Buddy brilliance has Hawks soaring towards finals
A Buddy Franklin inspired Hawthorn has become the mid-season bolter and with six straight wins and an almost completely healthy list, the Hawks are well and truly the sleeping giant of the competition. Buddy’s brilliance was something to savour on Friday night in the Hawks’ win against Essendon. His five goals and two extraordinary last term heroics have had the football world talking all weekend.
Saving his best until last, his incredible run down the wing and solo effort was remarkable to watch. Powering away from Cale Hooker with skill and athleticism he took three bounces and then with his famous left to right swing somehow slotted through the goal from the boundary.
Some already believe it will be hard to beat for this season’s goal of the year, while others have suggested it was one of the best of all time. I’m not sure I would quite go that far, but one thing I do know from sitting in the stands watching his performance live is that the TV coverage didn’t give it justice!
This was a memorable moment in modern football.
Even his teammates were in awe. Jordan Lewis said “sometimes you just sit back and marvel at what he can do on the field.”
And maybe his party days are behind him too, Lewis went on to say “he’s pretty modest these days Bud… and I think probably early on in his career he liked to celebrate a little bit but not any more.”
Injuries, suspension and match fitness have obviously contributed to his slow start to the season, and in many respects Buddy’s inconsistent year early is a reflection of the Hawks’ season.
But Buddy’s back and so is Hawthorn.
For the first time in a long time the Hawks are extremely close to having a fit and healthy list to choose from too, experienced trio Campbell Brown, Josh Gibson, and ruckman Simon Taylor are all closing in on a return. This is a headache coach Alastair Clarkson hasn’t experienced since the 2008 premiership year and will be a major boost for the Hawks.
With the personnel on the park, Hawthorn is an ominous opponent for any side and I’m sure even Geelong would be slightly nervous about a Hawthorn revival.
The signs are good right across the ground.
The midfield is elite with any number of Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell, Shaun Burgoyne, Jordan Lewis, Cyril Rioli, Luke Hodge, and Clinton Young rotating through.
The move of Chance Bateman from wingman to tagging midfielder is a good one, Bateman has had trouble controlling his aggression this year and it seemed to give him a bit more of a purpose.
Rick Ladson and Michael Osborne are contributing well, the toughness of youngster Ben Stratton is impressive and Beau Muston is playing his role to perfection as the defensive forward, first on Graham Johncock and then Dustin Fletcher.
Even Hawthorn’s little known ruckman are doing the job. In the absence of Taylor and the retirement of Campbell I always thought it was going to be a tall order for the Hawks against the best big men in the game.
But Renouf and Skipper have teamed up to be a more than reliable duo and now with the imminent return of Taylor the pressure for spots can only be a good thing.
It’s amazing how quickly fortunes can change, the Hawks’ season appeared a write-off six weeks ago, sitting 14th on the AFL ladder with a 1-6 record, and now all of a sudden a spot in the top four isn’t out of the question.
The next month will be crucial.
The Hawks to be tested against a couple of the genuine premiership contenders with games against the Western Bulldogs, Geelong, Brisbane and St Kilda.
How many they can win only time will tell, but one thing that is for sure, if Buddy continues to fire, the Hawks will continue to soar.
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