Sydney into AFL Grand Final as black-and-white magic falls JUST short in all-time prelim epic
Sydney has advanced to the 2022 Grand Final after holding off a gallant Collingwood side, winning by one point in a wild finish at the SCG.
The Swans had all control in the first half and led by as much as 36 points early in the third term, before the Magpies, as they’ve done so many times this season, came back with an almighty rush.
A desperate Collingwood kicked five of the last six goals of the match and took it to Sydney all the way until the final siren. But the Swans held their nerve in the tense final stages to win 14.11 (95) to 14.10 (94).
“The Pies’ Cinderella story finally comes to a halt. It just doesn’t come much better than that,” Channel 7 commentator Hamish McLachlan said on the final siren.
While the Pies will earn praise for their fightback, Sydney deserves all the credit for setting up the game in the first half as it was completely played on the home side’s terms including kicking six goals in the opening term alone.
The Swans probably should’ve been ahead by more in the first half too, kicking 9.7 to Collingwood’s much more accurate 7.0 at one stage.
Tom Papley ended with three crucial goals — the last in controversial fashion after he got away with a crucial non-call despite appearing to push Darcy Moore in the back — in a massive performance from the star Swans forward.
Errol Gulden (20 disposals, seven tackles) and Callum Mills (27 disposals, six tackles) were also huge for the home side, while Buddy Franklin kicked two goals in the first half in an eventful matchup on Brayden Maynard with plenty of feeling.
Meanwhile Jack Crisp (29 disposals, one goal) and Scott Pendelbury (29 touches) were both enormous for the Magpies in the defeat as their fairytale season under first-year coach Craig McRae ended.
“I don’t know what to say I’m lost for words. They had no right to get where they did Collingwood,” Fox Footy’s Jason Dunstall said post-match.
“Sydney controlled that game for 99.9 per cent of it, and nearly got beaten. What an incredible effort from the Pies, and I reckon they went a bit defensive Sydney in the last term.”
The Swans now march on to fourth grand final in 12 years and fourth under John Longmire ahead of next Saturday’s decider against Geelong.
QUARTER-BY-QUARTER MATCH REPORT
There were no late changes, with Sydney’s Braeden Campbell and Collingwood’s Nathan Kreuger named the medical subs.
The Swans got the first clearance of the game and had the play inside their forward 50 for the opening minute.
Luke Parker got his side on the board early, taking advantage from a free kick and kicking truly to get Sydney fans up and about.
Jack Ginnivan had an opportunity at the other end of the the ground after drawing a high-tackle free kick — to receive loud boos from the SCG crowd — but he couldn’t convert the shot.
The Swans made them pay at the other end of the ground, with Dylan Stephens finishing off an end-to-end play before adding another to race out to a 20-point lead.
Franklin was in the thick of it early deep inside 50 and even wrestled with Magpie Brayden Maynard.
Tom Papley launched a long-range bomb halfway through the term as Sydney suddenly took a 26-point advantage in one-way traffic at the SCG in a dominant start for the home side.
“It is shock and awe at the SCG,” SEN broadcaster Gerard Whateley said of Sydney’s fast start.
Channel 7 caller Jude Bolton added: “The Swans are just giving them no time and space at ground level.”
Will Hoskin-Elliott finally got the Magpies on the board later in the term to reduce their deficit to 20 points.
Collingwood settled from that point, missing another opportunity going inside 50 before Jamie Elliott kicked truly to make it two in a row for the black and white.
But just as the Pies were mounting a comeback, the Swans responded with two of the last three goals in a high-scoring term including a freakish boundary finish from Chad Warner.
It saw Sydney take a 21-point lead into the opening break, 6.3 (39) to 3.0 (18).
Collingwood got off to the ideal start in the second quarter as Elliott put through his second goal of the day.
Brushing off Maynard’s ongoing attempts to get under his skin, Franklin responded at the other end immediately to put through his first for the contest. But it was the Pies goalkicking accuracy keeping them in it as Darcy Cameron then nailed a set shot.
Next Ginnivan gave a crisp goal assist to Beau McCreery, who finished truly from a set shot to bring it back to an 11-point deficit.
Franklin again came right back with the quick response to regain some momentum as a Sydney chant roared around the SCG, while James Rowbottom another and just like that the home side had won the quarter.