Buddy helps boot Hawks to top of AFL table
Buddy Franklin led Hawthorn to a sensational win over Sydney (AFL media/Slattery Images).
Lance Franklin made an instant impact in his return and Hawthorn proved they could overcome a tardy start as they beat Sydney to jump over the Swans into top spot on the AFL ladder on Saturday.
The Hawks trailed at the SCG by five points with just over a minute to go but the hugely-influential Shaun Burgoyne and Brad Sewell kicked goals to carry the Hawks to a 15.12 (102) to 14.11 (95) win.
Hawthorn lead the ladder on percentage and can clinch the minor premiership with a home win over West Coast next Friday.
“If we win next week, it gives us a great chance of obviously finishing in the top two and give ourselves a double chance,” Hawks’ coach Alastair Clarkson said.
The Swans finish off at Geelong the following day, but might struggle to stay in the top two.
Key forward Franklin, playing his first game after six weeks out, kicked 4.3 and played a pivotal part in Hawthorn’s second-quarter revival.
The Swans outscored Hawthorn 27-1 in the first quarter and increased their lead to 38 points early in the second.
Sparked by three second-quarter goals to Franklin and two to Burgoyne, the Hawks piled on 38 unanswered points.
“He (Franklin) played an important role for the side, he kicked four goals and looked dangerous at different stages,” Clarkson said.
“It was a good return for him and we’re just pleased that he comes back into our side, plays his role, gets a game under his belt.
“He gets another one against West Coast next Friday night and hopefully prepares well for a big finals series for us.”
The Hawks trailed by five points at halftime and led by four at the final change.
Former Hawk Josh Kennedy and veteran Ryan O’Keefe each goaled late in the last term to twice give Sydney a five-point lead.
However, Franklin kicked his fourth and then Burgoyne his third as the Hawks hit the front with 70 seconds left.
It was Hawthorn’s 11th win in their past 12 games, the only loss being a two-point defeat to Geelong when they again started badly.
“We were really pleased we were able to do it this time because we couldn’t do it against Geelong a month ago,” Clarkson said.
“It’s really good for the confidence of the group.”
Sydney coach John Longmire said his players were still improving, but didn’t control the tempo when Hawthorn made their surge and conceded some easy centre bounces in the final term.
“To be able to play like we played tonight, I think will give our players a lot of confidence,” Longmire said.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win and we can do some things better but we played against an extremely-talented team tonight and we had a real crack.”
Kennedy tallied 35 touches and O’Keefe 30 for Sydney, with O’Keefe, Adam Goodes, Shane Mumford and Sam Reid all goaling twice for the Swans.
Jordan Lewis accumulated 28 possessions for Hawthorn and Burgoyne 26.© AAP 2013