SYDNEY’S extraordinary start to the AFL season has continued as they stunned reigning premiers Richmond in a 45-point thrashing at the MCG.
The Swans went 3-0 for the first time since 2016 after storming out to a 40-point lead at the main break, before easing past the Tigers 17.15 (117) to 10.12 (72).
Making Saturday’s victory all the more impressive, Sydney did it at Richmond’s home fortress, with the lacklustre Tigers suffering just their fifth loss at the MCG since 2017.
Just like their victories over Brisbane and Adelaide, the Swans’ fire mostly came from their talented group of young guns.
Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell received Rising Star nominations for breakout performances in the opening two rounds and there is a queue of other Swans lining up to join them.
In just his fifth game, Chad Warner produced a stunning display with a three- goal, 20-possession game full of exciting bursts out of the middle.
Even with Lance Franklin resting after making his long-awaited comeback from injury last week, the Swans had no shortage of options up forward as they kicked more than 100 points for the third-straight week.
Ace small forward Tom Papley booted four goals, speedster Sam Wicks slotted three, while rejuvenated ruckman Tom Hickey, Isaac Heeney and young key forward Logan McDonald added two each.
After two rebuilding seasons, this result puts the Swans in genuine finals contention after being widely tipped to finish outside the top-eight.
Sydney coach John Longmire attempted to downplay the result but was thrilled to secure the Swans’ first win against the Tigers since 2017.
“We have enormous respect for what Richmond have been able to do, and continue to do,” he said.
“They’re an A-grade team, and we have the utmost respect for that, but that still means we can be hard and composed and how we want to play.”
Richmond’s much-vaunted midfield was smashed by the hungry Swans, with Tigers stars Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin well below their best.
“Credit where credit’s due, (Sydney) were simply outstanding,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.
“The score flattered us; I felt like it was a 10-goal loss and they thought they killed us in every facet of the game.”
Adding more pain to the shock upset for the Tigers was a hamstring injury to star midfielder Dion Prestia, who was subbed out in the opening term for Daniel Rioli.
Tigers utility Kamdyn McIntosh was assisted off the ground in the last quarter after being dazed in a collision with Swans defender Dane Rampe, while skipper Cotchin finished the game with ice to his hamstring and groin areas.
The Swans will be back in action on Thursday night for a clash with struggling Essendon at the SCG, while Richmond aim to rebound from their first defeat since last year’s qualifying final when they travel for a blockbuster meeting with Port Adelaide.