BOTP: Fitzy’s Pie-Break

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As the 2023 season draws to a close, it is a surprise to have a team feature for the first time on the classic game review, but here we are!

Collingwood is the most followed and most talked about team in the competition and boy do we love beating them!

So as you can imagine, my task of narrowing down hundreds of victories against the Pies to just one was excruciating. 

But as I always do for you awesome Talking Hawks fans, I have found one of the best home and away games that features an extremely unlikely hero.

It was Round 23 of what was an unbelievably exciting 2016 season and the equation was simple: win and get a second chance for the finals. 

This was the perfect round 23 game with strong finals implications, high scoring, skilful and dramatic. 

Coming into the game, Collingwood sat 12th on the AFL ladder but was building the nucleus of a team that played in a grand final 24 months later. 

The Hawks were sitting fourth but had lost two of their last three, with doubters believing the lofty average age of the team had caught up. 

Those doubters were licking their lips at quarter time, with the Pies coming out of the blocks quickly, kicking three of the first four goals of the game. 

James Sicily of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2016 AFL Round 23 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood Magpies at the...
Current skipper James Sicily was just a whippersnapper in the Round 23 clash with the Pies | Getty Images

It took a signature chase-down tackle by Cyril Rioli to swing momentum back the way of the Hawks late in the last quarter, resulting in a Luke Breust goal. 

Collingwood took a 10-point lead into the first change, with some wayward kicking hurting the boys in Brown and Gold. 

The second quarter was an absolute goal fest, with each side helping themselves to five goals throughout the term. 

Five individual goal-kickers for the Hawks in the term (caution, the following list may cause happy tears), with Breust, Gunston, Puopulo, Hodge and Rioli amongst the scoring!

Collingwood was throwing caution to the wind, playing a pure and attacking brand of football and thanks to this, held an 11-point half-time lead. 

After this list delivered a three-peat, not one fan in the stadium counted the Hawks out and the faith was rewarded with a dominant third quarter.

With the stakes high, the leaders stood up, kicking six goals to the Pies’ two and flipping the game on its head. 

Jack Fitzpatrick of the Hawks kicks a goal to level the scores during the 2016 AFL Round 23 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood...
Simply put; that kick | Getty Images

Cyril Rioli was at his dynamic and dangerous best with two goals in the quarter, Shaun Burgoyne stood up in a big spot for the 500th time and Jordan Lewis kicked the last of the quarter with six seconds remaining.

At the final change, the Hawks had flipped the margin on its head, now leading Collingwood by 12 points and with all of the momentum. 

Painfully, I have to give credit to this Collingwood side, who could have easily rolled over and allowed the Hawks, with more at stake, to run over them. 

It was they who came out and kicked the first two goals of the last quarter, levelling the scores ten minutes into the quarter. 

As was the quality of this Hawthorn side, the next three goals went our way, with the momentum swinging in big ways. 

James Sicily took a big mark and kicked a goal, Billy Hartung finished a coast-to-coast passage and Shaun Burgoyne did Shaun Burgoyne things. 

If you thought that was the final twist in the tale, you are sadly mistaken, with the plucky Pies refusing to give up the four points. 

They would kick four consecutive goals, hitting the front with only 2 minutes left on the clock thanks to recruit Adam Treloar. 

Paul Puopolo of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2016 AFL Round 23 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood Magpies at the...
Poppy loved a snag and kicked an important one against the Pies | Getty Images

Enter, the unlikeliest of heroes. 

Jack Fitzpatrick was playing his first game for the club after coming across for Melbourne and stood up in the biggest of spots. 

With the chance at the top four slipping from their grasp, Fitzpatrick took the ball from the clearance and launched a 65-metre bomb, levelling the scores again.

The look on Fitzy’s face suggested he was shocked that he had the leg, as well as the importance of the situation. 

Fitzpatrick would play only three more games for the club, but his legend will forever live on thanks to this one moment. 

With scores tied, the Hawks got a clearance and thanks to Paul Puopulo would hit the front with a behind and hold from there, winning by one point.

Final scores read:

Hawthorn 17.10.112

Collingwood 17.9.111

Sam Mitchell led the Hawks with 31 disposals, while Cyril Rioli was at his best with three goals and seven tackles. 

Despite the finals series not going the way we all wanted, this was one last signature win in a season filled with drama and excitement.

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