A NORTH Adelaide product, Ryan Burton was overlooked by Adelaide at the 2015 draft. Twice.

On Thursday night he was the game-changer.

The 20-year-old ignited Hawthorn to upset Adelaide by 14 points, with two stirring goals from beyond 50 metres late in the third term changing the momentum of the match.

At the very least, it would have had Crows' selectors doubting their decision some two years ago.

Adelaide opted to pick Wayne Milera (Pick 11) and Tom Doedee (Pick 17) with its first two picks, with Hawthorn snatching up Burton with Pick 19.

While Burton was initially touted as a potential No.1 draft pick, a broken leg saw him shift down the draft order.

It was a significant injury, but one which Hawthorn champion Shaun Burgoyne suggested had worked in the club's favour.

"We got a steal in him," Buroyne said on Fox Footy.

"We gave him the job on Tex Walker tonight and it shows the belief the coaching group have in him. He's really composed with the ball. He can kick it short, kick it long.

"He's got good evasive skills, he's got a really mature head on him and he's able to make those decisions that you's normally see 80-100 game players to make and he's a second-year player. We're rapt to have him."

Burton - who finished the game with 21 touches, five marks and five rebound 50s - said the belief in the playing group was strong.

"We don't think we're out of finals," Burton said on Channel Seven.

"We're only a couple of games out of the eight so our mindset's going to stay the same from now on."

The win confirmed the bizarre season that is 2017, where no result is beyond question.

Seventeenth-placed Carlton defeated GWS in round 12. And Hawthorn exacted the same fate on Adelaide on Thursday night.

 

Shaun Burgoyne of the Hawks is tackled by Rory Sloane of the Crows.
Shaun Burgoyne of the Hawks is tackled by Rory Sloane of the Crows. DAVID MARIUZ

It was a compelling performance from Alastair Clarkson's men - one premiership coach Paul Roos deemed Hawthorn's most convincing of the season.

"I haven't seen them play this good this year," Roos said on Fox Footy.

"This is the best they've played by an absolute mile. They were really good around the contest.

"You could just sense they got some confidence and had a spread of very good players. This is a game-changer for me with Hawthorn."

SLOANE'S ALMIGHTY PROBLEM

FOR the fifth time in seven weeks, Adelaide midfielder Rory Sloane couldn't find a way to break the tag.

Hawthorn youngster Daniel Howe limited the Brownlow fancy to just 23 touches - opening up the conversation of what could happen to the Crows if the same predicament were to arise come finals.

Roos suggested Sloane was the only person empowered to put an end to the debate.

"I think what Sloane needs to do - because teams duplicate other teams - Sloane needs to have a breakout game with a tag and then the whole situation changes," Roos said.

Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall echoed Roos' sentiments.

"It's a great opportunity for Rory Sloane to show us just how elite a midfielder he is because if he doesn't shake this and the ability to perform with a tag, he's going to cop it every week," Dunstall said.

 

Crows players walk off after losing their round 14 AFL match against Hawthorn.
Crows players walk off after losing their round 14 AFL match against Hawthorn. DAVID MARIUZ

"He's going to cop it in the finals because he's the prime mover for the Crows."

But triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown took a slightly different view, saying if Sloane stuck "to his guns" he'd reap the rewards.

"He needs to continually go for that two for one," Brown said.

"If he stays disciplined with that, goes after the opposition ... that means he has to have a free teammate somewhere. It may take two quarters, it may take three quarters, it might take two games.

"But eventually the opposition coach is going to go, 'you know what, that spare Adelaide midfielder is just hurting us too much'."

GREENWOOD, A STAR IN THE MAKING

WHEN Scott Pendlebury is singing your praises, you know you're on to a good thing.

The Collingwood skipper took to Twitter on Friday night, astonished by the performance of Adelaide youngster Hugh Greenwood.

It was some first quarter to behold. Nine disposals at 88 per cent efficiency, two clearances, two inside 50s and a goal - all in his fifth AFL game.

"Greenwood gunna be a seriously good player," Pendlebury said.

Like Pendlebury, Greenwood has a basketball background. He was selected as a rookie in 2015, eight years after Adelaide had first chased his signature.

Greenwood starred at college level in the US and even trained with the Utah Jazz, but took up the opportunity to come home and realise his AFL dream. So far it's paying off.

Each week Greenwood continues to grow, learning from his mistakes and adding more weapons to his arsenal.

In the first term against Hawthorn he dropped a mark but followed up his error, won the ball and wheeled around to convert a classy goal, earning the respect of North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey.

"That was a really good finish," Carey said on Channel Seven.

"The second effort is what you want from a young man. Make one mistake, don't make two."

News Corp Australia


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