Sydney have snapped a four-game AFL losing streak and compounded Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson’s woes, recording an upset seven-point win with a fired-up Tom Papley running amok at a slippery SCG.
Papley booted four goals to grab best-on-ground honours and top spot on the Coleman medal leaderboard, helping his team to come from behind and triumph 9.6 (60) to 7.11 (53).
Papley produced a rare 12-point play late in Saturday afternoon’s second term which proved decisive in the low-scoring scrap, taking full advantage of a costly and inexcusable free kick from Hawks veteran James Frawley.
Co-captains Luke Parker and Dane Rampe also starred for the Swans, marshalling an inexperienced midfield and backline respectively, while Jake Lloyd and Callum Mills also stood up.
Rampe’s desperate defending and incisive kicking was all the more impressive given he suffered a hand injury in the opening half.
Four-time premiership coach Clarkson, whose future has somehow become a talking point thanks mainly to Hawks president Jeff Kennett, will be happy to see the end of his club’s stint in Sydney.
Hawthorn, who shift into a Queensland hub, have gone 0-4 while calling Coogee home.
James Worpel, Jaeger O’Meara and Liam Shiels helped the visitors to win the contested-ball count, 146-134, and ensured they were in front for almost the entire opening half.
However, Papley single-footedly swung momentum and cut Hawthorn’s lead to two points at the major break.
The small forward soccered a goal late in the first half, outmanoeuvring 2018 Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell before getting in the face of his former teammate and letting him know all about it.
Key defender Frawley ran in to remonstrate but instead made it back-to-back goals for Sydney, bowling over the pint-sized Swan as Clarkson cringed in the coaches’ box.
“He (Mitchell) might have had a word to me 20 seconds before that,” Papley told Fox Footy.
“I’m proud of the younger guys. We needed them to stand up and they did.”
The surging Swans upped their pressure and continued the comeback after halftime, seeking to move the ball more aggressively and creatively despite some driving rain and the fact Hawthorn boasted some 1000-plus games more experience.
They were duly rewarded and held on during a frantic final quarter.
Papley’s fourth goal was a cracker. The 24-year-old outbodied Blake Hardwick in a marking contest near the 50m arc, taking off and running into an open goal.
Sam Reid’s return helped the injury-riddled Swans, creating the sort of forward-line structure that coach John Longmire could only dream of in recent weeks.
Second-gamer Elijah Taylor was lively throughout the day and made his first goal one to remember, snapping brilliantly from the pocket in a fashion which presumably impressed the previous owner of his No.37 jersey.