It was with a noted limp, but Sydney marched into an AFL preliminary final showdown with Fremantle in stoic style when they downed Carlton by 24 points on Saturday night.
Injuries have been a prevalent feature of the Swans’ premiership defence, and so it was at ANZ Stadium where the Swans lost star recruit Kurt Tippett (knee) and young midfielder Tom Mitchell (ankle) in the first quarter.
Tippett lasted seven minutes and was substituted off for Lewis Jetta, himself underdone due to a shin injury, while Mitchell sat on the bench and gave the Blues - a team well capable of stirring comebacks - the perfect platform to run down the hosts.
But the Blues were behind by 22 points at halftime and 54 by the third break, having turned the ball over too often and too easily while failing to match the pressure and run of the underdone reigning premiers.
Sydney failed to score in the final term, but the mountain was simply too high for the visitors.
Carlton booted three quick goals early in the fourth quarter to give fans a skerrick of hope that another come-from-behind victory would follow after recent efforts against Port Adelaide and Richmond, but the Swans iced the game and won 13.8 (86) to 8.14 (62).
Sydney will face Fremantle in Perth next Saturday for a place in the grand final.
Swans co-captain Jarrad McVeigh was inspirational, while young gun Luke Parker played the most important game of his life.
McVeigh, one of many Swans to carry injuries into the game after he hurt his knee in the side’s terrible loss to Hawthorn in week one of the finals, gathered 20 possessions in the second quarter and spearheaded many of the hosts’ meaningful forward surges.
The 28-year-old finished with a game-high 42 disposals, while fellow on-ballers Dan Hannebery (33), Kieren Jack (30) and Ryan O’Keefe (30) and key defender Heath Grundy (32) also had leather poisoning.
Parker kicked three goals, two of the them coming in the space of three minutes and ranking among the match’s most decisive.
Neither side could kick a goal in the first 10 minutes of the third term, with 20-year-old Parker finally stepping up to silence Carlton’s attempted challenge.
Andrew Walker had 30 touches for the visitors, who had their own injury concerns.
Ed Curnow (knee) went off in the second term and Michael Jamison was taken off on a stretcher in the dying stages of the game after a head knock.
On top of a lengthy injury list, the Swans could have some concerns at the match review panel this week with Ted Richards’ bump on Levi Casboult likely to be examined. - AAP