Sydney has prevailed over a gallant Essendon side by seven points in front of an empty MCG on Sunday.
The two finals hopefuls put an exciting show on for football fans stuck at home, with the game swinging like a pendulum as the teams swapped goals in the third and fourth terms.
Ultimately, it was a strong post half-time burst from Sydney followed by a strong last quarter effort which saw them get over the line and press their top four claims.
In what has become a hallmark of the revamped Swans’ game, they were able to gain control by dominating in the air and using the ball with remarkable efficiency.
Despite being beaten at the contest in both clearances and contested possessions, the Swans were able to go at 78% with ball in hand and take 108 uncontested marks to the Bombers’ 59.
Callum Mills (33 disposals, one goal), Jordan Dawson (24 disposals), Luke Parker (26 disposals, two goals) and Tom Papley (four goals, 17 disposals) were the Swans’ best, while Zach Merrett (35 disposals, two goals) and Darcy Parish (34 disposals) continued their stunning seasons for Essendon.
Essendon defender Jayden Laverde suffered what looked to be like a right shoulder injury while Sydney seemed to escape the clash relatively healthy.
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Sydney officially stakes top four charge
The Swans are now equal on points with fourth placed Port Adelaide and are a game clear of fifth placed Brisbane with three rounds remaining.
With North Melbourne, Gold Coast and St Kilda to play, they’re every chance of going into September with eight straight wins to their name and with the double chance.
Clearly there’s work yet to be done, but the Swans’ recent run of form has them looking like a side that couldn’t only just make it deep in finals, but cause some serious damage while they’re there.
They seem to be timing their run to perfection, it’s time to get excited if you’re a Sydney fan.
Bombers left to rue agonising fortnight
While the result solidifies Sydney’s spot in the top eight, it also consigns the Bombers outside of it.
While they’re still in with a shot to play September, Bombers fans will think of what could have been if things broke their way in the last two weeks.
The Bombers had every right to beat both GWS last week and Sydney today, and victories there would have seen them near locks to play finals footy.
If they can cause an upset against the Bulldogs next week, they can dare to dream.
But at this stage, finals look a bridge too far for the Dons in 2021.
Essendon face the ladder leading Bulldogs on Friday night as they look to keep their finals hopes alive while the Swans take on St Kilda on Sunday.
Essendon: 3.3, 6.5, 11.5, 16.6. (102)
Sydney: 2.1, 4.5, 11.7, 17.7. (109)
Essendon: Langford 3, Smith 2, Wright 2, Merrett 2, Stringer 2, Shiel, Clarke, Cutler, Hind, McDonald-Tipungwuti
Sydney: Papley 4, Franklin 2, Hayward 2, Parker 2, Reid, Blakey, Gulden, Hickey, Kennedy, Mills, Wicks
Essendon: Zach Merrett, Darcy Parish, Jake Stringer, Kyle Langford, Dyson Heppell
Sydney : Callum Mills, Jordan Dawson, Tom Papley, Luke Parker, Justin McInerney