Sydney have extended their winning streak to 11 games and find themselves sitting on top of the ladder for the first time this season after a 28-point win over West Coast at Patersons Stadium this afternoon.
The Swans were made to fight for the win in an epic third quarter, with neither side willing to give an inch, but kicked clear in the final term to run out 10.19 (79) to 7.9 (51) winners.
Luke Parker was awarded the best on ground medal for his 33-disposal, two-goal performance, with Ben McGlynn (27 disposals, two goals) and Adam Goodes (three goals) also among the best.
The Eagles will face a nervous wait over the availability of key forward Josh Kennedy, who will come under Match Review Panel scrutiny for a high hit in the first term.
Kennedy elected to bump first-year Sydney defender Zac Jones, collecting the 19-year-old high and forcing him from the field for a concussion test.
Jones was subbed off shortly after quarter-time in a worrying sign for the Eagles captaincy candidate, who is likely to face at least one week on the sidelines given the focus on head-high contact this season.
The rain had poured down in Perth all morning, making the game a scrap from the opening bounce and giving the home side some chance of evening the contest in the midfield.
Both sides dropped a tall from their line-up given the conditions, Jamie Cripps coming in for Nic Naitanui (rested) for the Eagles and Gary Rohan replacing Kurt Tippett for the Swans.
They home side were gifted the perfect opening to the match by the umpires, who paid a questionable free kick against Craig Bird 10 metres out from the Eagles’ goal and allowed Jack Darling to kick the first goal of the game.
The visitors opened back through opportunistic snaps by Luke Parker and Adam Goodes, who set a new AFL/VFL games record for Aboriginal footballers, and generally controlled the ball better in the wet.
A goal to Matt Priddis in the dying stages of the quarter kept the margin to single digits at the first break.
The Swans pushed made a serious push after quarter-time, with Parker racking up plenty of the ball, but couldn’t convert their dominance into goals, kicking 2.8 for the term.
Lance Franklin finally gained an edge on Eric Mackenzie when he kicked a goal from a free kick, but missed another attempt from a much harder position.
After withstanding a flood of entries into their backline, the Eagles made the Swans pay with another goal in red time, this time by way of a kick on the outside of Cripps’s boot.
The third quarter was a dogfight, with both sides desperate to get the ball in their hands and desperate not to give their opponents any space.
The tackle count climbed and the Eagles had hands on hips after Goodes kicked his second goal against the run of play, but were given a lift when Scott Lycett took a rare mark and converted from beyond the 50 metre arc.
Luke Shuey added another moments later to bring his side back within six points of the lead, but this time it was Sydney who delivered the dagger in time on, with a Ben McGlynn goal giving them a 13-point advantage at three-quarter time.
Parker, Goodes and McGlynn, who had been Sydney’s best all game, kicked the opening three goals of the final term to ice the contest and keep their side’s winning streak alive.
|GOALS - SYDNEY: Goodes 3; Parker, McGlynn 2; Rampe, Reid, Franklin.|
WEST COAST: Kennedy 2; Darling, Cripps, Lycett, Priddis, Shuey.
BEST - SYDNEY: Parker, McGlynn, Goodes, McVeigh, Rampe, Richards. WEST COAST: Priddis, Shuey, Mackenzie, Gaff, Rosa, Hutchings.
INJURIES - SYDNEY: Jones (concussion). WEST COAST: Rosa (shoulder)
UMPIRES: L Farmer, R Chamberlain, R O’Gorman.
CROWD: 25,076 at Patersons Stadium.