BOTP: A Swan Song In 2012

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In the second installment of the classic game review series, we look at the Sydney Swans. 

The Swans have become one of our biggest modern day rivals, with both clubs enjoying some long term success on the field, resulting in awesome games of footy. 

While there were a lot of games to choose from (excluding finals like mentioned in the first volume), there was one match that stood out in my mind as the obvious choice for this article.

That game is the Round 22 clash of 2012 at the SCG,

The stage was set for an epic and an epic is what we got, which is all the more remarkable, considering games with hype can often not deliver.

Coming into the Round 22 match, the Hawks task was simple; win the game, beat West Coast in Round 23, win the minor premiership. 

The task was going to be easy however, with the Swans sitting on top of the AFL ladder, a game clear and the best team in it. 

Our Hawks didn’t do themselves any favors in the first quarter either, finding themselves down by 26 points at quarter time, managing only one behind in the opening term, while the likes of Ryan O’Keefe, Jarrod McVeigh and Adam Goodes were dominating. 

The momentum didn’t shift until midway through the second quarter, with the Swans lead ballooning out to as large as 37 points, but finally the Hawk machine woke up.

Grant Birchall of the Hawks celebrates with Shaun Burgoyne at fulltime during the round 22 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Hawks...
Shaun Burgoyne celebrates with Grant Birchall after putting the Hawks in front in 2012 | Getty Images

A team that Alastair Clarkson called “the best team he has ever coached” dominated the last ten minutes of the second quarter in what could only be described as a scary fashion.

Goals to Buddy Franklin (3), Shaun Burgoyne (2) and Matt Suckling turned the game from a bust to a blockbuster with the Swan lead cut from 37 to five in the blink of an eye.

Shaun Burgoyne was the catalyst for the Hawks, kicking two vital goals and using his physicality to turn the game back in Hawthorn’s favor. 

With the break neck changes in momentum over the first half, the second half was seemingly goal for goal for the entirety. 

The highest second half margin was just seven points and that was at the final siren, but we will get to that. 

When you rewatch this game or the highlights that are available online, you are not surprised this was a top of the table clash, such was the quality on display at the SCG.

There were quality finishes by Jack Gunston and Liam Shiels snapping around the corner in the third quarter.

Jack Gunston of the Hawks is challenged by Martin Mattner of the Swans during the round 22 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Hawks...
Jack Gunston evades former Crow and Swan Marty Mattner in the third quarter | Getty Images

Add in the amazing efforts down back by Josh Gibson and Ben Stratton, ensuring they did not let the landslide of the first half repeat itself and the machine was in motion.

The quality of the contest was ensured because the Swans machine was equally in motion and fans could only thank the proverbial footy gods that we could witness.

Individual brilliance around the ground by leaders like Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis and Shaun Burgoyne. 

The back and forth nature led to a Ryan O’Keefe goal for Sydney with 2 minutes left and it didn’t look good for the brown and gold, but there was another twist in this game and a mentality of “we aren’t done” amongst this side.

Chasing down a clearance, captain Luke Hodge stepped inside on his trusty left and kicked toward Buddy on the lead.

When the ball sailed over Buddy’s head it was agony, until Shaun Burgoyne popped up and took a mark, settled himself down and nailed the goal, putting the Hawks up by one point and ensuring someone was going to be unlucky to lose this game.

The agony became ecstasy at that moment and only heightened when a genius Sam Mitchell tap lead to Brad Sewell in open space, with no threats between him and the goal.

From 52 (a distance that no one had kicked a goal from at that point) metres out and slamming through the sealer, with his battle-hardened fist pump symbolising the grit of the contest.

Hawks players celebrate at fulltime during the round 22 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Hawks at Sydney Cricket Ground on August...
It’s party time at the SCG as the Hawks win a thriller! | Getty Images

Only moments later, the siren went and the large contingent of Hawks fans erupted, taking over the SCG stands. 

The final score read:

Sydney 14.11.95

Hawthorn 15.12.102

The Hawks best on the day were Jordan Lewis with 28 disposals, Brad Sewell with 26 disposals and a goal and Buddy Franklin with four majors. 

However, the clear standout for the Hawks was Shaun Burgoyne, with a performance that introduced Hawthorn fans to “Mr Big Game”.

Burgoyne had 26 disposals and kicked three goals, including the aforementioned go-ahead goal late in the fourth.

We can only hope that a similar W in the column appears on Sunday afternoon.

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