Caught flat-footed in the first half, Hawthorn surged from behind after the main break to win a nine-point thriller on Saturday night at the SCG, locking in a ‘double chance’ top four AFL spot in the finals.
The Hawks trailed by 19 at halftime after a powerhouse Sydney performance.
But a seemingly revitalised and focused Hawthorn kicked nine goals to four in the second half to win 12.11 (83) to 10.14 (74) and record the sixth straight win.
The Swans suffered two blows before the game with stars Lance Franklin and Luke Parker both pulling out with groin strains.
It was the Hawks’ fifth consecutive win at the SCG, where the Swans have lost six of their 11 games this season.
Sydney inched ahead by nine points in the final quarter, but the Hawks kicked the last three goals of the game through Harry Morrison, Jordan Henderson and Luke Breust to secure the precious win.
Opportunistic Hawks small forward Paul Puopolo kicked three goals and Henderson and Jack Gunston two each.
The loss means fifth-placed Sydney are likely to drop one or two spots, depending on the result of Sunday’s Melbourne-GWS game at the MCG.
Hawthorn’s Brownlow Medal favourite Tom Mitchell was contained to nine first half possessions, but finished with 24, the same as his direct opponent George Hewett.
The Swans kicked the first two goals of the game, but Hawthorn bagged the next two to lead by a point at the end of a first-quarter arm wrestle.
Sydney’s trademark pressure was prominent as they dominated the second quarter.
The home team slammed on the first four goals and 27 points of the term and led by 19 at halftime.
— AFL (@AFL) August 25, 2018
But the tables turned in the third quarter as the Hawks ramped up their intensity.
They kicked four goals to two and got within one point before ending the term six behind.
Hawthorn then showed greater composure down the stretch, kicking five goals to two in the last quarter.
Jake Lloyd tallied 31 touches for Sydney with Isaac Heney and Tom Papley each kicking two goals, while Liam Shiels led the Hawks possession getters with 26.
Pies secure top-four spot
Meanwhile Collingwood overcame a major scare against Fremantle on Saturday afternoon to secure a top-four finals’ berth.
The Dockers led by eight points early in the final term when Hayden Ballantyne ran 60 metres to score his fourth goal in the match.
But Collingwood lifted when it mattered most, with Brody Mihocek booting two goals within the space of a minute to help power the Magpies to a 11.10 (76) to 9.13 (67) win at Optus Stadium.
The Magpies could have slid to as low as sixth if they had lost, but by winning they will finish at worst third, but can take second spot if West Coast loses to Brisbane on Sunday.