Sydney turns it on in front of the SCG crowd to take a big win in their top two race against Collingwood.
Earlier, Richmond made light work of Hawthorn to seal their place in the final and Port Adelaide delivered a dominant beating to Essendon.
It was the Swans who stole the show on Sunday, moving into the top two with an impressive 27-point win over the Magpies.
The Swans made a profound statement in the high-stakes game between two top-four contenders with an ominous four-quarter performance in Sunday’s 11.11 (77)-7.8 (50) triumph.
With a top-two finish on the line, it’s arguably the most impressive of the Swans’ six-game winning streak, averaging 40 points.
The Magpies’ fairy tale run in close competition rarely felt like adding another chapter with a 12th straight win as the Swans controlled the ball and territory early, then held the visitors at arm’s length in second period.
The Swans (15-6) could have settled the game much sooner, but for missing several single shots that had the Magpies dreaming of another unlikely comeback in front of 44,659 fans – the second most ever at the SCG for a first leg -return.
Isaac Heeney shone early in his 150th game, scoring 1.2 from eight eliminations in the first term, but it was the Swans onballers who gradually dominated the Magpies while the McCartin brothers – Paddy and Tom – dominated the airways in defence.
Co-captains Callum Mills (29 touches, five clearances) and Luke Parker (25, eight) led the way in midfield, with Chad Warner (25, five) and James Rowbottom (24, seven) also continuing their solid form.
The Swans had a range of forward targets as Lance Franklin scored three goals, while Tom Papley and Heeney finished with two apiece.
The Magpies lacked a similar goal threat, especially with Jordan De Goey coming off late with a hip flexor problem and Jack Ginnivan subbed off at half-time after tweaking a hamstring.
Ginnivan had helped stop the Swans’ momentum when they trailed by 21 points in the second term, with the small forward going from a controversial free kick to a high tackle, and his absence was noticeable after the main break.
Captain Scott Pendlebury (26 eliminations) and Josh Daicos (25) fought hard but freshman Nick Daicos saw his influence limited by the tight check of Swans stopper Ryan Clarke as the Magpies failed to match the measured ball movement of their opponents. .
The loss leaves the Magpies (15-6) in fifth place – outside the top four in percentage – and need a win and other results to work their way into the final round to start the final with a double chance.
Sydney will look to book a qualifying final at home with a win over St Kilda on Sunday, while Collingwood must bounce back against Carlton on the same day to secure a top-four place.
Power humiliates bombers in Docklands
Zak Butters and Jeremy Finlayson played leading roles in helping Port Adelaide hand Essendon their heaviest loss of the AFL season in an 84-point thrashing.
A run of nine straight goals from Power from the end of the first quarter to the start of the third ended the competition before the visitors ran away with a dominant 23.8 (146) to 9.8 (62) victory at the Docklands Stadium on Sunday.
It was the Bombers’ biggest loss under Ben Rutten and the most points they allowed in a game during his two years as coach.
Butters was all over the place as he scored a career-best three goals on 25 takedowns to go with six clearances and 10 scoring appearances.
Finlayson had a huge influence in a forward role despite losing hits to Sam Draper, finishing with two goals, 25 eliminations, four punts and 10 scoring appearances.
Mitch Georgiades responded to his week on reserve with three goals alongside fellow great Todd Marshall, who kicked two after a week out under health and safety protocols.
Sam Powell-Pepper scored a record four goals.
Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel (27 eliminations, 12 clearances) won plenty of the ball but the home side lacked players who could take control.
Mid-season rookie Massimo D’Ambrosio scored the first two goals of his AFL career to keep the Bombers within eight points at the quarter.
But seven unanswered goals at Port Adelaide in the second term blew the margin to 51 points at the main break as Butters, Powell-Pepper and Connor Rozee went wild.
The Power’s 12.2 (74) was their highest first-half tally of the season.
The Bombers went 45 minutes scoreless until Archie Perkins ended the drought with a long-range saved shot midway through the third term.
Other goals for Peter Wright and Nick Hind squeezed the margin before three quarters of time, but the Power finished plenty of runs and scored nine goals in the final quarter in the comprehensive victory.
Port Adelaide will close their season with a Showdown against intercity rivals Adelaide in round 23, while Essendon will host the Richmond final at the MCG.
Lynch kicks a sack as Tigers book finals spot
Richmond is tied for the final after Tom Lynch’s mighty eight-goal run helped the Tigers beat Hawthorn to 61 points at the MCG.
The Tigers locked in their top-eight position with an ominous display on Sunday, earning their third straight win as the rebuilding Hawks withered.
Richmond ended the game in the quarter after scoring six goals to one before storming to a 20.8 (128) 9.13 (67) win in front of 59,338 fans.
Hawthorn trailed by 73 points at the final changeover, but they managed to keep the scoreline respectable by winning the final quarter.
After missing the final last year for the first time since 2016, Richmond will be back in September as he seeks to resume his premiership triumphs of 2017, 2019 and 2020.
They won’t be in the top four like they were during those landmark years, but with Norm Smith’s three-time medalist Dustin Martin likely to return for the final, rival teams will worry about what the Tigers might do.
Lynch monstroused the inexperienced and undersized Hawthorn defense, driving through three opponents before Hawks star James Sicily got to him in the third quarter.
The 29-year-old started off with a bang, scoring three goals in the first quarter as everything he did turned to gold in an even career effort.
Lynch looked set to be the first player this season to score 10 after starting three quarters of the time with eight, but Sicily kept him scoreless last term.
Dion Prestia, Lynch’s former Gold Coast teammate, was clearly the second best player on the ground as a Tigers midfielder with 29 touches and two goals.
The only sour note for Richmond was a foot injury to Jack Graham, with the premiership midfielder replacing Jason Castagna last term.
Richmond will wrap up its regular season campaign with a Saturday night clash with Essendon, while the Hawks (8-13) will have a chance to dash the Western Bulldogs’ desperate slim hopes of the final in Launceston.