AFL premiership favourites Sydney survived a scare from the struggling Richmond to post an 11-point win at the MCG on Friday night, their ninth consecutive victory.
Star forward Lance Franklin was well held by Richmond’s Alex Rance for most of the match but stood up when it counted, kicking the only two goals of the final term after the Tigers had led by a point at three-quarter time.
Sydney (10-3 win-loss) claimed victory 9.8 (62) to 7.9 (51) with Franklin kicking four goals in front of a crowd of 34,633.
For the Tigers, who had led the Swans by 14 points at halftime, it was another case of what could have been, following their loss to North Melbourne a fortnight ago when Richmond had been 35 points in front at the main break of that game.
Skipper Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin were two of the stars for the Tigers, who have lost 10 of 13 games this season.
Anthony Miles and Jack Riewoldt booted two goals each and Riewoldt found it tough going against Sydney defender Ted Richards.
Cotchin had a stunning 14 disposals in the opening term. The Tigers grabbed a three-goal advantage at quarter-time, 4.2 (26) to 1.2 (8).
A running goal to Brett Deledio and Riewoldt’s strong mark and second goal of the match put the Tigers 26 points ahead at the 17-minute mark of the second term.
The Swans finally found a way through Richmond’s disciplined defence as Franklin booted his second goal for the term and Kieren Jack roved the pack in the goal square to close the gap to 14 points at halftime.
Sydney subbed in 19-year-old debutant Zak Jones at the start of the third term for Rhyce Shaw who had limped off with a suspected ankle injury in the second quarter.
The Swans spent much of the third term in attack and kicked three consecutive goals to move five points clear before Anthony Miles put through a long bomb after the three-quarter-time siren to give the lead back to the Tigers, 7.6 (48) to 7.5 (47).
Franklin added his third and fourth goals, stepping up when the game was on the line once again, as the Swans went nine points clear at the 20-minute mark of the final term.
Onballer Josh Kennedy was a tireless worker for the Swans, finishing with 24 disposals and 12 tackles.