It wasn’t quite the after-the-final-siren match winner that most kids dream about, but Matt Suckling’s goal after the three-quarter time bell was a critical factor in Hawthorn’s 27-point AFL preliminary final win.
After the surging Hawks established a 28-point lead early in the third term, Fremantle snatched back the momentum with a three-goal burst that had them on the brink of an 11-point three-quarter time lead.
But with the parochial Domain Stadium crowd in full voice, Nat Fyfe gave away a free kick that set Suckling up with a set shot from 55m out as the siren sounded.
And where several Dockers had failed the test of preliminary final pressure in front of goal, Suckling passed with flying colours as his long-range shot squeezed inside the right hand goal post.
“I wouldn’t mind a few more shots like that,” a jubilant Suckling said.
“(My process) was pretty boring and routine but I knew I could make the journey.
“I knew it was close to three-quarter time when I got the free kick. I just took a few deep breaths and went back and kicked it.
“You grow up all your life out in the front yard and you always dream about kicking goals after the siren, so I sort of felt like I was ready.”
It was one of a few key moments that separated the battle-hardened Hawks from a Fremantle side that should have made better use of a week’s rest and home ground advantage against a team that was visiting Perth for the second time in a fortnight.
Morale-sapping regulation shots missed by Chris Mayne and Jon Griffin were exacerbated by pieces of brilliance like Suckling’s long goal and Cyril Rioli’s two pivotal last-quarter goals.
Suckling played a part in the second of Rioli’s majors, with a desperate spoil that he felt would probably earn him more plaudits from Alastair Clarkson than his long bomb.
But the coach admitted he was pretty pleased with Suckling’s after-the-siren effort.
“I had a chat to him and said thanks for kicking the goal,” Clarkson said after the match.
“They knew the significance of it. All the players bandied around coming into the huddle.”