Sydney will play in its fourth Grand Final in 10 years and compete for its third premiership in that period after it comprehensively outplayed North Melbourne in Friday night's First Preliminary Final as Stadium Australia. The Swans set the tone of the match with a four-goal-to-one first quarter and increased their lead at each change, ultimately winning by 71 points to become the first team into this year's premiership decider.
Sam Reid kicked the night off with a "poster" in the second minute of the match, giving Sydney a one-point buffer before Ben Brown, playing in just his 11th AFL match, marked and goaled from 35 metres out to give North a five-point lead. Sadly for the Kangaroos, it was a lead that was to last just a few minutes and not be regained for the rest of the evening. A rushed behind to the Swans at the 10-minute mark was followed by Sydney's first major - to 350-gamer Adam Goodes - at the 15-minute mark, giving the Bloods an advantage they would not surrender. Kurt Tippett chimed in with his first at the 20-minuter mark, and Lance Franklin and Lewis Jetta got in on the act before the first quarter ended, giving Sydney a 21-point lead, 4.5 to 1.2, at the first break.
Todd Goldstein got the Roos off to a positive start in the second term with a goal after receiving a handball from Lindsay Thomas at the one-minute mark and Drew Petrie then had a chance to cut the margin to less than 10 points with a shot from 50 two minutes later, but he pulled his kick to the left. The Swans took full advantage of the miss and by the five-minute mark Goodes had his second, restoring the quarter-time margin. The two sides traded behinds over the next few minutes before Luke Parker marked and kicked truly at the 11-minute mark, taking Sydney's lead to 28 points. Kieran Jack added another two minutes later before Levi Greenwood seized on a loose ball at the 15-minute mark to goal and cut the difference back to 28. The Swans added two further behinds before Parker took a screamer and converted at the 25-minute mark to make the margin an even six goals. Ben Brown and Tippett each added another major after that and the margin was 36 points the Swans way at the long break.
The Kangaroos needed to fire the first shot in the second half to give themselves a chance but it was Sydney's Franklin who kicked the first major of the third term to take the lead out to 43 points and effectively kill off the contest. North fought had for the rest of the quarter, restricting Sydney to just three more goals while adding two of their own through Petrie and Brent Harvey but the margin at three-quarter time was an insurmountable 52 points.
With little more than pride to play for, North opened the last term brightly with a goal to Shaun Atley within the first minute but the Swans had answered that with two behinds and another goal to Franklin before the quarter was five minutes old. He was to kick his fifth five minutes later and further goals to Parker, Goodes (two), Tippett and Craig Bird saw the Swans finish with 19 goals for the match. Drew Petrie added some vague respectability to the scoreboard with a couple of last-quarter goals but when the final siren sounded, Sydney had recorded a thumping 71-point win to charge into the Grand Final.
Franklin was a standout for the Swans, with five goals and 11 marks, while Luke Parker (26 possessions and eight tackles) and Josh Kennedy (27 disposals and seven tackles) also played major roles in the win. For North, Ben Cunnington played a great game, collecting 28 touches and laying four tackles, while Greenwood (21 possessions and a goal) and Nick Dal Santo (24 touches) never stopped trying.
Sydney will now take on Hawthorn in next week's Grand Final, with Lance Franklin to take on his old team and attempt to become just the third player in history to win consecutive flags with different clubs. Jim Martin did it for Essendon and Fitzroy in 1912 and 1913, while Tom Fitzmaurice also achieved that unusual double with Essendon and Geelong in 1924 and 1925.
North, while its season ended in a disappointing fashion, can view the year as a successful one, advancing to its first Preliminary Final in seven years. The challenge for the Kangaroos is to do that again in 2015, and perhaps go one or two steps further.
Sydney: Franklin 5; Tippett 4; Parker, Goodes 3; Jetta, Jack, McGlynn, Bird
North Melbourne: Petrie 3; Brown 2; Goldstein, Greenwood, Harvey, Atley
BEST - SMH.COM.AU
Sydney: Franklin, Kennedy, Rohan, Parker, Goodes, Tippett, Jack
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Greenwood, Dal Santo, Petrie, Firrito
BEST - AFL.COM.AU
Sydney: Franklin, Parker, Kennedy, Rohan, Tippett, Cunningham, Jack, McGlynn
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Brown, Greenwood, Dal Santo
John Longmire (Syd): It was a good all round performance. To start the way we did against a team that's won six in a row, I thought from the first bounce we went about it in a really professional manner and did what we had to do. It was a really well-rounded win. It's hard to win a Preliminary Final. I was at a club [North Melbourne] that played seven Preliminary Finals in a row and we got to three Grand Finals and only won two flags. It's a difficult thing to do to win a Prelim. You've got to enjoy that moment tonight but then attend to any injuries and sore spots, enjoy the week and switch on and switch off at the right times.
Brad Scott (NM): We didn't execute what we wanted to, to the best of our ability but there's a suspicion that even if we did, we were outclassed. Full credit's got to go to an outstanding football team in the Swans. They terrific in the contest, really efficient, punished us for every mistake we made and that's the hallmark of a really, really good side building towards a great side. While we didn't think we were at our best, I'm not sure even that would have been good enough.
