HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson has declared Sydney's four-goal match-winner Tom Papley "milks free kicks as good as anyone in the competition" after the Hawks' narrow loss to the Swans at the SCG.
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Clarkson's Sydney counterpart and long-time friend, John Longmire, was left bewildered by the critique, which came after Papley was bowled over by Hawk James Frawley after crumbing a goal in the second quarter of the thrilling clash.
Papley, the Coleman Medal leader midway through round eight, was awarded a free kick next to the goalsquare and snapped truly to make it two goals in 20 seconds.
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The Swans prevailed by seven points in a hard-fought clash, snapping a four-game losing streak of their own and condemning the Hawks to a fourth successive defeat.
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When asked about the 'double goal' Papley scored in the second term, Clarkson said: "He milks a free kick as well as anyone in the competition, and did so on this occasion again."
"You just wish they were consistently paid to everyone that gets knocked off the ball like that.
"There was probably five either side tonight, and they pay one."
Longmire was stunned when told of Clarkson's comments in his media conference that followed.
"Alastair said that about Papley?" a bemused Swans coach replied, before shaking his head and saying: "Don't talk about opposition players and clubs."
When asked if the umpire had made the right call, Longmire said: "I'm not here to comment on that and I don't think I'll be commenting on opposition players."
Longmire was effusive in his praise of Papley, not only for his goalscoring feats but his ability to lead an inexperienced Sydney forward line.
"His experience and leadership qualities up [forward] have been good. He just wants to compete and win. That's certainly to his credit, and he's doing that really well," he said.
"He's just got that personality, and we encourage that. If you've got that natural instinct to compete, and that energy, it just rubs off on players.
"But it's not only his job, it's everyone else's job and we've got to make sure we all carry that load as well. He's smart, he's a competitor. He's just a good player."
Longmire's frustration at Clarkson's comments follows just a fortnight after Richmond coach Damien Hardwick apologised for his criticism of what he perceived as overly defensive tactics in the Tigers' low-scoring, 12-point win over the Swans at the SCG.
Clarkson's assessment of Papley came after the Swans forward was the difference in a clash the Hawks coach said was defined by the "polish" exhibited by both sides.
"Probably the difference between the two sides was their polish at either end of the ground compared to ours," Clarkson told reporters after the match.
"They were able to convert some chances out of half-chances. We weren't able to do that at the other end."
Meanwhile, Longmire was delighted with his young players' ability to hold their nerve in a tense finish.
"We only had the two players with 150 games, and four players that had played a combined total of five games," he said.
"In that last bit there were young blokes playing well.
"Oli Florent's last period [was good]. And [James] Rowbottom and [debutant] Lingy [Matthew Ling] got a bit in that last quarter."