STRATFORD matched it with East Gippsland ladder leader Wy Yung at Bairnsdale City Oval on Saturday, going down by just 10 points.
The Swans remained in touch at every change in a contest that was at times very physical, going down 11.6 (72) to 9.8 (62).
Wy Yung went into quarter-time with a two-point lead, but could have been further ahead had it been able to convert more efficiently, booting four behinds for the term.
A four-goal to three second quarter gave the Tigers a one goal lead at the main change in a low-scoring contest, with both sides scoring two goals in the third term to set up an exciting finish.
Wy Yung booted four goals to three in the final term to take a 10-point victory. The Swans will be able to take plenty of positives from the contest, remaining competitive across the four quarters with both sides recording 17 scoring shots.
Scott Scicluna booted three goals for Stratford to feature in his side’s best players, while Matt Counahan and Mark Latham scored seven goals between them for Wy Yung.
Gavin Bickery and Lewis Bolton continued their fine form for the Swans, while Thomas Nash and Josh Kiss were also prominent.
PAYNESVILLE also scored a 10-point victory over reigning premier Lindenow in another low-scoring contest.
Both sides went into half-time with three goals on the board but Paynesville could have been further in front, scoring six behinds as it took a two point lead into the main change.
The match opened up slightly in the second half, with the Seagulls booting six goals to the Cats’ five to run out 10-point winners, 9.11.65 to 8.7.55.
LAKES Entrance scored a big win over cellar dweller Orbost-Snowy Rovers, 23.14.152 to 11.7.73.
The Blues out-scored Lakes Entrance in the final quarter, booting five goals to three, but the contest was already over after the Seagulls dominated from the opening bounce to take a 94-point lead at the final change of ends.