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Hawks in pole position

Date

Jake Niall

Hawthorn's Jordan Lewis is tackled by Nic Naitanui.

Hawthorn's Jordan Lewis is tackled by Nic Naitanui. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

HAWTHORN 7.1 10.6 11.10 14.11 (95) WEST COAST 1.3 4.4 5.7 10.10 (70)
GOALS Hawthorn: Franklin 4, Gunston 3, Rioli, Hale, Smith, Breust, Hodge, Puopolo, Burgoyne. West Coast: Darling 3, McGinnity 2, Schofield 2, Gaff, Waters, Hill.
BEST Hawthorn: Mitchell, Roughead, Sewell, Franklin, Suckling. West Coast: S Selwood, Darling, Masten, Hill, Schofield.
INJURIES Hawthorn: Guerra (hamstring), Whitecross (corked thigh), Gunston (ankle). West Coast: Kennedy (ankle).
UMPIRES Stevic, Nicholls, McInerney.
CROWD 50,023, at MCG.

FOR the Hawks, their final home-and-away game of 2012 delivered what they wanted: the minor premiership and a game in Melbourne, rather than Adelaide or Sydney, in the first week of the finals.

That first September outing is unlikely to be a genuine ''home'' final, assuming Collingwood is competent enough to best Essendon tonight. If the Pies cannot, then we will see a repeat of last night's pre-finals final, in which West Coast made a charge that was beyond belated - it came hard, from more than seven goals behind, following a run of four goals, to close to 19 points.

Do the limbo. Hawthorn's Luke Hodge battles with Eagle Sam Butler.

Do the limbo. Hawthorn's Luke Hodge battles with Eagle Sam Butler. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

As it happened: For live blog: click here.

The Eagles were coming from far back, too late, however. Their run-on was assisted by what was the greatest downside of the match for the Hawks, a bad hamstring to defender Brent Guerra.

A goal to Luke Breust 17 minutes into the final quarter quelled any anxiety among the brown and golds, whose 25-point margin wasn't a reflection of a match that contained precious little suspense. The Hawks more or less killed the excitement in the first quarter, with seven goals to one, including four to Lance Franklin, who seemed a chance to boot 10 and perhaps reclaim the Coleman Medal that his hamstring had stolen. But Buddy did little thereafter. The Eagles gained some ground, without really threatening until that final quarter flurry, when Guerra left the field and the Hawks tired, their unlikely sub, Cyril Rioli, having entered the game late in the third quarter.

Lance Franklin marks. Click for more photos

AFL Round 23 : Hawthorn v West Coast Eagles

Hawthorn has finished the season defeating West Coast Eagles by 25 points and giving them the minor premiership for the first time in 23 years. Final score 14.11 (95) to 10.10 (70). Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

So there was a phoney Eagles comeback at the death and an impressive Hawks blitz at the start, in which their extraordinary kicking skills diced an admittedly sluggish West Coast defence and midfield. The middle period of the match was one of stasis, as the scores bobbed between five and six goals.

In the third term, there was only one goal to each team, the Hawks not producing any until Jack Gunston nailed his third from outside 50 metres.

The Hawks were propelled, as ever, by Sam Mitchell and his midfield accomplice, Brad Sewell, and by the underrated brilliance of forward/ruck Jarryd Roughead.

They narrowly beat the Eagles for contested balls and inside 50s. Unsurprisingly, it was their ball usage and greater potency in attack, where Gunston and Franklin shared seven goals, that proved decisive; even at quarter-time, they had been in their attacking 50-metre arc only twice more than the Eagles.

Franklin's electric first quarter was significant to the outcome, albeit he was finishing the well-crafted work of others rather than conjuring goals from half chances. Buddy booted the game's opening two goals - the first one of those patented ''out-the-back'' goals in which Franklin is pitted one-out in a sprint to the goal line, chasing a bouncing ball - a race that no defender wants.

The return was spectacular, but the goals themselves weren't; three of those four majors were the result of superb kicking from teammates - Brendan Whitecross finding Franklin on a long ball, while Mitchell, a brilliant user of the ball, twice nailed him on the lead for goals. Even the first goal was created by a very effective 55 metres kick into space by Hawthorn's super boot Matt Suckling.

The Eagles afforded the Hawks far too much space in both the midfield and even in the flag favourite's front half. It is difficult to defeat Hawthorn even from five goals ahead early in the match. To spot the Hawks almost six goals in the opening quarter is like trailing the Jamaican 4 x 100 metres relay team before the baton is handed to Usain Bolt. They aren't easily caught.

The Eagles, though, have demonstrated a willingness to scrap out games and they mounted a mini-surge - not quite a comeback - in the second quarter, as a pair of goals to the exceptionally gifted Jack Darling and another to Will Schofield closed the margin to four goals. The Eagles pressed and, for a fleeting moment, there was the possibility of a serious contest.

But Sewell, whose relentless productivity has been concealed by Mitchell's brilliance in the same midfield, created a goal with a deft grubber kick along the boundary, setting off a classic Hawthorn chain of possessions that ended with the accurate boot of Shaun Burgoyne.

Then Buddy tapped brilliantly to Gunston, surely one of the best converters in the game. Gunston's snap pushed the margin back beyond six goals, which it would remain at half-time.

The Eagles hadn't been awful to this point; they had not been efficient, though - their forwards, Darling and Josh Hill aside, were quiet - and they were not clean enough in the stoppages. Scott Selwood was clearly their most prolific and effective player. Their evening was best reflected in the two halves of Matt Priddis, normally their main distributor. None of his six clearances were in the formative, first half. Eagles ruckmen Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui won plenty of hitouts but had little influence around the ground.

The Eagles, thus, have likely landed in Perth, in a cut-throat final, rather than back here against the Hawks, who, regardless of who they encounter, are unlikely to be beaten by any team that spots them six goals.

BRING HIM ON

Cyril Rioli coming back from injury was the luxury choice as substitute. As the crowd chanted ''Cyril'' in the third quarter, urging the coaches to bring the electrifying forward on, l Alastair Clarkson held his nerve. With less than three minutes to go in the third term Rioli finally came on. He was on the end of a chain of play to goal in the opening minutes of the last quarter.

FREE WAY

The Hawks were the dominant side but not in the free-kick count. At half-time, the Hawks led by 38 points but had drawn just four free kicks, including only one for the second quarter. The Eagles had nine. Typically the dominant side draws more free kicks. At the end, the Eagles had 19 frees to Hawthorn's 13.

NO MONKEY BUSINESS

When Lance Franklin gathered the ball beyond the wing in the last quarter and turned to see grass between him and the goal it seemed he was about to open up another high reel. Jacob Brennan, son of Eagles premiership player Michael Brennan, was on Franklin and chased him down the wing and harassed the error even as Franklin handed off to Rioli and got the ball back. The young Eagle, one out against two of the best players in the league, had not been beaten. - MICHAEL GLEESON

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AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
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Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
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Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all
 

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