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Hawks' forward 'trinity' must fire

Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli and Lance Franklin.

Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli and Lance Franklin. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

In the preliminary final, the Hawks prevailed narrowly over the cursing Cats, despite the failure of their forward ''trinity'' of Lance Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and Cyril Rioli, to produce goals.

The trinity managed just one goal - a Buddy gimme from the goal line, created by Luke Breust's tap, in the last quarter. Franklin and Rioli were returning from suspension and injury; Roughead, the Coleman medallist, was subdued with just 0.1. The Hawks thus relied on dead-eye Jack Gunston, David Hale and the high footy IQ of Shaun Burgoyne - cast as a makeshift forward in the final quarter - to extricate themselves from infamy.

Peter Schwab, Alastair Clarkson's predecessor as Hawks coach, is among the many Hawthorn folk who reckon Franklin, Roughead and Rioli collectively will need to produce a sizeable bundle of goals if the Hawks are to win the premiership that was lost on the back of failure to convert last year.

''They wouldn't want another [final] where they don't get a significant goal-score contribution from those three - Rioli, Roughead and Franklin,'' said Schwab. ''If they could kick six between them, average two … in a final, that'd be significant.

''Hawthorn's got more firepower in their front half - there's no doubt about that. You know, you've got Rioli, Gunston, Roughead, Franklin, Breust. Compared to Fremantle who have [Chris] Mayne, [Matthew] Pavlich, [Hayden] Ballantyne, [Michael] Walters who are probably keys and it depends on what your midfield can do … I think potentially Fremantle can get more goals from their midfield.''

In finals, goals become more precious than in home-and-away football. When playing ''Rossball'' - against the maniacal defensive pressure of a Ross Lyon-coached team - the degree of difficulty for each goal is far greater; the Dockers concede only 69 points per game, easily the best record in the AFL, and restricted Geelong to nine goals at Simonds Stadium in their finals eclipse. Many clubs give up almost nine goals in a quarter at the Cattery.

Hence the need for Franklin, Roughead and Rioli to find the goals that went missing last Friday. If, as Schwab suggests, the talented trio don't produce a respectable goal tally, Hawthorn's chances of premiership redemption will be greatly compromised.

Schwab reckoned the other part of the Hawthorn wish-list would be to score freely early, forcing the disciplined Dockers to ease the throttle and open up the game. ''The key for them will be how quickly they can score early. If they can put Fremantle under pressure early … if you can score on the board it sort of unsettles their defensive structure, maybe then they have to become more offensive to catch up,'' he said. ''I think Hawthorn will win but I think it will be a really tough game.''

Franklin, who could well be playing in brown and gold for the final time, has been a consistent finals performer over the course of his career. Last week's modest output was atypical. He averages 3.5 goals per game in finals (45.28 in 13 finals), which exceeds his home-and-away average of 3.2 goals per game. His conversion rate of 61.6 per cent means he's also better at nailing his shots in September than from April to August (home-and-away conversion is 57.6 per cent).

He was criticised for his profligacy on grand final day last year, when his inaccuracy (3.4) reflected his team's yips - a pattern that was repeated against the Cats last weekend. But the inaccuracy bug isn't just his - Roughead scored only 1.5 from three finals last year and didn't kick one last Friday, while Rioli had an excellent qualifying and preliminary final in 2012 before he was smothered in the grand final by his ex-Scotch College teammate Nick Smith. He was likewise quelled by the Cats last weekend, albeit he was fleeced of a likely goal by a mystifying advantage call by the umpire.

In a contest pitting the game's greatest restrictor and its best offensive unit, the Hawks will struggle to avoid suffocation if their trinity remains invisible.

43 comments

  • If the Hawks can win the clearances and kick straight, they will win the game. Sydney were insipid at the centre bounce, immediately putting themselves on the back foot. If Ross Lyon loses his fourth grand final this week, we may all be talking about a flawed game plan. The key is the contested ball; when players know that their team mates 30 meters away are likely to win the contest, they can start to run forward of the play that split second earlier, creating what appears to be 'the spread' which in actual fact is just confidence in your team mates ability to win the footy. The question is whether Hawthorn is tough enough and quick enough in the clinches.

    Commenter
    Radaro
    Date and time
    September 26, 2013, 8:15AM
    • Two scenarios may play out on the weekend: Freo play like they did last weekend and win (they would have beaten any side ever with that pressure and intensity) or hawks crack them open and run away with the game (Ross the Boss doesn't adapt when things don't go to plan). Freo win thoug in my opinion.

      Commenter
      Sticks
      Date and time
      September 26, 2013, 9:25AM
    • Sticks, they wouldn't have beaten "any side, ever" on last week's game. Freo missed plenty of sitters. Their tackling pressure was amazing, but a prime Geelong of '07-'11 would have held up to that pressure, cut through it and their defense would have withstood Freo. Collingwood of '10 would have also been able to beat Freo of last week. Brisbane at their peak I think would also held their own in the clinches. It remains to be seen but I think the Hawks of '13 will also be able to withstand the heat.

      It was a good performance by freo last weekend, definitely, but hardly the best football ever played by any side, ever.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Location
      Hawthorn
      Date and time
      September 26, 2013, 9:57AM
    • Hey hey STICKS!

      Commenter
      Ezzaa
      Location
      Hawthorn
      Date and time
      September 26, 2013, 11:02AM
  • Suggestion to Hawks ruckmen - don't bother jumping at the centre bounce.
    Why take yourself out of the real contest at ground level, particularly when Sandilands' hand is going to touch the footy first regardless? Stay on the ground at it's 4 against 3 every time.

    Commenter
    RadaroIf
    Date and time
    September 26, 2013, 8:19AM
    • Interesting... I like it.

      Commenter
      Andrew
      Date and time
      September 26, 2013, 10:03AM
  • Was Roughie concussed last weekend? He was flying way too early for some marks and had that collision early in the game. I have read nothing in the press about him being concussed tho.

    Commenter
    Rossco
    Location
    Nunawading
    Date and time
    September 26, 2013, 8:28AM
    • Just couldn't get his giant jaw off the ground

      Commenter
      Sara
      Location
      Mordy
      Date and time
      September 26, 2013, 9:48AM
    • I think he just got Harry Taylor'd up. He also just looks that way most of the time.

      Commenter
      Murray
      Location
      Rivers
      Date and time
      September 26, 2013, 10:09AM
    • He took a big hit in the first quarter, was quite after that.

      Commenter
      Daz
      Date and time
      September 26, 2013, 12:10PM

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