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The Davis-Franklin Battle

A Season Defined - Phil Davis It has quickly become one of the match-ups of the modern game but when Phil Davis lined up on Lance Franklin the 2018 Elimination final, there was much more on the line.

It was one of the big questions leading into the 2018 Elimination Final between the Swans and the GIANTS: who would win the Lance Franklin-Phil Davis match-up? 

Davis, widely regarded as one of the few defenders who could really stand up to the Swans’ power forward, had had a mixed bag in their earlier two encounters during the home and away season.

The GIANTS co-captain had clamped down on Franklin’s scoring ability for most of the round six derby, but Franklin broke the shackles for a couple of red-time goals to prove the difference as the Swans won by 16 points.

Davis had likewise kept Franklin quiet in the Round 22 derby, but a heavy collision saw Davis first sidelined, then forced to play in an unfamiliar position up forward in the second half as he nursed a hip injury.

Franklin made the most of his absence, booting five goals for the night – four of them after Davis’ injury – to again star as the Swans came from behind to win by 20 points.

But Davis was determined to turn things around in the Elimination Final, and it was clear who won the pivotal match-up at the SCG.

Franklin was kept goalless and had just eight touches, while Davis racked up 18 disposals, had 10 marks, six one-percenters and two tackles in a great finals performance as the GIANTS ended the Swans’ season and advanced to the semi-finals.

“With the pre-finals bye, we knew we were playing Sydney from two weeks out, which meant I was playing on Franklin,” Davis told GIANTS TV.

“Obviously he was significant in the game in round 22 at Spotless Stadium. It was a big role for everyone – also we had (Swans Luke) Parker and (Josh) Kennedy were outstanding against us in Round 22. It was going to be a really big challenge, and they were coming off some really good form as well.

“Individually and collectively, it was going to be a very big challenge and one that we prepared very methodically for.”

Although it was an outstanding effort from the fearless leader, Davis credited his teammates for making his job easier and helping shut down Franklin.

“For me personally, I was able to play in behind a midfield that was extremely diligent and hard-working in their approach to the game all day, which meant the pressure on the ball when it came in was outstanding,” he said.

“And then on top of that, my fellow backs were just outstanding. Whether it be (Adam) Kennedy, (Lachie) Whitfield, (Matt) Buntine, (Zac) Williams, (Harry) Perryman – we just had such a great group.

“(Nick) Haynes did such a great job in helping me out.”

The GIANTS’ defensive efforts all over the field were rewarded as they held their rivals to just 30 points – with 12 of those coming from goals in time-on the final term – in the Sydney Swans’ lowest-ever finals score.

Davis labelled the 49-point win over the Swans as “extremely satisfying”.

“To win a final is very hard to do, but then on top of that you add in context that it’s our rival and on top of that even more, they beat us (three) weeks earlier,” he said.

“In the whole scheme of it, it was an outstanding win and really set us up for a finals campaign, which unfortunately fell a bit short.”

A Season Defined is a nine-part series that will be released over the coming weeks, taking a look back at some of the key moments from the GIANTS’ rollercoaster 2018 season.