Josh Kelly has snatched a two-point win for the GIANTS over crosstown rival Sydney, kicking a remarkable match-winning goal to cap a thrilling SCG derby arm-wrestle.
Swans superstar Lance Franklin's five-goal haul and the GIANTS' inaccurate goal-kicking looked like proving the difference on Saturday.
GIANTS stand-in skipper Toby Greene was the worst offender, finishing with seven behinds and one goal to make it the most inaccurate game of his 163-game career.
But it was Greene's goal, coming with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the match - and after a flurry of wasted opportunities, near-misses and what-ifs from GIANTS, that put his side within striking distance.
Soon after, Kelly's optimistic attempted match-winner went out on the full.
But, with 66 seconds remaining, the midfielder pounced on opposing ruckman Sam Reid's hitout then snapped truly from a tight angle to put his side in front for the first time since the first quarter.
The GIANTS held on during a frantic final minute, triumphing 9.17 (71) to 10.9 (69).
Key defender Tom McCartin made decent connection with his attempt to kick an after-the-siren goal from beyond 60 metres, but it was always going to prove too much of an ask.
"Unreal. It was a bloody good game of footy," Kelly said after the match.
"I was having a shocking kicking night, so to hit that one was good."
GIANTS unsettled the Swans with praiseworthy pressure and dominated patches of the contest, making it four wins at the SCG from their past five visits.
Franklin, who slotted two second-quarter settlers in the space of 76 seconds, won the Brett Kirk medal while bringing his career tally to 955 goals and inching closer to becoming the first since Tony Lockett to reach the magical 1000-goal mark.
The four-time Coleman medallist was a steadying influence, booting third-quarter and fourth-quarter goals in response to GIANTS surges that trimmed Sydney's lead to seven then nine points.
But Franklin couldn't conjure anything special at the end of the epic as the Swans' undefeated start came to a halt in round five.
Sydney's young guns were largely quiet, but coach John Longmire's biggest concern may be ruckman Tom Hickey's knee injury.
Hickey, who had been a key part of the Swans' slick start to 2021, briefly returned to the field after a painful ruck contest with Shane Mumford then was substituted off in the fourth quarter.
Franklin and fellow Swan Jordan Dawson played on after painful third-quarter knocks, while Giants veteran Sam Reid was substituted off in the third term after tweaking his hamstring.
When red-time becomes Greene time
You never know what Toby Greene will bring, but you can be sure he'll deliver something. Through the first 90 minutes or so of football on Saturday the enigmatic forward had no trouble getting the ball, it was the getting rid of it where things fell down. Greene had 0.7 to his name as the clock went into red time in the fourth quarter and Sunday morning sports show panelists were already sharpening their pencils, but cometh the hour, cometh the man. A set shot from 25 metres straight in front looked the perfect recipe for behind number eight, but Toby played on, snagged it and brought his side back within a kick. More importantly, he delivered the belief that a win was there if his teammates wanted it enough.
Buddy at his best in red-time
Lance Franklin has had the familiar strut in his three games this season, but the magic hasn’t quite followed. The Swans superstar stole the show when he kicked the sealer against Essendon, but was arguably even more important for the Swans today as he stepped up whenever the GIANTS challenged early. This included handy red-time goals in the second and third quarters. The best of these was just before half-time, when Josh Kennedy kicked too short for a mark to be paid, so Franklin spun onto his left boot as he was being tackled 35m from goal near the boundary, and tumbled the ball through for a goal.
Making Hayward while the smoke flies
After bursting onto the scene in 2017 and kicking 50 goals from 40 games in his first two seasons, Will Hayward has struggled with form and injuries the past couple of years. It was still a surprise to see him named as the medical sub in round one, when he didn’t enter the game, and he hadn’t been named in the side again until coming in to replace the injured Isaac Heeney this week. Hayward certainly reminded us what he’s capable of, kicking 3.1, taking contested marks and competing hard. He also kicked the goal of the day, when there was a ball-up in the goalsquare, Sydney’s Sam Reid barely got a hand to the tap but Hayward was the first to respond and kicked the ball out of the air with the outside of his foot to send it through like a banana.
SYDNEY 3.3 6.4 8.8 10.9 (69)
GIANTS 1.4 3.7 5.11 9.17 (71)
Sydney: Franklin 5, Hayward 3, Papley 2,
GIANTS: Himmelberg 2, Finlayson 2, Daniels, Riccardi, O'Halloran, Greene, Kelly
Sydney: Franklin, Hayward, Lloyd, Dawson, Hickey
GIANTS: Kelly, Hopper, Taranto, Greene, Ward, Daniels
Sydney: Hickey (knee)
GIANTS: Reid (hamstring)
Sydney: Dylan Stephens (replaced Hickey)
GIANTS: Matt Buntine (replaced Reid)
Crowd: 33,541 at the SCG