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Hawks, with lots in reserve

Hawthorn's Luke Hodge is tackled by Lewis Jetta.

Hawthorn's Luke Hodge is tackled by Lewis Jetta. Photo: Pat Scala

HAWTHORN 3.4 4.7 9.9 15.15 (105) SYDNEY 3.3 4.7 5.8 7.9 (51)
GOALS Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Hale 2, Roughead 2, Hill, Lake, Anderson, Breust, Shiels, Bailey, Spangher, Puopolo. Sydney: Tippett 2, Rohan, White, Jetta, Pyke, O'Keefe.
BEST Hawthorn: Hodge, Mitchell, Burgoyne, Lake, Sewell, Bruest, Birchall. Sydney: Kennedy, Jack, Bird, Richards, Rampe, Parker.
INJURIES Hawthorn: Rioli (ankle, replacedShiels).
UMPIRES Shane Stewart, Brett Rosebury, Dean Margetts.
CROWD: 59,615 at MCG

This was Vulnerable Hawthorn. No Franklin, no Rioli, and the big-ticket summer buy Kurt Tippett stalking the forward line of the team that no one needed reminding had beaten them in the last final they played. Vulnerable Hawthorn is a very impressive Hawthorn.

The top side, without two top players, is still a 54-point better side than last year's premier.

Sydney's Shane Mumford chases Hawthorn's Brad Sewell Click for more photos

AFL Qualifying Final: Hawthorn v Sydney

Hawthorn was too strong for Sydney, winning the first qualifying final by 54 points at the MCG . Age photographers Pat Scala and Sebastian Costanzo covered all the action from the match. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Time
FT
Team
HFC
Score
15.15.105
Team
SYFC
Score
7.9.51
Hawthorn versus Sydney
View Match Statistics
Players Gunston (3.1), Roughead (2.2), Hale (2.0), Breust (1.2), Anderson (1.1), Hill (1.1), Shiels (1.1), Bailey (1.0), Lake (1.0), Puopolo (1.0), Spangher (1.0), Birchall (0.1), Hodge (0.1) Scorers Tippett (2.0), Pyke (1.1), White (1.1), Jetta (1.0), O'Keefe (1.0), Rohan (1.0), Hannebery (0.2), Kennedy (0.2), Mitchell (0.1), Parker (0.1)

For a half, Hawthorn absorbed Sydney's blows, matched the Swans for will, and blunted the sharp end of what shaped as a threatening attack. Then, having kicked four goals for the first half, they kicked four goals in 12 minutes and ended this match as a contest.

The last quarter became the period that killed not only the idea of Sydney winning this match, but the idea that it could win a second flag in a row.

The reason was not who was missing, but who was there. More pertinently it was because Luke Hodge was comically good across half-back. No other player in the game has an opponent and yet manages to also be the loose man like Hodge.

Nominally Jesse White was the player to attempt to demand Hodge's attention. He offered him the sort of attention a parent does while reading the paper as their kids play on monkey bars, aware of the potential for danger but not in any urgent way.

Every one of Hodge's kicks for three quarters met its destination. His chip kicks, his raking kicks - on his right foot - met their target.

Even when wrapped in a tackle he eased the ball to drop on his foot and bounce up to a teammate. His first, and only ''ineffective'' kick, was deliberately booted to space on the wing whereupon a teammate ran on and won the ball. Even ''ineffective'' Hodge is effective. (We will ignore the lazy swing at a ball in the goal square that he swiped and missed as being a Keith Miller moment where the level of difficulty was too low to be deserving of his talents.)

Hawthorn counter-punched through Hodge and Sam Mitchell across half-back when Sydney had adopted a surge mentality from the first bounce to thrust the ball forward to the three tall forwards as quickly and regularly as possible.

It was a game that was always denied its electricity without Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli but one that was more primal for its energy.

Sydney looked threatening in the first quarter, less menacing in the second and impotent in the last two. The Hawks prised open the Swans' defence with quick ball movement and once open there was no returning the genie to the bottle.

