Hawks find inner resolve

Sportal August 25, 2012, 10:13 pm
Grant Birchall

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Delighted Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said his side's courageous fightback in Saturday night's epic seven-point win over Sydney gives everyone involved with the club great confidence heading into the finals.

In a memorable top-of-the-table clash at the SCG, the Hawks were blown away early by the Swans who established a 38-point lead midway through the second term.

But with returning superstar Lance Franklin leading the way, the Hawks showed why they are favourites for the flag, coming back to snatch a 15.12 (102) to 14.11 (95) win late in the final term.

Asked what the spirited comeback says about his team just a week out from September action, Clarkson said: "You love to know that when you're down and out like we were, and it happened a few weeks ago against Geelong as well where we started poorly, but we worked our way back into the contest.

"We just couldn't finish that game as well as we'd have liked that night but we were really pleased to be able to do it this time.

"It's good for the confidence of the group, of the coaching staff and the club that even though we were down and out we could come back and get ourselves back in the contest.

"We were down and out midway through the second quarter but somehow these guys dug deep and got themselves back in the contest by half-time.

"It's really pleasing we were able to come back.

"(Ryan) O'Keefe kicks that goal with less than two minutes to go and we somehow manage to score another two goals to get us in front and win the game."

While Franklin came alive in the second term, kicking three of his four goals in a 10-minute spree, the Hawks had plenty of contributors, including Shaun Burgoyne who had three majors and 26 touches.

Burgoyne, who kicked the decisive goal that put the Hawks back in front inside the last minute, was proud of his team's resolve but admits they must address their slow starts before the finals.

"They (Sydney) are a quality team, a top four team and when you're off just that little bit they are going to make you pay," Burgoyne said.

"We didn't come into that first quarter and took us until 15 minutes into second to get our act together and play how we wanted to play.

"A lot of that comes from bringing intensity and the right mindset.

"We definitely have to address that."

One thing the Hawks don't need to change is the impact of Franklin, who showed signs of his devastating best in his first game in six weeks due to a hamstring injury and illness.

"He played an important role for the side, kicked four goals and looked dangerous at different stages," Clarkson said of his star forward.

"It was a good return for him.

"I'm just pleased he came back into the side, played his role and got a game under his belt.

"He gets another next week against West Coast and hopefully prepares well for a big finals series for us."

The Hawks have leapfrogged Sydney into top spot and will wrap up the minor premiership if they beat West Coast on Friday night.

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