The ball was deep in North’s forward line when the siren sounded just in the nick of time for the Swans.
There was controversy in the dying seconds when Todd Goldstein appeared to have his jumper held by Callum Sinclair at a boundary throw-in but no free kick was paid.
North saved their best for last, storming home against the tiring Swans, who were down a man for the second half after losing Zak Jones to a hamstring injury just before the main break.
Trailing by 33 points early in the last quarter, the Kangaroos clawed within a kick with a minute and 23 seconds left after Jared Polec drained a long bomb but the Swans’ defence held firm under enormous pressure.
The Swans’ chances of making the finals remain slim but their youngsters are raising hope that any stay out of the finals may be brief.
George Hewett has played some key roles in his 80-game career but seldom has he been able to drive the side like he did here.
The tough on-baller relished the extra responsibility in Kennedy’s absence, bullocking his way to 29 touches, including a game-high 20 contested possessions. He got his fingertips on the ball to save what would have been a crucial goal in closing minutes.
Jordan Dawson continues to impress. Under wave after wave of attack, Dawson plonked himself in the right spot deep in defence to take some telling marks.
Tom Papley is in arguably his best season. A rookie pick, Papley has proven to be a tremendous find. His four goals were vital in a low-scoring game, particularly in Franklin’s absence.
The Swans won because they were prepared to be harder for longer than North. Will Hayward’s desperate smother in the last term will be replayed many times in the Swans’ review, but such acts were the norm rather than the exception.
The dewy conditions warranted such endeavour, and for much of the night it was the Swans who came to the fore.
North were poor in the first half, improved in the third term and finished with a wet sail in the last. Coach Brad Scott will be wondering why they needed to be so deep in the mire before finding their best.
Though the margin was narrow, this loss shows the different directions taken by both clubs. North’s side had an average of nearly 50 more games per player, the equivalent of more than two full seasons. They fielded only six players aged 23 or under compared to the Swans’ 13.
Jack Ziebell has been criticised at times this year but he was huge for North with 35 disposals. Jed Anderson and Jamie Macmillan were important in the fightback but they had few players who played a full four quarters.
The Swans have struggled to get bang for their buck inside their forward 50 the past 18 months, even with Franklin in the side, so few would have seen the second quarter coming.
From 13 entries, the Swans slammed on seven-goals-two, benefiting from a dominant midfield that was able to get the ball in there quickly and find forwards on the move.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald