Sydney are in the box seat to lock up a top-four finish after they made light work of St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
With Richmond and Western Bulldogs nipping at their heels, the Swans couldn’t afford a slip up but they were rarely troubled by the Saints on their way to a 20.15 (135) to 4.14 (38) win.
With one round to play, fourth spot is Sydney’s to lose with the 97-point drubbing putting them a game clear of the Tigers and the Dogs.
John Longmire’s side also has a percentage edge on those challengers after the big win but that won’t come into play if they defeat Gold Coast as expected next week.
“You want to get to this point of the year … every year you’d like to get into the same situation where you control your own destiny as far as finishing in the top four,” Longmire said.
“It’s a big challenge to get there, we’ve got one game to go next week and we don’t want to have to rely on percentage.
“We want to make sure we rely on a good strong brand of footy that gives us a win.”
It was exactly that brand of footy that was on display against the Saints.
The Swans had strong performances all over the ground with Josh Kennedy, Tom Mitchell and Dan Hannebery influential through the middle and Kurt Tippett dangerous in the ruck and up forward.
Isaac Heeney was one of 10 goal kickers and led the way in attack with four majors.
The Saints’ work rate was high early on but turnovers and inaccuracy in front of goal were costly, with retiring premiership player Adam Schneider kicking their only goal of the first quarter.
Sydney made more of their opportunities to lead by 16 points at the first break and they lifted further in the second, with their pressure forcing more errors from St Kilda.
In his first match back after three weeks out with a back injury, Lance Franklin looked rusty but booted his only goal of the day late in the half as the Swans scooted away to a 39-point break.
Franklin only lasted 10 minutes into the third term before Longmire put him in cotton wool, replacing him with substitute Gary Rohan in a move that the coach said was planned going into the match.
The Swans were soon down to two fit players on the bench, however, after Nick Smith was forced out of the game with hamstring tightness, with Longmire unsure of the severity of the issue.
While not ideal it made little difference on the field, with Sydney kicking the last five goals of the quarter to lead by 64 points.
The Saints have enjoyed an encouraging campaign for the most part but they didn’t give a yelp in the final term and went goalless as Sydney cruised to a comfortable win.
With skipper Nick Riewoldt unable to exert much influence off a wing, St Kilda had few four-quarter contributors.
“It was disappointing – we were just smashed in the contest,” coach Alan Richardson said.
“Their pressure was just outstanding and we couldn’t cope with it.
“It was a frustrating night.”