Hawks coach marvels at Roughead, Buddy

Jarryd Roughead’s match-winner at the SCG is going to take some beating as far as feel-good stories go this AFL season.

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Roughead converted a set shot from beyond the 50m arc with 80 seconds remaining on Friday night, handing Hawthorn a six-point win over Sydney.

He celebrated jubilantly. And rightly so.

The clutch captain’s goal came almost a year to the date he was diagnosed with a recurrence of melanoma, with cancer having spread to his lung.

Roughead successfully recovered and has led the Hawks to four wins this year; the most recent no doubt being the sweetest.

“It’s been a tough road for him,” Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said.

“Whether it’s injury or illness, this game teaches you to build character and demonstrate resilience. The really mentally tough can withstand the rigours of the game.

“But (Lance Franklin) had that little tough patch in his life too. Those two lads, they’ve enjoyed a lot of success in the game but also had tough periods in their lives.

“It’s pleasing that they’ve come out the other side and become stronger and better people.”

Franklin took time out of the sport and missed the 2015 finals because of mental health issues. The champion forward was back to his best in 2016 and continues to shine.

Franklin booted five goals against his former side on Friday night, dished off a couple and created plenty of headaches with his frenzied pressure.

Clarkson admitted he had mixed feelings about the form of Franklin, who won the Goodes-O’Loughlin medal for best on ground.

“Sometimes it’s a little bit hard to admire when you’re an opposition coach,” he laughed of Franklin, who won two flags and played 182 games with the Hawks.

“He just consistently does brilliant things. He’ll probably continue to do that for a long time for the Sydney footy club.

“He’s a great servant of both clubs. I’m pleased to see him doing well, pleased to see he’s really content and happy in his life.

“He’s still really close to a lot of people at our football club, particularly the players … we wish him well.

“It made it all the more pleasing in a sense, that he was able to have a significant contribution but we were able to still win.”

Franklin now sits 10th on the list of VFL/AFL goalkickers, having lifted his career tally to 819.

“He was enormous,” Swans coach John Longmire said of his star charge.

“He was very rarely beaten in one on ones, one on twos, one on threes.”

Maguire savages "unacceptable" Souths

The door might just be back on the hinges by the time South Sydney players return from their bye in a fortnight following coach Michael Maguire’s almighty spray on Friday night.

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The week off couldn’t have come at a better time for Rabbitohs players, if only to get themselves a few days away from their seething coaching staff following Friday night’s 22-16 NRL loss to Parramatta.

Maguire ordered his players to have a good hard look at themselves. He was furious after they fumbled their way through the first half and to a 4-8 record to leave their season in tatters before their round 14 clash with Brisbane.

“It was unacceptable for what we expected,” Maguire said.

“We need to have a good hard look at ourselves.

“Look in the mirror and see what we need to do, what we can for our teammates. We’re a team that can knock out a reasonable performance five days ago and we end up tossing up that.”

In the end, the scoreline flattered the Rabbitohs on Friday night.

They stumbled to just 40 per cent of possession in the first half to go to the break down 18-0, and only scored two tries in the last 10 minutes through winger Alex Johnson to make it look respectable.

If anything though, that just made Maguire more frustrated as he refused to blame the short turnaround from last week’s Perth trip.

“The last five minutes or so we showed some good footy,” Maguire said.

“So it’s got nothing to do with what a lot of people keep asking me about with short turnarounds.

“Players play Origin and then turn around three days later and play. I think they’re poor excuses.

“I don’t wear that.”

The Rabbitohs were their own worst enemies on Friday night at ANZ Stadium.

They missed 25 tackles and made 12 errors, while fullback Cody Walker let bombs bounce three times and fumbled another ball in the in-goal to gift the Eels a try.

But despite their 14th position on the ladder, Maguire insists the Rabbitohs’ season isn’t yet over.

“The No.1 thing is probably hanging onto the ball. We’ve got to fix it. The team has got to fix it. Because we’ll end up in the exact same spot if we keep doing it. We need to make sure that we look after the ball and complete. It’s been in the game since it started.”

Gutherson presses case in Eels NRL team

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has an almighty selection headache coming up next month.

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What does he do with a talent like Clinton Gutherson?

Gutherson was back to his best on Friday night in the Eels’ 22-16 win over South Sydney, setting up two tries and breaking the line once in a dominant first half.

However his stint in the halves is almost certain to be limited, with star five-eighth Corey Norman set to return from a knee injury in round 17 to partner new recruit Mitchell Moses.

And Arthur on Friday remained coy on how he would fit one of his team’s most versatile players into a consistent starting spot in the backline.

“We’ll worry about that when Normy comes back,” he said.

“Gutho is a footballer. And we know exactly what we’re going to get from him every week. He’s such a competitor.”

