AFL grand final 2016: Western Bulldogs break premiership drought against Sydney Swans | photos

An amazing result. Amazing scenes which followed it. But, appropriate to a moment of such historical magnitude, an amazing grand final in its own right.

The Western Bulldogs breaking of a 62-year premiership drought is like some sort of fantasy. But how they won it should enter football folklore as well.

Because this really was one of the great grand finals, not only of the modern era, but any time in the 120 seasons of VFL and AFL football. It swayed this way and that, with five lead changes, it featured a rollocking 11-goal second quarter, and it was still in doubt until the last couple of minutes.

This was a story of romance which deserved a fitting final chapter. And boy, did it get one.

Both teams looked full of nerves at the start, the first 10 minutes marked by sloppy ball handling and some ill-directed passes.

Lance Franklin had the chance to post the game's first goal within a couple of minutes after marking on the 50-metre line, but his centring pass to Tom Papley sailed over the little man's head.

Both sides had team-lifting moments, Bulldog defender Matthew Boyd nailing Gary Rohan in a beautiful tackle, Sydney co-captain Kieren Jack taking the most courageous mark camped under a high ball and collected by Easton Wood, but missing the shot.

But it was Jack who also set up the opening goal with a lovely centring pass to Luke Parker, who had no problems converting.

The Bulldogs had enough scoring opportunities, but by almost the 20-minute mark had still to take a mark inside 50 while the Swans had taken seven intercept marks.

It was the perhaps unlikely form of Bulldog key forward Zaine Cordy who changed that, slotting a hard-won free kick from the boundary line. When Tory Dickson got on the end of a superb Lachie Hunter pass just a couple of minutes later, the Dogs were in front.

The tone was set. And if there can't have been too many more entertaining quarters of grand final football played in the modern era than the second term of this contest.

It was the Bulldogs, with three of the first four goals, who edged out to a lead at one stage 16 points. Tom Boyd threaded one from hard up against the point post, Dickson had his second, and then came the moment the Bulldog hordes threatened to send everyone deaf such was the guttural roar which burst forth after Liam Picken's goal.

Collecting a bouncing ball near goal, he dished off a handball to Hunter, who, one up against two Swans, engineered a lovely give back over his head, Picken snapping truly on his right.

The fairytale actually seemed to be coming true. But who for a moment thought the Swans would just meekly submit to their role in the storyline? Not them, certainly.

What ensued was a burst of seven minutes of Sydney's power-packed best, that near three-goal deficit almost as quickly turning into an eight-point lead with four unanswered goals.

The architects were whom you'd expect. Jack. Dan Hannebery. Isaac Heeney. Tom Mitchell, who had two goals and 16 touches by half-time.  And the brilliant, bullocking All-Australian Josh Kennedy, whose snap from 40 metres for a goal was his 17th disposal already.

Not 90 seconds later, it was two goals to Kennedy with a repeat effort. The Swans were putting some space on the scoreboard, even with goalkicking talisman Franklin well held by Joel Hamling, and just as ominously, winning some important statistical indicators.

The Bulldogs, No.1 for contested ball all season, had won just three of them to Sydney's 16 in that little burst, during which the Swans had seven inside 50s straight. Caleb Daniel, such a heartbeat for the Dogs, had had only one touch until the 25-minute mark.

But no one who has witnessed the Bulldogs' efforts over the past month thought for a moment that might be the start of the slide. And it wasn't.

Tom Boyd kicked his second, then Toby McLean snapped another with just over 10 seconds left on the clock. It had been an amazing half-an-hour of football. And at its conclusion we were still no closer to knowing a winner, the gap just two points Sydney's way.

Nor, for that matter, at the final change, when it was still a single-figure margin, but now the Bulldogs' way, after another frenetic 30 minutes produced only three goals.

Two of them, however, fell to the Dogs, Tory Dickson's sharp-shooting becoming increasingly important. His third goal of the game, after a smart handball from Jack Macrae came early, but was answered more than 10 minutes of ebb and flow later by Kennedy, this one from the goal line after Toby McLean had conceded a costly 50-metre penalty.

Clay Smith had been quiet, but now he bobbed up to boot another ripper from a tight angle 40 metres out. The Dogs looked a little fresher, a little more adventurous, and with Macrae firing with an 11-possession quarter, with a midfield starting to gain control.

The last quarter will be the stuff of football legend. Tough, tight, still with goals being kicked regularly. Incident, Jason Johannisen's apparent winner beingf overruled nearly a minute later, the Swans still alive.,

But these Bulldogs were indeed on a mission. They simply wouldn't be denied. And so, after George Hewett reduced the deficit to a point again with 10 minutes left to play, the Dogs barked one more, decisive time.

Liam Picken, as tenacious as ever, pounced on a loose ball  and slammed one home. Tom Boyd, his high price tag vindicated in stunning fashion with a huge performance in the ruck and up forward, went for broke from 60 metres out and made it 15 points the difference.

And Picken drove home the final, resounding blow, racing into an open goal to make it 21 points with only a couple of minutes left.

Yes, it happened. It really happened. And the hardest thing to digest in the euphoric moments which followed the final siren was not only that the Bulldogs are now a two-time premiership club, but that fairytales, even in a business as ruthless as AFL football, really can happen.

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