By Chelsea Gibbs (NEAFL MEDIA)
Sydney has staged an incredible comeback to run over Sydney University and book themselves a Preliminary Final berth with a stunning nine-point victory at GIANTS Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Swans were 27-points down in the final term before slamming on the next five majors – the last coming courtesy of a running effort from the wing by Justin McInerney – to storm home 15.11 (101) 14.8 (92) winners.
Swans NEAFL coach, Jeremy Laidler, acknowledges his side’s turnaround and is now looking to focus on their battle against the undefeated Brisbane Lions next weekend.
“I thought we played okay football for three quarters but after half-time we came out a bit flat footed,” he told sydneyswans.com.au.
“But to come back from 27 points down, I was really proud of the effort and intensity they showed in the last quarter.
“We really look forward to playing against the Lions, they’re undefeated, and we will need a four quarter effort and consistency across the field to compete at their level.
“But we are up to the challenge and we can’t wait for next Sunday.”
Both sides battled with the wet and windy conditions but it was Josh Stern who kicked the first two majors of the game after flawless sets of plays from the Students.
The Swans arrived late to the contest after struggling to return serve, being left goalless up until the 16th minute. But it was Sam Thorne who booted a goal to give the Swans the momentum to snatch an eight-point buffered over the Students heading into the second term.
The Swans surrendered their lead to the Students by half-time resulting in a heated exchange between the two sides as they made their way back to the sheds.
With the Students margin blowing out to a game high of 27 points early in the last, thanks to a six-goal-to-three third term, they looked to be already packing their bags for the airport.
With the wind in the Students sails, the Swans needed a miracle to turn the tide around. But they did just that, with experience leading them to boot six consecutive goals to finish the match and keep their season alive.
McInerney was brilliant all day to finish with 19 disposals, seven clearances, 10 inside 50s and a goal, whilst James Rose was his usual prolific self with 28 disposals, 10 tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and two majors.
Sam Wicks was the catalyst in the clinches, racking up an incredible 16 tackles to go with his 21 disposals, seven clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal.
For Sydney University, NEAFL MVP Jake Bartholomaeus (29 disposals, 11 tackles, eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and Lewis Stevenson (30 disposals, seven clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) battled hard in the midfield and Harry Morrison and Stern combined for eight goals.
But the match was there for the taking, it was last year’s runner-up who rose to the occasion to be one match away from an unprecedented sixth NEAFL Grand Final appearance.
Sydney Swans v Sydney University at GIANTS Stadium
SYDNEY 3.4 6.8 9.10 15.11 (101)
SYDNEY UNI 2.2 7.3 13.7 14.8 (92)
GOALS – Sydney: H McLean 3 C Hirst 2 J Rose 2 M Rossmann S Thorne R van Huisstede S Wicks M Knoll J McInerney S Naismith Z Foot. Sydney Uni: H Morrison 4 J Stern 4 S Fong 2 N Foster J Bartholomaeus T Davies L Stevenson.
BEST – Sydney: J McInerney J Rose T Pink S Naismith E Gulden H McLean. Sydney Uni: T Banuelos N Reinhard J Stern J Bartholomaeus S Tagliabue L Stevenson.