This was a highly anticipated contest between two top-four sides and realistic premiership aspirants. The pressure was high throughout, and it proved what some Swans fans have been quietly contemplating in the back of their heads: they’re good, but not quite as good just yet as teams like Brisbane, who were bigger, stronger and meaner when it mattered.
“When good teams play each other, sometimes you have to win the game a few times,” Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said.
“I was just really proud of our guys that the number of times Sydney did come at us that they actually didn’t get in front and we were able to steady and kick away. It’s only round seven, but it’s a sign of good maturity, I think, when a team can do that, and we’ve been striving for that kind of maturity for a little while now.”
In a clash that was pretty much decided in midfield, Lachie Neale was a cut above the rest, grabbing 11 clearances to go with a game-high 37 possessions and nine tackles.
When the Lions turned the screws with their five-goal second term, it was Dayne Zorko (22 disposals) getting it started with two goals within the opening five minutes – both from long-distance, the first almost straight out of the middle, the second after the Lions had mopped up a spilled mark from Will Hayward in dangerous territory.
The Swans’ slightly greener on-ball unit couldn’t stay with them, while in defence, Brisbane’s Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner were aerially imperious as per usual.
Sydney’s Tom Papley, making his return from a hamstring injury, barely had an impact in a game where his team could have really done with his trademark energy infusions.
Franklin’s bag of 6.0 took his career tally to 1013; it’s still early in 2022, but he looks to have more than enough petrol in the tank to go around at least once more after his contract expires this year. He should have kicked at least seven goals after having an early set shot from his favoured territory, 55 metres out in the corner, unfairly ruled out: Buddy’s shot appeared to cross the line just before Darcy Fort got his hand to it, but the score reviewers deemed there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the umpire’s original decision.
Fox Sports later showed Gardiner stepping off his mark while Franklin was taking his kick in a brazen breach of the ‘stand’ rule, so either way, it should have been six points.
There were only two goals, one to each team, kicked in what was an arm-wrestle of an opening quarter – and it took 10 minutes until a delightful Callum Mills kick stopped Errol Gulden to end the deadlock with a left-footed snap. The quarter-time score of 9-9 put the attacking onslaught that followed from Brisbane in true perspective.