BOTP: The Tackle That Saved Clarko

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For the first and only time in 2023, we look at the past against the Richmond Tigers, a team that has had the measure of our Hawks in recent times.

Throughout this series, I have loved looking at the obscure and at times, disrespected games in the history of this club.

From the unlikely wins to the major moments that can be forgotten, finding these gold nuggets has been a genuine pleasure.

This week is the exception to the rule, as I can’t help but discuss one of the more important and discussed wins this club has had in the last 15 years.

Let me take you back to Round 8 2010 and just 29 games after guiding a young team to a premiership, Alistair Clarkson’s job was under serious scrutiny. 

Sitting at 1-6 and facing the 0-7 Tigers, if Clarko couldn’t get the job done, it was more than likely he was facing the axe. 

This backdrop set up one of the more dramatic and important wins we have seen in recent times, so let’s get into it.

Lance Franklin of the Hawks takes a bounce as he runs the ball out of the back line during the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and...
Buddy breaks clear of Alex Rance at the MCG | Getty Images

It was a relatively sunny Sunday afternoon at the MCG in front of 40,000 fans, with the stakes high despite the ladder positions of the two sides.

Richmond came out and threw the first punch, kicking the first three goals of the game and sending the dreaded thought of losing through the minds of the Brown and Gold army.

Inaccurate kicking was the theme of this period, with Lance Franklin struggling for accuracy and surprisingly Jarryd Roughead going through a rare lean patch.

The Hawks had five of the last six shots on goal, but unfortunately couldn’t turn it into a lead, with Franklin and Grant Birchall the only two to kick truly. 

Quarter-time scores had the Tigers in front by two points, despite having three fewer shots at goal compared to their opponent. 

Territory dominance continued the way of Hawthorn to start the second quarter, with the key difference being the ability to convert territory into goals.

Shaun Burgoyne of the Hawks is congratulated by teammates after their win in the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Hawthorn...
Ben Stratton gets around the man affectionately known as “Silk”, Shaun Burgoyne | Getty Images

Carl Peterson, Clinton Young and Jordan Lewis all kicked goals to start the second quarter and the momentum was indeed Brown and Gold’s. 

Richmond managed to tear back a bit of the momentum and even the rest of the quarter, with both sides kicking two goals for the rest of the half.

Cyril Rioli and Carl Peterson were the two to kick the goals for the Hawks, showcasing the individual brilliance both of them possessed. 

The halftime scores showed a seven-point halftime lead for the Hawks, with the game beautifully poised. 

This game was the first of 250 for Shaun Burgoyne in a Hawthorn jumper and considering the change of fortune between the time he wasn’t in the side and what happened after, I can’t see it as coincidence.

Trent Cotchin of the Tigers is tackled by Cyril Rioli of the Hawks during the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Hawthorn...
Cyril looks at Trent Cotchin and says “I’ve got you” | getty Images

Burgoyne was a genuine star for the Hawks and his 20 disposals, five marks and cool head under pressure were a big reason for the result. 

The third quarter was everything you expect from two desperate teams who are struggling to get a win at that stage of the season.

It was tough, it was sloppy and it was exciting, with both teams throwing themselves into the contest with a vigour that is rarely seen.

Inaccuracy would soon rear its ugly head again, with the key difference between the two sides being conversion in front of goal.

Richmond kicked two goals from their two opportunities, whereas, the Hawks kicked two goals from their six shots on goal.

Batman and Robin were the two who kicked truly for the Hawks, with Roughead and Franklin finally getting the radar on track. 

Hawthorn players run through the banner at the start of the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Hawthorn Hawks at Melbourne...
The Hawks prepare for a battle with the Tigers and walked away with the coach’s job in tact | Getty Images

Going into the final quarter with an 11-point lead, the heart was in the mouth and the game was on the line. 

It is fair to say the Cyril Rioli show came to town at the perfect time for those supporting the Hawks in this one. 

After Roughead kicked truly one minute into the last quarter, Cyril Rioli took over the game, kicking the last three Hawthorn goals of the quarter. 

Despite the brilliance, Richmond wasn’t going away and kicked five goals for the quarter, including the last two to bring the game to three points.

With all of the momentum, Shane Tuck went streaming forward, with the goals in sight before one of the great captains moments in recent times.

Alastair Clarkson coach of the Hawks watches his team warm up during the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Hawthorn Hawks at...
A shadow was cast over Clarko as he led his boys to a three point win | Getty Images

Sam Mitchell lunged full length, dived at Tuck and forced the ball out, laying a tackle that was game-saving and potentially career-saving in the case of Alistair Clarkson. 

The final siren sounded, and the Hawks got out of jail, winning the game and starting a seven-game win streak. 

Final scores read

Richmond 13.8.86

Hawthorn 13.11.89

On top of the match-saving tackle, Sam Mitchell had 29 disposals and five clearances, Cyril Rioli kicked his four goals with 17 disposals and Luke Hodge was a wall down back with 27 disposals and seven rebound 50’s.

Despite this being of the more talked about and discussed wins in the modern history of this club, I could not help but go back and talk about it due to its.

Without this win, the last 13 years could potentially look extremely different, making it one of the biggest sliding doors moments we have seen.

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