AAP AFL

Swans topple AFL ladder-leading Eagles

By AAP Newswire

Sydney have toppled West Coast by 15 points in an AFL blockbuster at the SCG, stating their premiership credentials with a show of suffocating pressure.

It's rare to have a finals-like atmosphere at many games in the middle of the season, but the widespread expectation on Friday night was the top-four showdown would be something special.

The rivals delivered, winding the clock back to 2005 in a low-scoring scrap that finished 10.12 (72) to 7.15 (57).

The frenzied series of heavy tackles, hurried snaps, smothers and spoils reflected the sides' desperation - and why they're both expected to progress deep into September.

Space is often at a premium in Sydney, but this was something else.

The hosts handled the heat much better, boasting more composure and class when the game was in the balance.

Sydney were held goal-less in the opening quarter. It's the first time it has happened at the SCG since 2006.

John Longmire's men settled after quarter-time, booting seven consecutive goals either side of halftime in what was their sixth win on the trot.

"It was a pressure game. A lot of pressure from both teams. We didn't have a lot of time and space, we had to scramble," Longmire said.

"When you've got first versus third, it's a high-pressure game and you're going to miss some targets and miss some goals because of that pressure.

"They're a very, very good football team. We were coming off a six-day break, they had the bye last week."

It was the most-complete performance of 2018 from the Swans, who have the bye then face reigning premiers Richmond at Etihad Stadium.

The result ended the Eagles' 10-match winning streak. It was the club's first loss since round one, when Sydney won by 29 points in Perth.

"We didn't convert early, they did," West Coast coach Adam Simpson said.

"The second half in particular, the boys really had a go."

West Coast gun Elliot Yeo threatened to make things interesting when he burst through the middle 19 seconds into the final quarter, kicking truly to reduce the margin to 20 points.

Lance Franklin's inaccuracy also fuelled the Eagles' hopes of a final-quarter comeback, but Sydney's back six stood strong in Heath Grundy's 250th game.

The Swans fell 3.5 percentage points short of snatching top spot from West Coast.

Franklin, who booted eight goals in round one, was quiet early but stepped up in the second half as the Eagles repeatedly infringed while attempting to nullify Sydney's most-potent threat.

The superstar finished with 2.5.

Grundy tallied 23 disposals, reflecting how often the ball was pinging into his half of the ground.

"Tonight was probably our best night of the year. It was a four-quarter effort," the key defender told the Seven Network.

Skipper Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney were magnificent for the Swans, combining for 11 tackles and 50 touches, but young guns Jake Lloyd, Oliver Florent, Tom Papley, Ben Ronke and Tom McCartin also stood up.

"They were really good, the young kids. They all contributed," Longmire said.