Sydney have produced a courageous final quarter effort to beat Collingwood by 11 points and regain fourth spot on the AFL ladder, effectively ending the Pies finals hopes.
Outplayed and slightly outscored in the middle quarters, Sydney kicked five goals to two in the final quarter at the SCG on Friday to eke out a 13.9 (87) to 10.16 (76) win in front of almost 39,000 spectators.
They looked in big trouble early in the last term when they were down a man after midfield dynamo Luke Parker was driven off on a stretcher after his leg became twisted underneath Taylor Adams in a contest.
Defying the adversity, however, Sydney slammed on three straight goals to turn a six-point deficit into a 12-point lead.
It was yet another heartbreaking defeat for the Pies following narrow losses to Hawthorn, Richmond, Fremantle and Port Adelaide.
Sparked by a 38-possession performance form Dane Swan, Collingwood recovered from a 20-point first quarter deficit to lead by five going into the last term.
Wayward goalkicking proved costly, as Sydney’s greater accuracy proved decisive.
A career-best 41 possessions, 26 of them handballs, to Tom Mitchell helped the Swans earn the win which at least temporarily lifts them into fourth above the Western Bulldogs.
Well-taken goals from Jamie Elliott and Travis Varcoe got the Magpies to within eight points at the first change following their tardy start.
Collingwood shaded possessions and inside 50s in the second quarter and reduced the deficit to five by halftime.
The Pies dictated terms in the third quarter, doubling their score and taking a five-point lead at the last change.
Gary Rohan kept Sydney in the game with two booming set shot goals from outside 50 metres and veteran Adam Goodes added his second of the night.
They were among four players to kick two goals for Sydney, with no-on managing more than one major for the visitors.
Sydney brought on Jake Lloyd for Jeremy Laidler at halftime.
The returning Travis Cloke grabbed four first quarter marks but ended the night with 1.1.
Back in the second quarter, Parker showed his toughness by bouncing back to his feet after he was caught by a high bump form Nathan Brown, who was reported.
Swans’ coach John Longmire said Parker had likely broken his ankle and suggested he probably wouldn’t play again this season.
He described the win as a super effort given the Swans were running low on fit troops near the end.
“It was probably right up there with one of our better wins as far as everything going against us, we weren’t playing super footy,” Longmire said.
“In the last quarter when Parker went down we had (Isaac) Heeney on the bench sore, I think Gary Rohan’s knee was sore and we’d already lost Laidler with a hamstring.
“We found a way in the end to be able to get there and win.”
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley pretty much conceded the Pies were now out of the finals race.
“We set ourselves for this week and treated it like a final and it feels like we’ve lost a final,” Buckley said.
“Because really our finals hopes were on the line tonight and we weren’t able to get the result that we wanted.”
He felt they had enough opportunities to win the game, but lamented their inaccuracy.
“We kicked 3.5 from 15 to 30 metres out from set shots and that’s bad footy,” Buckley said.
Asked about Brown’s report, Buckley described it as “a solid contact” and presumed his defender had his eyes on the ball, but said he hadn’t seen a replay.