With Sydney hosting Geelong this week, we look back to the 2005 semi-final, when Nick Davis single-handedly beat Geelong in one of the best finals performances in recent history.
“I see it, but I don’t believe it!”
Those famous words uttered by then Channel 10 commentator Anthony Hudson will forever be etched in the memory of everyone who witnessed the incredible goal that won Sydney the semi-final, and ultimately helped them win the 2005 Premiership.
Sydney had narrowly lost to West Coast in the qualifying final a week earlier and headed into the game against Geelong at the SCG as clear favourites.
However, the young Cats, featuring the likes of future premiership stars Gary Ablett Jnr, Jimmy Bartel, Paul Chapman, Steve Johnson, Matthew Scarlett and Tom Harley were brilliant for the first three quarters. But despite the dominant start, they only managed to hold a 17 point lead at the last change, 6.11 47 to 3.12 30.
Geelong’s David Johnson then kicked the opening goal of the final term, to extend the lead to 23 points with just 17 minutes remaining on the clock. In a low scoring affair, it looked highly improbable that Sydney would be able to score four goals to steal the game, having only scored three in the previous three quarters.
Enter Nick Davis.
The former Collingwood player stepped up to boot four last quarter goals to enter himself into football folk law for eternity.
His first was a brilliant snap from close to the boundary line after a superb piece of roving with just over 13 minutes remaining.
He then nailed a set shot after beating two defenders to hold a mark just over ten meters out directly in front, to cut the lead to just nine points.
After scoring two goals in quick succession and getting the Swans back into the game, it seemed something extraordinary could happen every time he was near the ball.
The Sydney crowd lifted, as did his teammates, and there was a sense that despite all their hard work, the Geelong players were hanging on for dear life.
His third goal was another perfect snap, this time from about 40 out, with several Geelong players hot on his heels. The goal cut the lead to three points with just over three minutes remaining.
Geelong’s youngsters toiled hard to keep possession and slow the game down in the final minutes against the Sydney onslaught.
But with little over 30 seconds left, Geelong found themselves defending a stoppage just in front of their own goal. Nick Davis once again popped up at just the right time, and produced an effort that had to be seen to be believed. Still to this day, I’m not sure how he did it. Never fully having control of the ball, he somehow roved the ball, and juggled it as it fell towards the turf, before flinging his right boot at the Sherrin in mid-air to send it goal ward.
The ball sailed through to the ecstatic cheers of the Sydney faithful, while Geelong players and fans alike were simply in shock.
The final siren sounded a mere ten seconds later, with Sydney winning by three points, 7.14 56 to Geelong 7.11 53. The scenes from the two sides could not have been more contrasting, as tears on one side were mixed with scenes of utter jubilation.
Davis’ fourth quarter is arguably the best finals performance in modern times; as he propelled the Swans to the Preliminary Final, where they would go on to beat St. Kilda by 31 points, before claiming an historic Premiership against West Coast in another modern day epic, to claim the club’s first flag in 72 years.
Davis collected 24 disposals on the night, kicked 4.2 and took three marks.
This Saturday’s match between Sydney and Geelong has all the makings of another thriller, with Geelong proving last week against the Pies that they may not be a spent force just yet.
Sydney defeated Geelong by 110 points in the same fixture last year, but Geelong are a proud club and will be keen to ensure that it is a much tighter contest this time around.
Watch full highlights of Sydney’s historic win over Geelong in the 2005 Semi-Final: