After seven straight wins to open the 1995 season, Carlton was sitting pretty at the top of the AFL ladder and looking to redeem themselves in season ’95, after the Blues’ straight sets exit from the 1994 finals. In round eight, Carlton was faced with a trip to Sydney to face the struggling Swans.
Despite the recruit of high-profile full-forward Tony Lockett from St Kilda, the Swans had won only two of their opening seven matches, but had shown promising signs in the previous week’s defeat to Collingwood at Victoria Park, as Sydney had led for much of the match before falling by a creditable 21 points to the Magpies.
A Friday night attendance of 23,744 saw the Swans get off to a promising start, holding a 10-point lead over the Blues at quarter time. Both teams had five scoring shots in the first term, but Sydney’s superior accuracy gave them the early ascendancy. However, the match was turned completely on its head in the second term, with Sydney absolutely dominating the Blues. The Swans added nine goals straight to Carlton’s 1.1, taking a massive 57-point lead into the main break.
There was no relief for the Blues after half time, as Sydney continued the destruction adding a further five goals to one in the third term, extending the lead to 77 points. Sydney was outperforming Carlton in all areas of the game, but none was more evident that the Swans’ accuracy in front of goal, as a three-quarter time scoreline of 18.3 (111) to 4.10 (34) so proved.
The final term was one of consolation for Carlton, as Sydney were actually outscored by the Blues, 3.3 to 4.2. However, by then of course the damage was well done, with Sydney 21.6 (132) pulling off a remarkable 72-point win over the top of the ladder Blues 8.12 (60). For the winners, Tony Lockett reigned supreme over long-time rival Stephen Silvagni with a haul of 8.2 and earned the three Brownlow votes, stamping his authority on the massive win.
Paul Roos collected 34 disposals in his sweeping role off half-back, but he missed out on the votes, as Dean McRae with 24 touches earned two votes, and skipper Paul Kelly with just 15 disposals somehow managed to sway the men in white into awarding him a vote in what would turn out to be his Brownlow winning season.
The dominance of the Swans was typified with the fact that only one Carlton player managed to accumulate 20+ possessions, with Fraser Brown recording a team high of just 21. Sydney recorded 320 disposals for the match while keeping Carlton to a dismal tally of 241, by far the lowest count of the season for the Blues.
Of course, history would tell us that Carlton would lose heavily to the bottom placed St Kilda the very next week, before unleashing a 16-match winning streak that would culminate in the 1995 premiership with the Blues eventual 61-point defeat of Geelong.
Meanwhile, Sydney would finish season 1995 with eight wins, with Tony Lockett kicking 110 goals for the season and Paul Kelly winning the Brownlow Medal. The next year would see Sydney build on their improvement in 1995 and make a rapid rise up the ladder reaching their first Grand Final in 51 years before falling to North Melbourne.