Megastar Lance Franklin kicked three goals as Sydney pipped ladder-leaders Adelaide by three points to confirm their status as the hottest team in the AFL.
Franklin was an influential force as the Swans prevailed 13.5 (83) to 11.14 (80) in a Friday night thriller at Adelaide Oval.
Franklin and teammate Josh Kennedy (31 disposals, one goal) inspired Sydney’s 11th win in 12 games – they’re now fourth, though Richmond are favoured to steal that spot back by beating Fremantle on Sunday.
The Swans also have a worry with Zak Jones reported for a late bump on Adelaide’s Brad Crouch in the final quarter.
Adelaide remain top and assured of an initial home final but were jumped at the start: Sydney kicked the first four goals – two from Franklin, matched against Adelaide ‘s fifth-gamer Alex Keath.
The Crows’ plight became severe when slipping 29 points down early in the second term but they climbed from the canvas to reduce their halftime deficit to only eight points.
And when Crow Mitch McGovern’s third goal was followed by an accurate Tom Lynch snap some four minutes into the third term, Adelaide held the lead.
Sydney linchpin Franklin then replied with a goal of the year contender – he took the ball on a wing some 100 metres from goal, bounced ahead of a flagging Daniel Talia, and threaded from 30m on a tight angle.
The Swans were just 11 points up at three quarter-time and the Crows then booted three consecutive goals to steal a nine-point lead.
But late goals to Sydney’s Sam Reid and Tom Papley lifted the visitors to what coach John Longmire said was a confidence-boosting victory.
“It was an absolute arm wrestle – two good teams in pretty good form going at it pretty hard,” Longmire said.
“And we were able to get it right in that last five minutes.”
Adelaide coach Don Pyke lamented his side’s inability to convert from some gilt-edged scoring chances.
“We had fair control of the game without being able to hit the (score) board … we didn’t take our opportunities,” Pyke said.
Star Swan Franklin’s haul was supported by two goals from Reid while Kennedy’s midfield colleagues Luke Parker (30 touches) and Dan Hannebery (28 possessions) were prominent.
Adelaide’s Sloane finished with 29 disposals and 14 tackles, onballer Matt Crouch collected 34 possessions, Lynch was influential with 24 disposals and a goal while McGovern kicked four goals and Eddie Betts scored two.