AFL Round 17: Sydney v Carlton – Fighting uphill

Sydney is in a unique space. Not only has the side now won 12-straight, a club record-equalling effort, but it has an ability to make sides feel like they’re fighting uphill.

The craziest thing happens in this game, but you may not remember it. The Event didn’t get a lot of attention because those watching expected nothing less. In hindsight, there are many who will want to study this incredible night. Among them: coaches, players, sports doctors and geologists. Yep, geologists.

Before the Event, the game is entertainingly normal.

Eight of the first 10 minutes is played in Sydney’s forward half, but both teams’ entries are poor – not one goal is scored.

Speed eventually breaks the deadlock at seven minutes to quarter time. Gary Rohan proving red is the fastest colour, goaling from just inside an empty 50.

Buddy is rogue and gives away four free kicks for no return. Carlton nails a counter attack. It looks to be the end of scoring until halfback Nick Malceski goals from just outside 50. The Sydney midfield is sent to open the flood gates but there’s no time. Micky M’ouse looks reasonably happy with a one-goal difference.

Through the break, while Carlton strategize, Sydney sneak a little further up the mountain side. When the Blues look up, the Bloods are bearing down on them; they’re thirsty.

The Blues muscle up. The advantage is Sydney’s but there is hope for Carlton. They keep the hosts to one goal and after some crowded fighting, re-establish the quarter-time margin.

The game adopts a rhythm, the sides exchanging consecutive or lone goals to the beat: 2, 1, 2, 2, 1… but Blues debutant Blaine Johnson doesn’t get it and kicks a goal out of turn on the siren. Geez, Johnson! Just one goal and a behind is wedged between at the major recess. GWS beat the Swans at the start of the season, why can’t Carlton?

It’s soon very clear why. And here it is, the Event you won’t find easy to forget: Just after half time, one end of the ground rises, spitting shale and turf scraps over the stunned crowd. It goes up and up until it’s the height of the SCG’s new stand. Each Swan levels up and adopts a super power. Buddy grows to eight foot tall and Lewis Jetta gets wings.

The Carlton players take the foetal position but the Swans are merciless. Their depth is magnificent and intimidating. Goodes is exactly where he needs to be, Franklin kicks the improbable and Parker rises above the pack. Buddy contributes half of Sydney’s 10 goals for the quarter. They increase their lead from seven to 70!

Carlton do well to return to the field for the final term. And they do well to keep the final margin to 71.

Flag contenders will need to play very well to disassemble the Swans unit. Some supernatural skills are also likely required. Too good.


Sydney 18.14 (122)

Carlton 7.9 (51)



Sydney: Franklin, Malceski, Parker, Goodes, McVeigh, Kennedy, Rohan

Carlton: Judd, Mclean, Everitt

Our votes: Kennedy (S) 3, Franklin (S) 2, Goodes (S) 1

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