Swans continue resurgence by downing Saints
PLAYING finals after starting the season 0-6 seems rather far-fetched.
But two years ago, so did the idea of Donald Trump winning a US presidential election.
While the Swans must smash the history books to reach the eight by season's end, the evenness of the competition makes the task all the more achievable.
Records are made to be broken, as the old adage goes.
And if Sydney's last fortnight has confirmed anything, it's that the Swans are back. Now they just need to keep winning.
Premiership midfielder Dan Hannebery has epitomised the Swans' resurgence and again excelled to ensure the 50-point win over St Kilda at Etihad Stadium was never in doubt.
"It was a really tough start for the footy club. Losing the first six games of the season, our worst ever start. Our senior players were down, including myself," Hannebery said on Fox Footy.
"There was a lot of pressure to perform over the last three weeks and as a group we've got the job down. There's still a long way to go, but it's a start to redeeming our season.
"Our leaders - and especially (coach John Longmire) - we just spoke about the little things, like caring about your teammates and not worrying about yourself. It's under 10s type stuff, but it really works and stands up in AFL football."
St Kilda was one man short from quarter time, with milestone man Jack Newnes failing a concussion test after a big bump, which may land Callum Mills in trouble. Maverick Weller was also hamstrung, but played out the match.
Hannebery kicked two first quarter goals and finished the match with 30 touches and seven tackles. A clever tap which resulted in a Lance Franklin goal won't receive a mention on the stats sheet, but it was sheer class.
Franklin was well held by Nathan Brown in the first half, but broke the shackles towards the end of the match and finished with four majors to boost his season tally to 27. Three of those goals were kicked in the final quarter.
Sydney has now won 12 of their past 13 matches at Etihad Stadium, their home away from home.
"We love coming down here, it's a great deck," Franklin said on Fox Footy.
Like Hannebery, Franklin indicated the playing group, especially the leaders, had done some soul searching to recapture their 2016 form.
"We had to get back to the basics. So that's win the contested ball and then from there be able to spread and kick a few goals," Franklin said.
"We knew we had to be really strong in the contest. The last three weeks we've worked hard and that really sets us up. It was a great win."
Captain Josh Kennedy (35 disposals) was a warrior, while emerging defender Nic Newman racked up 30 touches across halfback and pushed forward to kick a goal in the third term.
Dane Rampe returned to play his 100th match after breaking his arm earlier this year. While he only had the 13 touches, his ability to leave his man and attack the contest was crucial. He will only get better as the year progresses.