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Fantastic Franklin's Friday night freak show

Ashley Browne

Ashley Browne

Written on Saturday, 19 June 2010 00:08

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Friday night at the MCG was shaping us as one of the finest Essendon wins in recent times. Down by five goals to Hawthorn at one stage, they did what they do best - put the skates on and run the ball down the middle of the ground.

They did it well and they appeared set to run over the Hawks before Lance Franklin lifted his team on to his ample shoulders and guided them home.

The man is a freak. His three goals during the first three term wwre important, but with players like Michael Osborne, Beau Muston close to goal and Sam Mitchell, Shaun Burgoyne and Jordan Lewis, he had some help around the ground.

But in the last quarter the Hawks were wilting. Those dressed in brown and gold and of a certain age couldn't help but think back to the 1984 grand final, when the Bombers stormed home from four goals down at the final change to win by a similar margin.

But Buddy didn't believe in history. Twice, he gathered the ball deep on the members wing and set sail for goal. First Mark McVeigh and then Cale Hooker and his recovering hamstrings couldn't keep pace and after a three bounces each time, Franklin slotted the goals home.

Both were goals against the run of play, and with the Hawks dead on their feet. But as acts of inspiration you would never see better. Being a Hawthorn home game, the entire northern side of the MCG went absolutely spare after both Franklin goals, his teammates lifted a notch and goals to Muston, Lewis and Osborne got the Hawks home for the most pulsating of wins.

Hawthorn is now 7-6 and has huge momentum after six wins on the trot. Nevertheless, the break comes at a handy time, with several players sorry and sore after the final siren.

The Bombers are 5-8, in trouble, but not out of finals contention entirely. Certainly not with Adelaide, Melbourne and West Coast to come in the next four weeks. They were brave with their fightback on Friday night, but would want more from key forwards Michael Hurley and Scott Gumbleton, who delivered next to nothing all evening. Their skipper was outstanding, Jason Winderlich has won over this observer who never used to rate him, and Andrew Welsh again put the clamps on Luke Hodge.

But they had nobody for Franklin, who now obviously is back to his 2008 Coleman Medal-winning form. We've got a grand final rematch to savour next week, but after a couple of floggings in their last two meetings, I bet Buddy is already counting down to a Friday night stoush with Brian Lake in a fortnight's time.



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