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Papley boots late Swans winner in thriller against Dogs

Tom Papley celebrates his match-winning goal against the Western Bulldogs. Picture: Mark Evans.

Sydney firebrand Tom Papley has booted the match-winner to secure a two-point triumph in a thriller against the Western Bulldogs at the SCG.

Both teams had multiple chances to snatch victory in the dying stages but it was the Swans that hung on for an 11.12 (78) to 11.10 (76) win on Thursday night to keep their finals hopes alive.

Papley finished with four majors, making him the most prolific forward on the night, but it was his goal on the run at the 22-minute mark of the final quarter that secured the stirring win in John Longmire's 300th game as coach.  

The slim victory keeps the Swans (7-1-9) within reach of eighth place as they put a severe dent in the Bulldogs' top-four hopes.

Errol Gulden (30 disposals) was outstanding for the Swans to continue his breakout season, while Ollie Florent (23 disposals, two goals) and co-captain Luke Parker (23 disposals) were also important.

The final siren set off wild scenes as the Swans players raced straight to their coach in his milestone match.

"It's a bit of carry on, isn't it? I had a cake yesterday, that was a bit of carry on, and then I saw my big boofhead on the big screen," Longmire said.

"But I don't want to be flippant about it, I'm very lucky to work for a fantastic footy club... I've been very fortunate that I've been part of a lot of their journeys. I feel very privileged and honoured that I was a part of it for so long, for so many of them. To see them tonight was a real thrill."

The Swans entered the clash with emerging talls Hayden McLean and Joel Amartey as their ruck duo to take on the Dogs' leading big man Tim English.

It was a move that backfired early as English made an impact at the stoppages and around the ground, and went on to finish with 22 disposals, 10 clearances and 60 hitouts.

The Dogs threatened to break the game open in the first term as they dominated the possessions 122-67 along with a 17-8 advantage in clearances to build a 19-point lead at quarter-time.

Captain Marcus Bontempelli (31 disposals, two goals) led the way for the Bulldogs but back-to-back losses has them at risk of tumbling out of the top eight with the rest of round 18 still to play.

Tom Liberatore was immense for the Bulldogs, gathering 30 disposals with game-highs for 19 contested ball and 11 clearances, as well as booting the opening goal of the game within 45 seconds.

Adam Treloar (33 disposals), Ed Richards (28) and Jack Macrae (24) found plenty of the ball for the Bulldogs, while Aaron Naughton booted three goals.

But the Dogs were hit hard by injuries with young talls Sam Darcy (corked thigh) and James O'Donnell (concussion) both ruled out in the middle stages of the contest.

"Losing the two keys in James and Sam was going to be difficult to cover and I think that told in the end with their bigger forwards, they started to mark it," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"We only had the two talls and we couldn't quite defend some of those balls and it was costly.

"If we had have won, they'd say it's one that got away, and we probably feel like that because at the end I still thought we were going to win it."

Western Bulldogs have another crunch clash to come against Essendon next Friday night, while Sydney will travel to face Fremantle the following night.


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