CELEBRATIONS for Lance Franklin’s 300th AFL game are set to be put on ice because of an untimely hamstring injury the superstar has suffered while helping Sydney to defeat his former side Hawthorn by 19 points.
Franklin, taking part in his 299th match, booted four goals at the SCG to help the Swans prevail 12.10 (82) to 9.9 (63).
The four-time Coleman medallist had been set to celebrate the most-significant milestone of his decorated career next Saturday at the same venue, where the Swans will host Gold Coast.
But a furious Franklin limped off late in Friday night’s third term, iced up his troublesome left hamstring and played no part in the fourth quarter, suggesting the 32-year-old would almost certainly be sidelined for several weeks.
The Swans kicked 6.1 (37) in the first quarter, with Franklin dobbing two goals in his club’s most-prolific start to a game at home in almost a year, but the Hawks fought hard to reduce the 30-point lead to a seven-point buffer at halftime.
Sydney held on despite Franklin’s absence and a possible concussion to ruckman Callum Sinclair, who might not remember his 100th game.
Sinclair’s head slapped the ground at a nasty angle when he attempted to take a low mark soon after kicking the opening goal of the final quarter.
The 19-year-old Nick Blakey stood up for the Swans with two goals and a spectacular pack mark in the final term, while Luke Parker spearheaded an inspired Sydney midfield who hardly resembled that which struggled so much during their 1-6 start to the season.
Franklin struggled earlier this year, having underdone groin surgery that ruined his pre-season, then missed rounds 6-9 because of a hamstring injury.
The veteran had seemingly returned to his best, backing up a match-winning haul of five goals against West Coast by creating all manner of headaches for opponent James Frawley, prior to tweaking his hamstring while taking off for a lead.
A couple of halftime spotfires suggested it was going to be yet another close and cantankerous contest between the rivals, whose past six meetings had been decided by an average margin of eight points.
But the Hawks were wasteful in the third term and couldn’t halt the hosts’ momentum after three-quarter time.
Four-time premiership forward Jarryd Roughead, recalled after an extended stint in the VFL, snapped a second-quarter goal but couldn’t stamp his influence on the game as much as good mate Franklin.
SYDNEY 6.1 7.4 8.9 12.10 (82)
HAWTHORN 3.1 6.3 7.7 9.9 (63)
Goals: Sydney: L Franklin 4 N Blakey 2 T Papley 2 W Hayward 2 C Sinclair D Menzel. Hawthorn: J Ceglar J Gunston J Impey J O’Meara J Roughead J Sicily L Breust L Shiels R Henderson.
Umpires: Shaun Ryan, David Harris, Robert O’Gorman, Justin Power.
Official Crowd: 29,553 at SCG.