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After the siren: Which was Buddy's greatest goal?

The 10: round 22's best moments Big grab, tough tackle, a huge collision and one of the best goals you'll ever see

IT WAS Lance Franklin's 30th birthday, but we got the present.

Sorry to steal from a cheesy advertising slogan, but on the very day Franklin turned 30, he dished up a goal that in so many ways replicated the best of his career, that against Essendon in 2010 in his Hawthorn days.

This column has watched so much of Franklin over the journey and here are the top five goals of his career. 

WATCH: Ten of Buddy's finest goals

1. 2010 v Essendon

The benchmark against which all his other goals are measured. The gather, the gut-bursting run and the post-high goal from deep in the forward pocket at the MCG.

2. 2017 v Adelaide

Almost as good, given that 30-year-olds, even if you are Lance Franklin, are not supposed to do such things on the footy field. Loses slight marks because a) he might have run a bit too far and b) the MCG pockets are a bit deeper, so the degree of difficulty in 2010 was that bit more.

3. 2011 v Collingwood

Turned Chris Tarrant inside out with a freak goal from the pocket late in the preliminary final to put the Hawks in front. Tarrant didn't do much wrong, mind you.

4. 2013 v Collingwood

The gather at full stretch, the leap and the long bomb from outside 50. So audacious. A bittersweet moment for Hawks fans, however because they already knew he was out the door at the end of the season. It was his last great goal in the brown and gold.

5. 2007 v Adelaide

The goal that sunk Adelaide at the end of the elimination final at Etihad Stadium. Greatness was imminent.

Nine things we learned from round 22


Is Josh Kelly the game's best midfielder?

There have been some notable individual efforts in footy this year, and for mine, the clubhouse leader is Patrick Dangerfield beating Hawthorn on one leg in round 17.

But what we saw from Josh Kelly on Saturday evening was remarkable.

The Greater Western Sydney midfielder recovered from a bone-jarring collision with Josh Kennedy to register a club-record 43 possessions and spark his team to a 21-point win over West Coast that keeps the Giants in second place ahead of a monstrous Saturday night visit to Geelong, with two home finals the reward for the winner.

Kelly has been brilliant all year and is now front and centre when it comes to any conversation about the very best midfielders in the competition. The Giants have a host of great onballers and it is no coincidence that Stephen Coniglio's return to the side has coincided with them playing their best football of the year.

But it is Kelly who provides them with their X-factor. He has played with a target on his back all year and it has spurred him to greater heights, so who knows how good he can be in September? The thinking here is that he can be very, very good.

Of course, you can't have an opinion on Kelly without a prediction about his future. If the Giants win the flag, he walks. And you couldn't blame him for doing so given the dollar figures being thrown around.

But if they don't, he gives himself another two years to try and win one with the club that drafted him.

The run home: How does the final round shape up?

Carlton leaves Hawks singing the blues

Nice week to be a Carlton supporter. Twelve years of misery at the hands of the Hawks was finally put to bed on Saturday night with a seven-point win that was more impressive and comprehensive than the scoreline would suggest.

The Blues jumped the Hawks early and withstood a pair of Hawthorn comebacks. And at the end they out-Hawthorned the Hawks, holding their nerve and playing some excellent tempo football while running down the clock.

Marc Murphy and Sam Docherty did an excellent job of marshalling the Blues, while Charlie Curnow was terrific in key moments at the end. Jed Lamb played the agitator role to perfection on James Sicily. The sprouts that coach Brendon Bolton likes referring to had been dormant for much of the winter, but with spring just around the corner, they're starting to bloom again.

And you couldn't blame Blues fans for their guttural roars at the end. It had been 4495 days since they had last beaten the Hawks. The excitement was justified. And real.

Fantasy form watch: Unlikely heroes start to shine

Hogan the hero, but what's what with Watts?

Cancer, a family bereavement and a busted collarbone. It has been a horror year for Jesse Hogan yet enough for some, strangely, to question his worth to the Demons.

So there he was on Sunday booting six goals to help deliver a 13-point win over the Brisbane Lions that was a bit too anxiety-inducing than it should have been for Melbourne.

He formed a brilliant partnership with Cam Pedersen, who had 24 touches and kicked three goals, and it would appear they have closed the door shut on Jack Watts returning to the side any time soon.

It will be quite the thing if Watts – exhibit A when it comes to Melbourne's ineptitude for the last few years – can't get a game when the Demons finally play finals.

But Hogan is the guy, and while circumstances have kept him from offering the Demons all that much this year, he might be saving his best for precisely the right time of the year.

WATCH: Many happy returns for six-goal Hogan

Other observations

1. Adelaide has earned itself two home finals in 2017. Play their cards right, and the Crows might not need to leave South Australia in September until the Grand Final. But the quirky stat is that they have lost three games at home, so whoever travels to Adelaide for a final should by no means be thinking it to be mission impossible. By contrast, they've also won four of five in Melbourne, with the other a draw.

The run home: How round 23 is shaping up

2. By the letter of the law, the pivotal 50m penalty conceded by the Crows to Callum Mills in the final quarter at Adelaide Oval was there. The umpire had not called play-on. But Mills was clearly off, and had played on and this is where commonsense comes into play. There would have been no issue from anyone if the umpire had not paid the 50, but allowed Mills to keep the ball.

3. No Easton Wood at one end, now no Jake Stringer at the other. The premiership defence from the Western Bulldogs has never really got going and they appear likely to become the first club since Hawthorn in 2009 to miss the finals the year after winning the flag. But the disappointment needs to put to the side for a week as Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd get the farewell games they deserve. The Bulldogs will bear watching after this; Luke Beveridge made some big calls at selection this year, so we're expecting the same philosophy when it comes to list management. He would have learned enough from his time at Hawthorn, so we should expect the unexpected come October.

4. David Parkin spends a lot of time at the Hawthorn Football Club and as an official legend of the club, he has an access-most-areas pass. But it will make for an interesting observation the next time he and James Sicily are in the same room out at Waverley. Parkin has been a trenchant critic of Sicily who, while undisciplined on Saturday night, has been excellent for several weeks before that. Perhaps a get-to-know-each other session might be in order. Sicily opened up to a few weeks back and it was an illuminating interview.

Around the state leagues: Who starred in your club's twos?

WATCH: Lamb v Sicily: Pesky Blue riles Hawk

5. AFL football in Ballarat was an unqualified success in every way, bar a win to the 'home team', the Western Bulldogs. Even then, the South Australian teams feel like they're playing in friendly surrounds because of how many of their supporters make the place their base when travelling to games in Melbourne. If we had one wish for the games next season, it is a sideways wind and a touch of sleet. Just how the locals like it.

6. These are dark times for the Dockers with back to back 104-point defeats. There are some in footy who believe 18 games to be the ideal season length and you won't get too many arguments out of Freo at the moment.

7. It was a comeback weekend for two former Gold Coast players, whose fresh starts at new clubs haven't gone anywhere near to plan. Harley Bennell kicked two goals in a bright start, but managed just six disposals in a quiet display. He'll be better for the run. Jaeger O'Meara's first game for Hawthorn in 16 weeks was the opposite. He started slowly before playing well in the middle two quarters, but that's now five games and five losses for the 2013 Rising Star winner while wearing his new colours.


8. Another former Sun, Josh Caddy, picked the wrong time to ping his hamstring. Jacob Townsend comes in for just his fourth game for Richmond in his stead and kicks a lazy six goals against the Dockers. He'll get a game next week for sure and will be hard to dislodge from there.

WATCH: Townsend's day out against the Dockers

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs