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Talking points: Adelaide v Hawthorn

Highlights: Adelaide v Hawthorn The Crows and Hawks clash in round 14
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Shaun Burgoyne of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2017 AFL round 14 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Adelaide Oval on June 22, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Media)
Shaun Burgoyne was one of the Hawks' best

1. Finals are off the radar? Yeah right!
Alastair Clarkson said one thing on the eve of this match but his actions told a different story, and so did those of his players. The four-time premiership coach said on Wednesday finals were the furthest thing from his mind. Maybe they are, but he and his team certainly haven't given up on them. Nor should Hawthorn's true believers following a spine-tingling win against the top side at Adelaide Oval. The Hawks coach brought in four trusted premiership players and 796 games of experience for this clash. Luke Hodge, Luke Breust, Grant Birchall and Ryan Schoenmakers returned and immediately made Hawthorn look more like a side capable of playing September football. The Hawks booted the opening two goals of the contest – two more than they managed in the entire first half the last time they ventured to Adelaide three weeks ago. But it was in the second half where Hawthorn stunned Adelaide with a stirring combination of pressure, hard run and clean skills to win a game that looked lost when trailing by 18 points at half-time. At 5-8, the Hawks are incredibly just two wins behind fourth-placed Port Adelaide, although they have played an extra game.

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2. Do the Crows have a plan B?
Adelaide might have thought its late flurry of goals before half-time broke Hawthorn's spirit but the Crows were in for a rude third-term shock. The Hawks appeared to abandon their kick-mark plan in the third term and resorted to the template which has caused the Crows problems this year – high pressure. At one point Hawthorn had 10 consecutive inside-50s and completely stifled Adelaide's ball movement with pressure on the ball carrier and hard work behind the footy. The Crows went lateral and too many of their players ran ahead of the contest. Ryan Burton nailed two superb goals late in the third term and the Hawks hit the front. Not for the first time this season, the Crows couldn't respond when challenged. Their coach failed to activate plan B, but do they have one?

SHOWREEL: Hawks' midfield maestros lead in the last

3. Young Hawks spread wings as Henderson haunts Crows
Alastair Clarkson was typically measured when asked what he thought of Ryan Burton's match post game, but he must have been privately thrilled with what Burton and the other young Hawks produced in the Adelaide Oval cauldron. Hawthorn clearly won the war for territory throughout the third term, but their inability to hit the scoreboard looked set to hurt them until Burton stepped up to the plate with two superb late goals which were a key to Hawthorn's stirring win. "We controlled a lot of the ball and we just couldn't convert,'' Clarkson said. "I'm glad he (Burton) converted those two and put some scoreboard pressure back (on Adelaide)." Burton finished with 21 disposals across half back and played one of his best games. Fellow youngsters Daniel Hardwick and Daniel Howe also acquitted themselves well in promising signs for the club. Ricky Henderson is no longer a youngster but he played like a man with a point to prove. In his 100th game, against the side with whom he played 90 of those matches, Henderson booted two telling late goals and finished with 30 possessions.

 

4. Burgoyne must play on in 2018
Burgoyne continues to play at level comparable to his prime. He showed his genius in the opening minute of Thursday's contest when he snapped a brilliant goal in traffic and went on to be among the Hawks best with a massive final term. Burgoyne is not on huge money, and with this week's news of a huge increase in the salary cap, money should not be a factor in the Hawks' decision. He is not standing in the way of younger midfielders and will assist with their development. Old heads will be vital at the Hawks as they continue to reshape their squad in 2018. The durable 34-year-old, who was playing his 332nd game and 96th in a row, appears on track to hit the 350-game milestone next season.

 

5. Greenwood a find for Crows
Adelaide fans have spent the past week bemoaning the fact the club didn't give up two first-round draft picks to acquire the red-hot Bryce Gibbs, and questioning whether the decision will cost the Crows a flag. Hugh Greenwood is no Gibbs. He was playing just his fifth game on Thursday night. But the 25-year-old basketball convert might just be a key piece of the Adelaide midfield jigsaw puzzle. In the Crows' losses this year their midfielders have not been strong enough over the ball. Greenwood has a mature body, he's hard over the ball and has solid foot skills. He had 13 disposals to half-time, nine of them contested and went at 92 per cent by foot. His second goal seconds from the three-quarter time siren was high quality off one-step from 45m.

More to come