Jarryd Roughead made his 200th AFL match one to remember as the Sydney juggernaut finally came unstuck in a 10-point loss against Hawthorn at the MCG.
The Swans’ undefeated streak finished at 12 games on Saturday night as the reigning premiers won 15.14 (104) to 13.16 (94).
Roughead kicked four goals, three of them coming in the second half as the Hawks seized control of the game in incredible fashion.
Roughead needed 45 seconds in the final quarter to slot his fourth, then two minutes later Paul Puopolo booted his second to give the hosts a 21-point lead that proved insurmountable.
When Puopolo kicked truly, after winning a holding-the-ball free kick for wrapping up Dane Rampe, Hawthorn had kicked nine of the past 11 goals in the game.
“To kick four and get a win like that, you have to be happy,” Roughead told the Seven Network.
The 2014 season has long been regarded as the most even of the modern era, and this result confirms as much – setting up a mighty battle for the minor premiership over the final five rounds.
The Swans, Hawks and Geelong are all level with 13-4 records.
Saturday night’s clash was correctly billed as a genuine blockbuster – 72,760 fans came to see not only a rematch of the 2012 grand final but a potential preview of this season’s premiership decider.
It lived up to such billing with both sides enjoying patches of dominance and playing at a standard more commonly associated with September.
Lance Franklin, up against his old side at the MCG for the first time, was dominant but inaccurate in the first half, booting 2.5.
Franklin and Kurt Tippett nonetheless had combined for four goals by halftime, when the Swans led by seven points.
It then looked like a case of Sydney by how far when Adam Goodes, previously quiet, started the third quarter with two goals in the space of 90 seconds.
But Roughead, Issac Smith and Luke Breust answered with two goals each as the Hawks steadied to take a nine-point lead at the final break.
Goodes was magnificent in the final quarter, kicking another two goals as the Swans threatened to pinch the points.
Had the dual Brownlow medallist been awarded a mark in the goal square with four minutes remaining, there would have only been a kick it in.