A stunning seven-goal haul from Sydney rookie Ben Ronke has propelled the Swans to a pulsating eight-point win over Hawthorn.
In just his third AFL match and his first at the MCG, Ronke kicked his side’s first five goals on Friday night then sealed the 12.7 (79) to 10.11 (71) victory with his seventh with a minute left on the clock.
“We thought our boys had a real crack most of the game, to be honest,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
“They had a real crack. ”
“We turned the ball over a bit too much at times … but our persistence was fantastic.”
The Hawks looked to have the momentum when they led by nine points in a thrilling final term.
But Luke Parker – reported for a high bump on Jarman Impey minutes earlier – put his side in front from a set shot after Will Hayward kicked his third goal.
Jake Lloyd was also outstanding for Sydney with 36 possessions, with Parker (28 disposals and two goals) influential.
Jack Gunston booted five goals for Hawthorn, with James Sicily and Shaun Burgoyne the leading possession-winners with 26 apiece.
The driving rain that lashed Melbourne throughout the day eased ahead of the opening bounce but conditions were still tricky at the MCG.
A battle in the mould of the fabled 1993 shootout between Gary Ablett and Paul Salmon was on the cards when Gunston matched Ronke’s four first-quarter goals with three of his own.
The Hawks led by two points as the second quarter got underway, but the visitors enjoyed a purple patch without rewarding themselves on the scoreboard.
Ronke’s fifth goal came after he danced around Ben McEvoy, but his streak ended when Hayward goaled to send his side into the main break with a six-point lead.
Eight points was the highest margin of the tight contest approaching three-quarter time, but Luke Breust bobbed up with back-to-back goals to give the Hawks an 11-point advantage.
The last three matches between the two sides ended in five, six and six-point wins to Hawthorn and another tight finish looked likely when Hayward goaled inside the first minute of the final term.
Ronke’s spectacular sixth major levelled the scores and set up the thrilling final act of an enthralling encounter in front of 32,784 fans.
“I thought Sydney hunted the ball in the contest a lot better than what we did,” Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said.
“When it comes to a close game … sometimes the team that wants it the most wins the game.
“I felt that over the course of the game, to their credit, they were a bit hungrier and a bit more polished with their numbers around the ball,” he said.
The Hawks (5-3) move on to play Brisbane at the Gabba in round nine, while the Swans (5-3) will host Fremantle at the SCG.