Lance Franklin flexed his muscle and Sydney did the same in an eventful 50-point AFL victory over Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
Franklin finished with five goals, his biggest haul and most impressive performance since heading north on a $10-million deal last year, as the Swans won 18.6 (114) to 9.10 (64).
The 27-year-old looked sharp and reproduced the sort of explosive dominance that came to define his time at Hawthorn, booting three goals in the space of 10 minutes during the second quarter.
Aside from Franklin finishing the game one short of 600 career goals and the Swans strengthening their hold on a top-four spot, two third-quarter incidents delivered the game’s main talking points.
Umpire Troy Pannell was knocked senseless, vomited when he regained conscious and left the field on a stretcher after an accidental collision with Sydney’s rebounding defender Nick Malceski.
Malceski was looking elsewhere when he clattered into Pannell’s head.
Garry Lyon, calling the game for Triple M, suggested the match review panel would not punish him.
“He has nothing to worry about at all. If he is cited there’s going to be one enormous stink,” Lyon said.
Swans midfielder Daniel Hannebery may not be so lucky after he careered into Michael Hurley’s neck.
Hannebery was hunting the Sherrin and there was no malice in the bump, but he nonetheless felled Hurley when the Bombers defender had his head over the ball.
Hurley was forced from the ground but eventually returned to the fray.
Franklin outmuscled opponent Hurley to clutch a game-high four contested marks, but this was a triumph built on the back of 22 players not No.23.
“We’re playing some pretty good football, but there’s still a lot of the season to go,” Franklin said of his side’s premiership prospects heading into their round-10 bye.
The visitors had already built a 29-point lead before Franklin was lining up his first shot on goal late in the opening term.
Josh Kennedy, who tallied a game-high 39 disposals and 10 clearances, Kieren Jack and Hannebery were all magnificent in the middle.
Luke Parker was likewise influential and finished with two goals, while Jarrad McVeigh and Kurt Tippett each slotted three goals.
Bombers coach Mark Thompson, who defended his decision to name tall utility Jake Carlisle the substitute, was full of praise for Sydney.
“Easily,” Thompson replied when asked if it was the best team the Bombers had played this season.
“The Swans were just incredible in the first quarter … (after that) I didn’t think we were a chance to win.
“We were just hanging on, trying to get our players to keep playing and we did that and that’s what I was happy about.
“There were a lot of positives tonight, stupid as that sounds.”
Swans coach John Longmire was impressed with his side’s accurate goal-kicking and pressure in the opening term.
“It just makes such a big difference,” Longmire said.