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Talisman Roughead inspires Hawks as Cyril breaks Swans' hearts

Football

The last time they played Sydney, Hawthorn suffered a painful defeat, tinged by the raw news of Jarryd Roughead’s cancer diagnosis.

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Nearly two months later the star forward made a precious contribution from the sidelines, helping coach Alastair Clarkson and his reigning premiers steal last night’s top-of-the-table crunch clash by five points.

Clarkson revealed he sought Roughead’s opinion on the tight contest at the SCG, a result that puts two games between the ladder-leading Hawks and the rest of the ladder ahead of Round 17.

“He’s just a really calming influence because he reads the game so well,” Clarkson said.

“He’s hugely admired by his teammates so they seek his counsel, particularly our younger players.

“He sat in the box today and at different stages you just ask him, ‘What are you seeing Rough?’

“Sometimes it’ll just be a little bit different to the way we’re seeing it.

“Or sometimes as coaches we’ll be too over the top in our criticism of a movement of the ball or a player’s decision.

“He can be that reassuring player’s voice from time to time.”

While admitting Hawthorn did not play their best footy, Clarkson was encouraged that his triple reigning premiers also stopped Sydney from executing theirs.

Hawks' coach Alastair Clarkson (centre) joins players in singing the team song following their win during the round 17 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on Thursday, July 14, 2016. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Hawks’ coach Alastair Clarkson joins players in singing the team song. Photo: Paul Miller, AAP.

Apart from Cyril Rioli’s long-range match-winner and Shaun Burgoyne’s two fourth-quarter clutch goals, Sam Mitchell took a match-high 37 possessions.

It was a standout performance for the star midfielder, who had been kept quiet by Tom Mitchell in May’s round-nine loss to the Swans – the Hawks’ last defeat.

That came just days after news that Roughead’s melanoma had spread into his body.

“We had a fair few guys who weren’t anywhere near their best in that particular game,” Clarkson said.

“Some of that was to do with Sydney, and full credit to them.

“But some of it was to do with the week we’d had – that was the announcement of Roughy’s illness.

“I’m proud in a sense that some of our players did wear their hearts on their sleeves that night and didn’t perform quite as well because he means so much to us.”

Clarkson praised Burgoyne for his flexibility and Rioli for his late, late heroics.

“For Cyril to kick that goal was pretty special – he was a long way out,” he said.

“I think there was a slight wind advantage to that end, he won’t claim that though.

“But it was a great kick, a pressure kick… he was important at really important moments.”

Sydney coach John Longmire says he won’t follow up on two costly 50m penalties in the Swans’ narrow loss, but questioned the game’s uneven free-kick count.

Longmire’s side coughed up two goals in the five-point defeat, after Kieren Jack and Ben McGlynn were penalised for entering the protected zone.

The close calls led to Jonathan O’Rourke scoring just before three-quarter time and Jonathon Ceglar slotting during a dramatic final quarter.

“I don’t know, ask the umpires, I really don’t know to be honest,” said Longmire, who won’t seek clarification from the AFL’s umpiring department.

“No, I won’t worry about it… I’ll worry about what I can control.”

Dan Hannebery of the Swans reacts to their loss during the round 17 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on Thursday, July 14, 2016. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Dan Hannebery reacts on the siren. Photo: Paul Miller, AAP.

The coach, however, also expressed concern over the game’s lopsided free-kick tally, which finished at 15-9 to the Hawks but had been more lopsided earlier.

“Obviously we were undisciplined because the free-kick count was 3-13 at three-quarter time,” Longmire said.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a differential like that for quite a while.

“We’ll have to get better at our discipline, clearly, because that’s a big differential.”

Clarkson found the umpiring to be “pretty strong” but observed the obvious challenge with the 50m rule lay in the consistency of its interpretation.

Longmire was miffed to have come off second best in another close encounter, having lost by four points to the Western Bulldogs a fortnight ago.

In both games the Swans had a chance to go top, but could now end up as low as seventh by the end of this round.

But Longmire insisted it wouldn’t derail his side’s season.

“We win and we’re on top of the ladder, so I’m still pretty confident with the year we’ve got,” he said.

“We’ve made some giant steps forward and we’ve still got a fair bit of footy to play this year.”

Sydney will wait to learn the extent of Zak Jones’ ankle injury after the defender was carried from the field with a leg injury in the final term.

-AAP

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