Hawthorn almost took more uncontested marks in the third quarter of the qualifying final than they did in the entirety of last year's grand final - a true reflection of the difference in ground-wide intensity and pressure from the Swans. This Sydney outfit was able to maintain that pressure for a half only.

While the Swans had brought in Tippett as the damaging new forward, Hawthorn had likewise introduced the understated Brian Lake to its back line to stand just this sort of player. Lake won the battle.

Without Franklin, when Hawthorn went forward its options early were less persuasive than normal. Of course, there was the Coleman medallist Jarryd Roughead and the unerringly accurate Jack Gunston, but for a time they could not find them, Ted Richards doing well to quell Roughead early. Matt Spangher was the player there because Franklin was not. He has played 36 games, none of them overly convincing that he could fill the Franklin breach in a final and yet he performed admirably. He kicked a goal in the first quarter, he found the right spot to be to create a contest and drew the defenders wide to open the space for others.

DIP IN LAKE

Kurt Tippett seemed to figure full-back Brian Lake was putting on only nominal pressure when, in a slow play, he decided to run end to end to the Hawks forward line to create a marking option. Tippett followed him up the ground but was left flat-footed when Lake ran past him to a pass and marked the ball on the 50-metre line. He took his shot from 50 and lobbed it over the goal line.

JUMPING JETTA

Those who came to the MCG hoping to see another match race between Cyril Rioli and Lewis Jetta would have been desperately disappointed. Rioli was a late withdrawal, as many expected, and Jetta wore the red vest for much of the night. Jetta, however, did have an instant impact when he went on, scoring a goal within seconds.

ROUGH CHANCES

Hawthorn gave its forwards plenty of opportunities inside the forward 50, grabbing 20 marks to eight in that zone. Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston recorded an equal game-high four apiece, while Mike Pyke was the only Sydney player to grab more than one (three).

INJURED SWANS SORELY MISSED

The Swans just didn't have enough contributors on the night, with eight players failing to reach double figure disposals. Every Hawks player reached or exceeded that mark with the exception of the two players that were involved in subs.

26 comments

  • The Hawks put a Spangher in the works and now just needs to tame some feline opponents. Looking a much better outfit this year.

    Commenter
    Captain
    Date and time
    September 07, 2013, 7:33AM
    • Hawthorn certainly deserve to be premiers based on their efforts so far. They looked scary second half last night. Just hope if we meet in the final it's not less than a two goal difference at the end. Don't think my heart could stand it. Go cats.

      p.s. again, you did better without Buddy.

      Commenter
      bornagirl
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 8:00AM
    • Does Richmond come through the Hawks in the prelim finals? Can only see the Hawks losing to the Cats, tigers or Pies.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 9:01AM
    • @Dave: checkout ladder predictor on the AFL site. Great fun when you should be doing something more important but need a reason to procrastinate.

      That's how I know the only upside of Geelong losing today would at least mean we can't meet them in the GF.

      Commenter
      bornagirl
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 9:19AM
    • Thanks Hawthorn.

      Now we (Carlton) have to play in Sydney next week.

      Commenter
      Simon
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 10:22AM
    • Don'w worry Simon, we bruised them good. If you get past the Tigers tomorrow, Sydney will be icecream in comparison.

      Commenter
      Mabiin
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 11:20AM
    • Cheers Mabiin. If we don't go all the way then I hope the Hawks win it.

      Commenter
      Simon
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 11:32AM
    • Richmond should do well against Sydney next week in Sydney.

      Commenter
      Pieman
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 12:26PM
    • Pieman - I'm not sure why the Richmond FC will be in Sydney next weekend. Perhaps to see the silly little bridge after their season is over?

      Commenter
      Simon
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 07, 2013, 1:06PM
  • Just goes to show the Swans did not win last years Grand Final. Hawthorn just didnt show up. As much as i hate Hawthorn it is hard to see them losing the GF again unless Geelong get in their way/

    Commenter
    JordanS88
    Date and time
    September 07, 2013, 9:04AM

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