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    Hawks in pole position

    Date

    Jake Niall

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    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 2015

    Round 1
    Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
    CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
    SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
    BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
    WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
    ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
    FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
    Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
    GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
    COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
    GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
    PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
    ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
    NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 3
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
    ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
    SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
    NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
    BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
    GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
    WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 4
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
    ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
    GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
    PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
    FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
    GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
    WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 5
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
    SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
    GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
    NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
    WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
    STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
    ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 6
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
    WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
    GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
    GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
    MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
    FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
    PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 7
    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
    HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
    CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
    SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
    WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
    Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
    WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
    RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
    BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 8
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
    GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
    GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
    HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
    FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
    MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
    PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 9
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
    MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
    WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
    RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
    ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    BRI vs STK 13:10G
    COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
    WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 10
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
    GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
    ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
    PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
    NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
    STK vs HAW 16:40ES
    Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
    View All Fixtures
    Round 11
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
    WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
    NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
    STK vs MEL 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 12
    Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
    GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
    WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
    Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
    View All Fixtures
    Round 13
    Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
    BRI vs ADE 16:35G
    STK vs WBU 19:20ES
    Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 14
    Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
    Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
    COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
    GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
    WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
    MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
    Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs STK 13:10ES
    ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 15
    Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
    Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
    WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
    NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
    WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
    HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
    BRI vs SYD 16:40G
    View All Fixtures
    Round 16
    Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
    Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
    GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
    COL vs WCE 16:35ES
    SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
    FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
    PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    STK vs RIC 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 17
    Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
    CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
    Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
    ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
    RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
    ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
    BRI vs NTH 19:20G
    Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
    WBU vs COL 13:10ES
    MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
    WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 18
    Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
    Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
    COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
    SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
    CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
    GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
    Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
    ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
    FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 19
    Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
    WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
    BRI vs GCF 16:35G
    GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
    WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
    GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
    STK vs FRE 16:40ES
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
    Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
    ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
    NTH vs STK 14:10BA
    PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
    GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
    BRI vs CAR 19:20G
    Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
    WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
    FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 21
    Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
    Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
    GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
    STK vs GEE 19:20ES
    ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
    Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
    CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
    WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 22
    Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
    Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
    HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
    NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
    ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
    GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
    Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
    STK vs SYD 15:20ES
    FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    Round 23
    Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
    COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
    RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
    HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
    GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
    SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
    MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
    BRI vs WBU 00:00G
    PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
    WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
    View All Fixtures
    AFL 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D % Pts
    Fremantle 8 8 0 0 155.29 32
    West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
    Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
    GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
    Collingwood 8 5 3 0 129.90 20
    Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
    Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
    Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
    View all
     
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