SYDNEY will have to become the first team in the history of the top-eight to recover from a 0-4 start and play finals if it is to feature in September this season.
West Coast inflicted the Swans' fourth straight loss at Domain Stadium, with the Eagles surviving a last-quarter scare to prevail in an arm wrestle by 26 points.
The undermanned Swans are poised to unleash a string of key players from injury over the next few weeks, however time is running out ahead of next Saturday night's crunch derby with Greater Western Sydney at the SCG.
Former Hawthorn champion Sam Mitchell will be assessed ahead of next Sunday's showdown with his former club after suffering an ankle injury in the second term.
Mitchell copped the full force of an accidental swinging leg from teammate Jack Redden. The four-time Hawks premiership star winced in pain and remained on all fours as he was surrounded by worried trainers.
Former Western Bulldogs champion Brad Johnson said Mitchell was fortunate.
"It's lucky it didn't break his leg. Very lucky," Johnson said.
In a positive sign, Mitchell returned in the second half but spent time forward. The 34-year-old has a 10-day break to assist his bid to face the Hawks at the MCG.
Sydney star Lance Franklin also looked restricted throughout the match and finished the game on the bench with ice on his right quad. Franklin was shaken up by a strong hip and shoulder from Eagles skipper Shannon Hurn in the opening five minutes.
The contested possession and clearance battles were even throughout the night, but the home side was more efficient in attack.
Luke Shuey, Matt Priddis and Jack Redden were all influential at the coalface against a Sydney midfield unit well lead by Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker.
Shuey and reborn defender Elliot Yeo shared the HMAS Sydney II medal after tying for best on ground.
With Jack Darling a late out with an ankle injury, All-Australian defender Jeremy McGovern kicked two goals, including a big one in the final stanza, after playing mainly forward for the Eagles in a significant tactical change.
The Swans failed to capitalise on a 13-5 edge in inside 50 entries in the opening term, before the Eagles gradually worked their way on top.
West Coast led by four goals after Andrew Gaff kicked his second early in the third quarter, before the visitors steadied to remain in the contest.
Impressive Sydney youngster Will Hayward kicked his second goal early in the final term and when that was followed up with a set shot from Jake Lloyd, the Swans had reduced a three-goal deficit at the final change to six points 10 minutes into the quarter.
The door was open for the Swans but it was quickly slammed shut, with Shuey nailing a brilliant set shot from the boundary line before McGovern goaled to ensure the Eagles took back the momentum.
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