Sydney left it until the last minute to seal the four points in their nine-point win against St Kilda.
The Saints were left to lament a number of missed set shots in the final quarter which could’ve sealed a memorable victory at the SCG.
The most notable was a miss from Jack Higgins who had a shot with a minute left on the clock to win the game for St Kilda but sprayed his kick wide to give the Swans the ball and the game.
Higgins kicked 1.6 for the game.
“(There were) opportunities for Jack Higgins and others throughout the day that they weren’t able to take and you just can’t get away with that against Sydney,” Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon said in commentary.
“As heartbreaking and as cruel as that is, you’ve had your chance and you’ve stuffed it.”
“This is a part of the game that has aboslutely bedevilled St Kilda for the whole year. They can’t kick goals.”
“Jack Higgins, he’ll be feeling sick,” added Lions legend Jonathan Brown.
Sydney looked set for a cruisy afternoon at the office when they jumped out to a 21-point lead late in the first quarter, but two late goals to the Saints brought the margin back to eight-points at the first change.
Mason Wood was subbed out of the game at quarter-time with a hamstring injury after kicking the first goal of the game. Tom Highmore came into the contest in the second quarter as the Saints’ medical sub and was thrust into an uncustomary forward role.
The second term was tight, but it was the Saints who managed to win the arm wrestle on the scoreboard early and kicked the first two goals of the term through Jack Steele and Ryan Byrnes.
Buddy Franklin’s 968th career goal had the Swans back on top, before his protégé Logan McDonald kicked his second and what would be the last goal of the quarter at the 11-minute mark.
After the Swans jumped out to a 14-point lead early in the third quarter, it looked like the top-four aspirants had put the foot down and were set to race away with the contest.
But as was the seesawing nature of the game, the Saints were able to claw their way back into it and appeared to have all the momentum when Tim Membrey became their ninth goalkicker of the afternoon and gave his side the lead in time-on.
Sydney had all the answers though, and two late goals to livewire forward Tom Papley and skipper Luke Parker gave the Swans some breathing room when the sides turned for home.
Two dubious 50-metre penalties resulted in St Kilda goals and gave them a sniff deep into the last quarter, but it was inaccuracy that killed the Saints again as Sydney ran out winners.
Any forward line with Buddy Franklin in it is dangerous, but it’s the pieces around the generational forward that might make the Swans’ attack the best in the competition.
The Swans finished with four multiple goal kickers and it’s that potency that will have opposition sides worried come September.
Isaac Heeney and Will Hayward are just as dangerous in the air as they are on the ground and kicked five goals between them.
Buddy kicked two to move within 32 of 1000 career goals, while 19-year-old Logan McDonald kicked two on his return to the senior side.
Hill stops decline
Bradley Hill answered his critics once again in 2020 with his best game of the season playing across half back for the Saints.
The 27-year-old’s numbers had dropped every week since Round 7. He had just six touches last week, but it took half a quarter against the Swans for Hill to surpass that.
The Saints looked to get him involved at every turn and he had 18 first-half possessions at 100 per cent efficiency and totalled a game-high 317-metres gained to go with six score involvements.
Miss of the season
St Kilda’s woeful goalkicking accuracy has been well documented and their biggest issue reared its ugly head again, including one miss that had to be seen to be believed.
Jack Higgins was the main culprit early for the Saints, kicking 1.3 in the first half including a bevy of set shots the skilful forward would normally nail.
But the worst miss of the day came with just second left on the clock in the second quarter.
After Jack Billings pumped the ball to about 15-metres out from the St Kilda goal, Seb Ross roved the ball out the back of the pack and ran into an open goal.
The 28-year-old put the ball on his boot 10-metres from goal but staggeringly stuck the Sherrin the wrong side of the goalpost in one of the misses of the season.
Two of the softest 50-metre penalties of the season that resulted in goals gave the Saints a sniff in the last quarter.
When Josh Battle was lining up from 55-metres out tight to the boundary to give the Saints a sniff early in the last quarter, Dane Rampe gave King the slightest push which resulted in the two-metre key forward flailing to the ground and a 50 being paid.
Minutes later, the Saints were trapped deep in defence when Nick Coffield took a mark on the last line and a late-arriving Sam Wicks put a hand on the young defender which sent him to the ground and another 50 was paid.
St Kilda took the ball to the other end of the ground and Membrey kicked his second to make it a one-goal game.