thursday night clash at the SCG.
In a frantic final term, the Swans had the majority of field position and were deserved winners against a brave Bombers outfit, with Lance Franklin's third goal of the night proving to be the match winner.
The game was won and lost in the middle, as the contest swung in patches as both sides won the ball and drove forward.
The Bombers looked in trouble early, conceded plenty of territory in the opening stages as the Swans piled on the pressure in front of a big crowd in Sydney.
But Essendon responded, firstly by making the most of their limited opportunities and then slowly beginning to win the ball at the source and shift momentum, kicking six goals in a row in the first half.
In game where momentum swung dramatically, Sydney hit back with five straight of their own in the second term to take back the lead before the main break.
What ensued in the second half was a microcosm of the first, as both sides traded multiple goals as the lead constantly changed during a heart-stopping conclusion.
Here’s everything you need to know!
__The moment: Franklin has the final say __
Lance Franklin was given the weekend off against Richmond last Saturday, with the Swans preferring to keep him fresh with just five days between their Round 3 and 4 clashes.
Aaron Francis was given the daunting task of attempting to stop the 34-year-old and he battled admirably, but he was powerless to stop Franklin who took a strong pack mark and put a exclamation mark on the game in the dying stages.
It was only fitting that the defining moment of the match was the 950th goal of his glittering career.
He may have tired in the second half, but when the game was there to be won it was one of the greatest goalkickers we’ve ever seen that seen that took control.
Another Heeney injury blow
Sydney was forced to use their medical sub in the second term, with Isaac Heeney out of the game early with a broken hand.
After he was quickly subbed out and James Bell injected in the game, the Swans later confirmed the extent of the setback and it wasn’t good news.
It remains to be seen just how many weeks he faces on the sidelines.
It’s time to talk about Jake Stringer
Stringer’s campaign was hampered in 2020, largely due to a syndesmosis injury he picked up against Collingwood earlier in the season.
After an injury-affected off-season, Essendon opted to bring him back through two VFL practice matches before he was brought back into the senior side.
And what a good decision that is looking like so far, with Stringer coming in and becoming an immediate threat against St Kilda last week.
On Thursday night, he kicked two of his side’s three goals to start Thursday night’s match and was a constant presence up forward.
It’s time to start talking about him and just how crucial he is for this Essendon side.
The big games for the Swans keep on coming, facing off against crosstown rivals GWS at the SCG next Saturday.
While the Bombers’ second consecutive game outside Melbourne sees them head north to play Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday night, a game which will mark Joe Daniher’s first game against his former club.
Sydney: 2.5, 7.9, 9.11, 11.17 (83)
Essendon: 4.1, 7.4, 10.5, 12.8 (80)
Sydney: Sydney 3, Reid 2, McInerney 2, Papley, Mills, Parker, Florent
Essendon: Hooker 3, Stringer 3, Waterman 2, Cox, Smith, Jones, Parish
Sydney: Lloyd, Parker, Franklin, Mills, McInerney
Essendon: Ridley, Waterman, Merrett, Hooker, Stringer
Sydney: Isaac Heeney (hand), replaced by James Bell
Crowd: 28,039 at the SCG