AFL 2020: Sydney v Hawthorn – Round Eight Knee Jerk Reaction

Does Sydney’s Tom Papley ‘Milk Free Kicks as Good as Anyone? Or is Hawks Coach Alastair Clarkson the Master of Misdirection?

Does Tom Papley ‘Milk Free Kicks as Good as Anyone? Or is Alastair Clarkson the Master of Misdirection?

I love magic. Couldn’t do a magic trick if you paid me but I know that misdirection is the name of the game if I wanted to. A magician uses it to pull the wool over our eyes by making sure we are never looking anywhere we shouldn’t. Alastair Clarkson would make an excellent magician.

The trick, as Clarkson well knows, is that there needs to be a reason for the audience to look away. You can’t just point and yell bear and expect somebody to turn away. There needs to be a truth in the deception if you will. It is with this knowledge that he has managed, for the second time in five games, to use a furphy to direct attention away from the diabolical form of his football team.

Four weeks ago his press conference became a referendum on holding the ball. There are still people willing to argue that he was right that paying it more would be the solution all the games’ ills despite his team scoring 49, 27, 48 and 53 with his suggested improvement implemented.

On Saturday he was at it again. Despite his side’s inability to score a goal between the third minute of the third and 20th minute of the fourth quarters, his post-match comments regarding Tom Papley fill the headlines. The Herald Sun’s digital platform screams Clarko Takes Aim at Papley for Milking Frees. The Age similarly reads He Milks Free Kicks as Good As Anyone. Four Goal Papley Earns Ire of Clarkson as Swans beat Hawks.

Classic Clarko. He is the master.

How the Game Was Won

Tom Papley was in the headlines post match but not for the reason he deserved. The newest target of Alastair Clarkson’s attempts to divert attention from his own team, claims of staging are being highlighted rather than his hot start to the season. In a low scoring slug fest, Paley’s ability to hit the scoreboard when others couldn’t was ultimately telling.

So too the brave effort of Dane Rampe down back. At the time of writing we aren’t aware of the extent of his hand/wrist injury but it appears to have been serious in nature. It definitely was the cause of a number of interesting handball attempts as he kept his team in the game with his intercept marking across half back.

He was assisted in part by some ordinary decision making by the Hawks going forward. Despite, or perhaps because of, a large experience advantage they were more timid than their opposition. Where the Swans would take risks at times to move the ball more quickly, the Hawks really only did so in desperation near the games conclusion.

In the end, although it was a close run thing, it was a case of who dares wins. Between Tom Mitchell’s goal in the third minute of the third quarter and James Sicilly’s in the 20th minute of the fourth, the Swans had turned an eight point deficit into a 13 point lead. The Hawks unwillingness, or inability to take the game on costing them the chance to win it.

What the Coaches Said


John Longmire refused to be drawn on Alastair Clarkson’s comments regarding Tom Papley preferring to praise his star forward. “He’s smart, he’s a competitor, he’s a good player,” he said. “He’s just got that personality, we encourage that, if you’ve got that natural instinct to compete and energy, it does rub off on players.”

Given the disparity in experience between the two teams, Hawthorn had nine 150+ players while the Swans had two, he reserved praise for the performances of his younger players. “That last bit, there was younger blokes playing well, certainly Ollie Florent’s last period, (James) Rowbottom, It’s hard to train pressure games, pressure situations, against experienced teams and sometimes you live it and you hope that we get it right, and they were able to hang in there.”


Alastair Clarkson identified execution as the major factor in his team’s defeat. “We lost the game of footy because we just didn’t have enough polish,” he said post match. “We had the scoring shots and the opportunity.” Despite his attempts to discredit their star performer, he was full of praise for the oppositions structures. “The Swans seemed to have a lot more space and a lot more danger in their offence.” After dropping to their fourth consecutive defeat, he admitted it had effected his team. “We have a group down on confidence at the moment. We came to Sydney 3-1 and now we are 3-5.”

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SYDNEY           2.1       5.1       8.2       9.6 (60)
HAWTHORN    3.3       5.3       6.6       7.11 (53) 

Sydney: Papley 4, Reid, Parker, Taylor, McCartin, Blakey
Hawthorn: O’Meara, Shiels, Gunston, Wingard, Burgoyne, Mitchell, Sicily

Sydney: Papley, Lloyd, Rowbottom, Rampe, Florent, Parker, Mills
Hawthorn: O’Meara, Sicily, Shiels, Mitchell, Frawley

Sydney: Rampe (hand)
Hawthorn: Nil

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