/ GAA

Sydney Swans hold off Hawthorn comeback to take AFL title

Updated: Saturday, 29 Sep 2012 13:27 | Comments

The Swans claimed only their second premiership in 79 years Mike Pyke of the Swans celebrates after the game
The Swans claimed only their second premiership in 79 years Mike Pyke of the Swans celebrates after the game

The Sydney Swans kicked the final four goals of the match to respond to a furious Hawthorn comeback and beat the Hawks 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81) in the Australian Football League grand final on Saturday before 99,683 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The Swans, who had just one win and a draw in their previous 15 games at the ground, won a game of wild momentum swings.

Hawthorn led by 19 points early but Sydney kicked six goals to none in the second quarter to go into halftime 16 points in front.

But the Hawks responded with seven of eight goals in the third quarter, only for the Swans to wrest the game back in the closing stages and claim only their second premiership in 79 years.

The Swans relocated from South Melbourne to Sydney in 1982 and won the title in 2005 in a similar nail-biting contest.

The game was played in gusty but dry conditions despite a forecast of hail and rain throughout the match.

Former Kerry footballer Tommy Walsh was not involved for the Swans. 

Hawthorn midfielder Brad Sewell missed two snaps for goal in the final minutes, the first of which would have levelled the scores and the second which would have given the Hawks the lead had they been accurate.

With Sydney leading by four points, the sealing goal came with 34 seconds left when defender Nick Malceski, who had kicked Sydney's first goal from a near-impossible angle, slotted another snap goal and was besieged by jubilant teammates.

Only four Swans -- Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Jude Bolton and Ryan O'Keefe -- playing on Saturday were part of the club's 2005 title, with Malceski one of another three that played in the 2006 grand final when they lost by one point to West Coast.

Goodes, Sydney's talismanic figure, paraded the AFL trophy around the ground Saturday with his teammates in tow, many stopping to salute the thousands of fans who travelled from Sydney for the final.

Josh Kennedy, traded from Hawthorn to Sydney in 2010, was among five Swans to kick two goals and continue an AFL premiership tradition. His grandfather, John Kennedy Sr., coached the club to their first premiership in 1961 and subsequent league titles in 1971 and 1976. Josh Kennedy's father, John Jr., won four premierships with Hawthorn in 1983, 1986, 1988 and 1989.

Sydney ruckman Mike Pyke, who formerly played with Canada's national rugby union team, became the first Canadian to play in an AFL grand final and was among his team's best players, entrusted with being his team's key big man in the nerve-fraying last quarter after Shane Mumford was substituted.

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