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'Silk' steps up when the heat is on, and the Hawks love it

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 8: Shaun Burgoyne and Cyril Rioli of the Hawthorn Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2015 AFL round 19 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Hawthorn Hawks at Domain Stadium, Perth, Australia on August 8, 2015. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
Hawthorn star Shaun Burgoyne celebrates a goal with Cyril Rioli against the Eagles.

WHEN Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson reflects on his career, he will look back to the final quarter of the 2013 preliminary final as the defining moment.

On that famous Friday night, Hawthorn defeated Geelong by five points after overcoming a 20-point three-quarter time deficit.

Perhaps when he pauses to take stock on what happened in 2015, the final quarter against West Coast on Saturday night will stand out.

Not only did it boost Hawthorn's chances of finishing top two, it gave the Hawks the confidence they could win anywhere regardless of where they finish on the ladder.

If Clarkson does have such a contemplative moment, there is one player who should be venerated above all others for kicking two of the better goals kicked in the Clarkson era in each of those quarters.

His name is Shaun Burgoyne, the man teammates dubbed 'Silk' soon after he arrived at the Hawks for obvious reasons.

Since 2011, he has kicked 40 per cent of his goals when the margin has been 10 points or less.

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Burgoyne's goal on Saturday night – which stretched the Hawks' lead to nine points with eight minutes remaining - was an exact replica of the goal he kicked with less than six minutes to go in the pulsating 2013 preliminary against Geelong.

That goal against Geelong put the Hawks in front by two points and proved the match-winner.

Unfortunately for former Hawk assistant Adam Simpson, he happened to be on the receiving end this time.

The goals were the complete package: the handball received, the bursting run, the urgent steady, the drop punt kick, and the now familiar celebration.

On both occasions Burgoyne trusted a teammate under pressure to get the job done and get the ball to him in space - Jordan Lewis via Jack Gunston in the preliminary final, and Paul Puopolo against the Eagles.

Against the Cats, he took nine steps before booting the goal, kicking over an oncoming opponent in Jimmy Bartel who was attempting to smother the ball.

He had less time against the Eagles, keeping his steps shorter as his opponent Sharrod Wellingham came hard and fast to attempt a smother.

There was no trickery on either occasion, no banana or dribble kick, no attempt to baulk the oncoming opponent.

Burgoyne kicked high and straight, performing the basics under exceptional frontal pressure and, in the preliminary final at least, with the stakes as high as is possible.

No wonder the Hawks fans love him.

In the 130 matches he has played since the start of 2011, he has kicked 15.1 from inside 15m, the distance range that both these goals were scored from.

Had Burgoyne kicked 14.2, then the recent history of the Hawthorn footy club may well be very different.

He has kicked 69 goals since 2011, with 43.24 coming from general play and an extraordinary 24.7 coming from marks. 

Burgoyne is a humble type, a man who speaks quietly and commands little fuss. His celebrations after both goals however revealed the competitive streak that has kept him wanting the ball in the clutch moments. 

In the final quarter of the preliminary final he had six disposals, won two free kicks for holding the ball, his diving tackle on James Kelly saved a goal while the pressure he applied on Bartel presented Bradley Hill with a chance to kick a goal.

On Saturday night he had five disposals and gained 117m, as well as restricting Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis's influence at centre clearances.

You don't hear anyone complaining about the state of the game when Burgoyne's around.

He's a star and Clarkson knows it.

 


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