Swans shake off Bulldogs in AFL upset

·3-min read

Sydney have taken a huge step towards locking in their first AFL finals series in three years with a stunning 19-point upset of the Western Bulldogs.

Jordan Dawson kicked three first-half goals and the Swans midfield kept chipping away as they gradually ground down their highly credentialed opponents in a 11.13 (79) to 8.12 (60) victory at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

Jake Lloyd (33 disposals), Callum Mills (31) and Luke Parker (27) played big roles and George Hewett was important in shadowing prolific Bulldogs midfielder Jack Macrae around the contest.

Dane Rampe, Tom McCartin and Justin McInerney stood up in a defensive unit that continually cut off Bulldogs attacking raids and Will Hayward bobbed up with two majors as one of seven goal-kickers for Sydney as they spread the load in a true team performance.

"It was fantastic ... I thought it was a really well balanced game," Swans coach John Longmire said.

"It seemed like a good game of footy, there were some really good contests and I think we played a combination of smart and hard, and had an even contribution, so it was a terrific win."

The Swans, who won just five games and finished 16th last year, have now beaten three of the current top-four sides and look destined for September action.

Their latest triumph was their second in two weeks against a fellow top-eight team and came almost three weeks after they were hurriedly relocated from Sydney because of the Harbour City's worsening COVID-19 crisis.

The Bulldogs dominated clearances 46-26 - including 15-3 at centre bounce - but were unable to take advantage as they registered one of their lowest scores of the season, with a makeshift forward line failing to fire in the absence of spearhead Aaron Naughton.

No.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan had seven disposals in attack and spilt a few marking attempts, while his two early shots at goal resulted in a smothered kick and a rushed behind in a goal-mouth scramble.

The man he has long been likened to - Sydney superstar Lance Franklin - had a dirty day for the most part at the other end of the ground.

Franklin finished with 1.3 from 10 disposals under the close watch of Alex Keath and put another shot out on the full as the Swans looked to shut the gate midway through the final term of a hard-fought contest.

But it mattered little as Franklin grabbed his next opportunity and ran into an open goal in front of the Swans cheer squad to put the exclamation mark on his team's impressive performance.

Marcus Bontempelli (27 disposals), Bailey Smith (27) and Caleb Daniel (30) all won plenty of the ball for the Dogs but couldn't drag their side over the line.

"We were pretty dysfunctional forward of the ball," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"We've had a lot of change sweep through there ... so the chemistry's not always going to be there.

"We've been just doing enough and today they dominated us in their back end."

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