Sydney: Sam Reid (right knee)
North Melbourne: Scott Thompson (corked hip)
Sydney: Sam Reid (right knee) replaced by Craig Bird at three-quarter time
North Melbourne: Aaron Black replaced by Ryan Bastinac in the third quarter
UMPIRES: Nicholls, Meredith, Pannell
TELEVISION BROADCAST: Seven Network
COMMENTATORS: Bruce McAvaney, Dennis Cometti, Leigh Matthews, Tom Harley, Wayne Carey, Tim Watson, Jude Bolton
Video sourced from YouTube, courtesy of AFL Media.
|14||Bird, Craig||4||2||5||9||1||0||0||1||1||0||25y 241d||130||53|
|7||Cunningham, Harry||7||4||7||14||0||2||0||4||0||0||20y 287d||30||19|
|23||Franklin, Lance 'Buddy'||18||11||5||23||5||2||0||3||2||2||27y 232d||203||655|
|37||Goodes, Adam||10||5||7||17||3||1||0||2||1||0||34y 254d||350||437|
|39||Grundy, Heath||4||4||5||9||0||0||0||2||0||1||28y 109d||163||23|
|4||Hannebery, Dan||8||3||14||22||0||1||0||4||0||2||23y 207d||119||54|
|15||Jack, Kieren||13||3||10||23||1||0||0||4||1||1||27y 83d||162||118|
|32||Jetta, Lewis||9||5||2||11||1||0||0||3||0||3||25y 138d||102||85|
|12||Kennedy, Josh||12||2||15||27||0||2||0||7||1||0||26y 91d||133||79|
|44||Lloyd, Jake||6||4||8||14||0||0||0||3||0||0||20y 364d||20||8|
|9||Malceski, Nick||16||3||2||18||0||0||0||2||0||0||30y 35d||175||67|
|21||McGlynn, Ben||12||3||7||19||1||0||0||4||2||1||29y 44d||143||164|
|3||McVeigh, Jarrad||11||4||3||14||0||0||0||3||0||0||29y 165d||243||172|
|26||Parker, Luke||9||8||17||26||3||1||2||8||1||2||21y 329d||81||60|
|38||Pyke, Mike||5||1||5||10||0||0||30||1||1||1||30y 179d||89||44|
|24||Rampe, Dane||7||1||4||11||0||0||0||2||0||2||24y 109d||47||4|
|20||Reid, Sam||3||5||5||8||0||2||0||1||1||0||22y 266d||75||78|
|25||Richards, Ted||4||3||6||10||0||0||0||1||0||1||31y 251d||230||32|
|16||Rohan, Gary||12||5||11||23||0||0||0||0||1||0||23y 104d||42||29|
|2||Shaw, Rhyce||14||0||6||20||0||0||0||2||1||0||32y 338d||212||43|
|40||Smith, Nick||8||2||5||13||0||0||0||2||1||0||26y 99d||120||9|
|8||Tippett, Kurt||10||9||5||15||4||2||12||2||0||2||27y 134d||129||256|
|North Melbourne||Match Stats||Career|
|18||Atley, Shaun||10||3||9||19||1||0||0||0||1||0||22y 6d||86||11|
|3||Bastinac, Ryan||3||1||3||6||0||1||0||1||0||0||23y 89d||104||58|
|35||Black, Aaron||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||2||0||0||23y 294d||47||63|
|50||Brown, Ben||6||4||2||8||2||0||1||2||1||0||21y 303d||11||18|
|10||Cunnington, Ben||14||3||14||28||0||0||0||4||0||0||23y 81d||99||42|
|15||Dal Santo, Nick||7||3||17||24||0||0||2||2||1||0||30y 209d||285||149|
|11||Firrito, Michael||9||8||11||20||0||0||0||4||1||1||30y 296d||230||29|
|43||Gibson, Sam||9||2||10||19||0||0||0||1||2||1||28y 115d||60||22|
|22||Goldstein, Todd||4||1||8||12||1||0||29||2||1||1||26y 80d||125||59|
|24||Greenwood, Levi||13||1||8||21||1||0||0||1||4||1||25y 212d||74||26|
|17||Grima, Nathan||8||5||3||11||0||0||0||3||0||0||29y 45d||86||1|
|29||Harvey, Brent||13||3||6||19||1||1||0||6||1||0||36y 128d||384||458|
|5||Jacobs, Ben||7||2||4||11||0||0||0||2||1||0||22y 253d||47||8|
|21||McDonald, Luke||7||2||6||13||0||1||0||2||1||0||19y 222d||23||0|
|20||Petrie, Drew||14||8||1||15||3||4||0||3||2||1||31y 339d||269||359|
|9||Swallow, Andrew||10||4||8||18||0||0||0||6||0||2||27y 109d||164||72|
|12||Thomas, Lindsay||6||3||9||15||0||0||0||2||0||0||26y 202d||153||249|
|16||Thompson, Scott||2||2||7||9||0||0||0||0||1||1||28y 133d||136||6|
|40||Turner, Kayne||5||3||2||7||0||0||0||2||0||2||18y 262d||6||8|
|8||Wells, Daniel||9||7||6||15||0||1||0||0||0||0||29y 228d||222||145|
|19||Wright, Sam||13||7||9||22||0||0||0||0||0||2||24y 66d||84||54|
|7||Ziebell, Jack||5||2||10||15||0||1||0||5||1||2||23y 203d||100||57|