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The Chase: Can 'Buddy' join the finals greats?

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IN BIG games, you want the big players to stand up.

And no player is more capable of turning a finals match on its head than Lance 'Buddy' Franklin.

The Swan needs just one goal in Saturday's elimination final against Essendon to move into outright fifth for most goals in finals

It's been 10 years since Buddy's first finals appearance, and he is showing few signs of slowing down. 

Franklin, who is coming off a 10-goal, Coleman Medal-winning haul against Carlton in round 23, is currently in equal-fifth spot alongside Stephen Kernahan and Alastair Lynch.

In ominous signs for Bombers fans, Franklin loves playing Essendon more than any other team, averaging nearly five goals a match against the red and black.

Who's next best?

Legendary Collingwood forward Gordon Coventry was a finals specialist, kicking 111 goals over 31 finals appearances (an average of 3.58 a game).

Jason Dunstall (78) and Jack Titus (74) round out the top three, while if Sydney go deep into September, Franklin may be a chance of overhauling Leigh Matthews (fourth with 72, seven ahead of Franklin). 

Of the current day group, four of the top five are premiership players, with recently retired Saint Nick Riewoldt the exception.

Fast fact: Franklin’s most goals in a final is eight in the 2008 qualifying final against the Bulldogs at the MCG.

CURRENT CHASERS
Finals goals Player Club(s)
65 Lance Franklin Sydney/Hawthorn
42 Jarryd Roughead Hawthorn
41 Nick Riewoldt St Kilda
38 Steve Johnson Greater Western Sydney/Geelong
34 Travis Cloke Collingwood

Another Franklin milestone within reach

Franklin first donned the No.23 jumper in the second season of his career and has since made it his own while at both Hawthorn and Sydney.

With his excellent record against Essendon in mind, Buddy needs just five goals to become the highest goalkicker wearing number 23.

Doug Wade, who wore the number over his 12 seasons at Geelong, currently holds the record, which sits at a whopping 834 goals. 

Other famous number 23s include Dermott Brereton, Stewart Loewe and Andrew McLeod.

'Buddy' is entering the finals in hot form. Picture: AFL Photos

The Chaser: Can the Tigers and the Bombers finally deliver a finals win?

There's been many disappointing Septembers for Richmond and Essendon fans since the turn of the century.

While the Bombers did win the 2000 premiership, their last taste of a September win came 290 games ago in 2004, an elimination final against Melbourne.

It's been an even more frustrating wait for Richmond fans, with the Tigers' last finals win occurring back in 2001, a semi-final victory against Carlton.

That was 356 games ago for Richmond, the equivalent of a very long individual playing career. To put it in perspective, the only current players to have been on AFL lists in 2001  are Shaun Burgoyne, Nick Riewoldt and Drew Petrie (the latter two have both announced their retirements).

It's still a long way from the longest finals drought of 1040 games, which was set by South Melbourne/Sydney between its Grand Final loss in 1945 and its qualifying final win over Hawthorn in 1996.

 

Text: Sarah Black | Designs: Kahla Emonson | Stats: Cameron Sinclair

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