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Blues no match for rampant Swans

Highlights | Carlton vs Sydney Watch all the highlights from Carlton's loss to Sydney in Round 23.

LANCE Franklin will be the leading light for Sydney’s swathe of in-form players entering the finals after the superstar forward ravaged Carlton and threw open the Coleman Medal race with a 10-goal masterclass at the SCG.

Franklin’s mission seemed to stretch beyond guiding his side to a conclusive 81-point win over the Blues in the last home-and-away match and completing one of the AFL’s great comebacks after the Swans horror 0-6 start to 2017. 

With each stupendous goal, the left footed 30-year-old raised the pressure on West Coast marksman Josh Kennedy, who led Franklin by five goals going into the match and trailed by five as the final siren sounded on the 21.12 (138) to 8.9 (57) win.

Kennedy’s West Coast hosts Adelaide on Sunday.

Franklin was at his brilliant best en route to his largest match return for the Swans. 

Three first-half goals included one from distance and two from tight angles, before the floodgates opened in the second half to the delight of the crowd of 38,969.

"They have some real belief in the way they're going about it which is a credit to the leaders, and we've been able to introduce some young players that have been able to give us some excitement as well," coach John Longmire said.

"We have a position on the starting grid but we're not sure where until this weekend finishes, but it gives us an opportunity and that’s what we want, and we start again." 

Franklin’s attention-commanding game didn’t detract from a range of high performers for arguably the competition’s hottest side on finals eve, with Josh Kennedy (30 possessions, six tackles) and Luke Parker (28 and eight) ruling the centre of the ground while Dan Hannebery was given the night off, and Dane Rampe, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith continuing their quest for Sydney to finish with the competition’s most miserly defence. 

Franklin finished with 25 touches and 10 marks, while Gary Rohan and emerging forward Will Hayward scored three goals each.

Carlton was overrun, though Marc Murphy with 32 touches, and Kade Simpson (29) headed a group that never gave up in fan-favourite Dennis Armfield’s final game after 10 seasons at the Blues. 

Forever a Bluebagger. We 💙 you, @darmfield27. #BoundByBlue

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Blaine Boekhorst scored three goals and Charlie Curnow two.  

"We faced a really formidable opponent, who's going to go a long way in the finals, I would have thought, and a pretty special player in Buddy, who got his tail up tonight, no doubt about it," Carlton coach Brendon Bolton said. 

"It wasn’t just Buddy. We couldn’t get enough delay on the footy. Usually we’re pretty good at slowing things up. Today they got some real flow in their ball movement and Buddy was in some great form and kicking them from everywhere."

The Swans owned the first quarter to lead 22-6 and Franklin’s two early majors in the second put them up by 29 points seven minutes in.

However, Carlton sprang to life after that with its best period of the game, potting four unanswered goals to reduce the deficit to just five points, before a Will Hayward goal on the stroke of half-time gave Sydney a lead of 6.7.(43) to 5.1.(31).

The Blues’ comeback was little surprise as, despite losing Irishman Ciaran Byrne to a knee injury, they raised their disposal efficiency with the ball and their workrate without it, to force Sydney onto the back foot. 

The Swans wrenched back the advantage in a gruelling third quarter, scoring seven goals to three, including three goals to Franklin and two to Rohan, the first of which saw the red-headed flyer flip over the boundary signage and into the crowd before re-emerging triumphantly to a mixture of cheers and giggles.

The fourth quarter belonged to Franklin, who scored another four goals.


Sydney: Kurt Tippett was assisted from the ground 18 minutes into the match after jarring his left ankle in a marking contest. He went into the change room with medical staff and re-emerged late in the second term and played out the game. Fellow big man Callum Sinclair rolled his ankle in the second quarter and was taken straight down the race but returned to the match.

Carlton: Ciaran Byrne hyperextended his left knee when Gary Rohan attempted a smother early in the second quarter and hopped off the ground. He played no further part and returned to the bench on crutches. Dale Thomas hobbled off the ground after a collision with Lance Franklin late in the third quarter.

SYDNEY       3.4   6.7  13.10  21.12 (138)
CARLTON     1.0   5.1    8.4     8.9 (57)


Sydney: Franklin 10, Rohan 3, Hayward 3, Tippett, Reid, Kennedy, Newman, Heeney
Carlton: Boekhorst 3, Curnow 2, Pickett, Kreuzer, Casboult 


Sydney: Franklin, Kennedy, Grundy, Parker, Jones, Newman
Carlton: Murphy, Weitering, Gibbs, Simpson, Kreuzer 


Sydney: Tippett (ankle), Sinclair (ankle)
Carlton: Byrne (knee) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Chamberlain, Gavine, Mitchell

Official crowd: 38,965 at the SCG