The 22-year-old arrived at Parramatta as an outside back in 2016, but has been used in a number of positions by Arthur.

He began on the wing last year, but spent time in the centres before finishing the year at five-eighth.

He has also filled in at fullback this year for a five-game stint, while fullback Bevan French was also out with a knee injury.

“He’s a runner of the football,” Arthur said.

“He went back to fullback and was really good there. Then we moved him to five-eighth and it’s a different game.”

Arthur admitted Gutherson had been unhappy with his performance in last week’s loss to Canberra, but was far better on Friday night.

“He probably tried too much to play the role of a five-eighth instead of just playing his game – that’s probably a bit my fault.”

Meanwhile the Eels coach said it would take more time for the team to fully gel with Moses.

The former Wests Tigers playmaker had a hand in two of the Eels’ tries, while his kicking game bamboozled South Sydney’s Cody Walker at the back.

But Arthur said his connection with the team would only get better and reap more rewards once they became accustomed to his style.

“We had a bit of a mentality to work over a few defenders and play with the eyes up (on Friday night),” Arthur said.

“Mitch just responded to what the defence was doing and put himself in a position.

“You could see a lot of our boys weren’t used to it and were in front of him on a pass or a kick.”

Stop-start Pies must fire against Lions

Collingwood’s maddening inconsistency has been a constant source of frustration for Magpies fans this AFL season but that stops on Sunday.

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Quite simply, it has to.

Nathan Buckley’s men haven’t managed back-to-back wins this season as they’ve stumbled to a 3-6 record.

Last week’s stunning come-from-behind win over Hawthorn might have given the Pies’ season and Buckley’s coaching career a shot in the arm, but it won’t count for much if they slip up against last-placed Brisbane at the MCG.

“It’s vital for us because we’re so far behind the eight ball as it is,” Pies assistant coach Robert Harvey told AAP.

“We need to just keep chipping away and try to get some wins under our belt.

“We’ve got some games to catch up on that we’ve given away early in the season, so this is a really big game for us.

“We’ve just got to win and anything it takes to do that we will. We’ve got to start to claw back that win-loss ratio.

“We’ve obviously been really inconsistent this year so we need to see more consistency in our game both on offence and defence.

“But there’s enough good that you can see each week with us to think that we’re not far away.”

Former No.6 draft pick Matt Scharenberg will play his first game since round 23 of the 2015 season after overcoming a second knee reconstruction.

The 21-year-old was included in the line-up along with Tim Broomhead, with James Aish (concussion) and Henry Schade (omitted) departing the side that defeated the Hawks.

On the face of it an encounter with the last-placed Lions appears a timely opportunity for the stop-start Pies to build some confidence.

Chris Fagan’s side carry an eight-game losing streak into Sunday’s clash, but Harvey has been impressed with aspects of their game.

“Nearly every match they’ve played they’ve looked likely in patches,” Harvey said.

“When they get their running game going, even against Adelaide last week (in an 80-point loss), they looked dangerous early.

“So they’re going to have their moments but it’s a matter of us putting up a bit more of what we saw in the second half against Hawthorn for the whole game.”

Fagan made five changes bringing in Tom Cutler, Daniel McStay, Ryan Bastinac, Rhys Mathieson and Archie Smith.

Dugan’s best NRL in front of him: Flanagan

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan is adamant high-profile recruit Josh Dugan’s best form is ahead of him as the Sharks aim to build a dynasty around him when he arrives next NRL season.

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Speaking for the first time about the club’s smash-and-grab from rivals St George-Illawarra, Flanagan also insisted there was no guarantee over what position Dugan would play in 2018.

“I just said to Josh in our meetings that I’m not guaranteeing that he’s playing fullback. He might play fullback, but he might play centre,” Flanagan said.

“All I said to him was, ‘I want good players at my club and you definitely fit that category.

“‘You’re a Test player and just come to our club, you’ll enjoy it, play first grade, and hopefully play semi-finals in the next four years back-to-back. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

Dugan’s signing means the club could boast arguably the best roster in the competition next season, with six former or current Kangaroos representatives.

Flanagan recalled how he had long desired luring representative players to the Shire since taking over as head coach seven years ago.

“I want Australia and Origin players at our club. For us to recruit the current Test centre and Origin centre is fantastic and a great scoop for the club,” he said.

“We’re looking forward for him to come next year. Where he’ll play, we’ll see how it goes in the off-season but he’ll definitely be in our team and we’re going to be a better team for it.”

Flanagan also believes that, at 27 years of age, Dugan’s heading into the prime of his career.

“Josh Dugan at Canberra, Josh Dugan when he started at the Dragons, and Josh Dugan now at the Dragons, he’s a leader. He’s in their leadership group,” he said.

“He’s a completely changed man and I think his best footy’s in front of him as well.”