The Newsroom reviews the 2016 AFL semi-finals.
The Sydney Swans demolished the Adelaide Crows 118-82 at the Sydney Cricket Ground to progress to the preliminary finals next week.
The Swans were dominant from the get-go in the first finals match played at the SCG since 2005. Lance Franklin tormented the opposition, scoring four goals for the game. Isaac Heeney and Josh Kennedy helped the Swans blow the Crows away in the first quarter, scoring seven goals that the Adelaide outfit were always going to struggle to pull back. The Crows didn’t give up and played some good footy in the third quarter but it wasn’t enough.
The win came at a price for the Swans though as injuries marred the game. Captain Jarrad McVeigh limped off with a calf problem and Gary Rohan leaving on a stretcher with possible structural damage to a knee. Both are in serious doubt for the prelim.
Coach John Longmire acknowledged the importance of the win, an emphatic response by his team to their humbling loss to the GWS Giants last week.
“There are no secrets to it, we brought enormous energy and intensity tonight,” he said. “The boys are a pretty proud group and were pretty disappointed with the way they played last week. We missed a couple of really good players before the game and lost a couple halfway through the second (quarter tonight), and to the players credit they kept going, and it was a really strong performance.”
Bulldogs end Hawks’ three-year dynasty
The Western Bulldogs did the unthinkable on Friday night and eliminated the Hawthorn Hawks from the finals at the MCG, beating the reigning Premiers 107-84 in front of a massive crowd – 87,823 footy fans who may well have considered a Hawks win inevitable. The Hawks got off to a flyer, taking an 18-point lead, but then the momentum shifted and the Dogs took over.
Liam Picken was the Dogs’ best of show, making 24 disposals and kicking three goals. It was a fairytale outing for the Bulldogs, downing the team that had held the premiership since 2013 in front of the biggest crowd they’ve seen.
Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson was generous in defeat, praising the Bulldogs: “Unfortunately we weren’t good enough tonight. The Bulldogs played a fantastic brand of footy. It’s no good this losing caper. We’re not used to it this time of year. Our guys deserve a break. We didn’t plan that it was going to be tonight, but we acknowledge the work they have done in pretty trying circumstances throughout the year.”
The Bulldogs, who have not won a title since 1954, will face the Giants at Spotless Stadium in the preliminary final on Saturday night. The Swans will meet the Geelong Cats at the MCG on Friday night. An historic all-Sydney Grand Final may yet happen. – Jesse Mullens
Photo of some of the Swans players celebrating from the AFL’s Twitter feed.