Immortality or rebirth?
I’m sure we are all sick of the speculation about whether Hawthorn are as good as the Brisbane Lions of 2001-2003 or Geelong of 2007-2011, but the fact remains that if the Hawks win this one they will go down in history as one of the greatest teams of the modern era.
Obviously West Coast will do everything they can to prevent the three-peat. In only his second season as senior coach, Adam Simpson has shaped the Eagles into an attacking weapon that nobody saw coming, especially impressive following the injuries to key defenders early in the year. If they win this one, we may be witnessing the birth of the next juggernaut.
Hawthorn leads 5-1 overall.
At this ground, Hawthorn hasn’t lost since 2006 but the teams have rarely met at the ‘G.
West Coast defeated Hawthorn 14.12 (96) to 9.10 (64) at Domain Stadium in the second qualifying final.
Even for a Hawks fan, there is only one way to describe that game: The Eagles flogged the Hawks, kicking 10 goals to 2 goals between quarter time and three quarter time before easing the pressure off in the final quarter. The final margin flattered Hawthorn.
West Coast – unchanged as expected.
Hawthorn – Billy Hartung was omitted to make way for the return of Jack Gunston. Billy was unlucky after playing 20 games for the Hawks this year.
For the Punters
The line on Thursday night, Hawks +9.5
First Goal Kicker – Josh Kennedy
Norm Smith – Luke Shuey or Sam Mitchell
Leading goal kicker – Josh Kennedy
Leading possession winner – Sam Mitchell, Matt Priddis
West Coast are the form side of the two teams (if not the league) and embarrassed the Hawks only three weeks ago. Many experts are claiming that the Eagles’ “web” relies heavily on the narrow dimensions of Domain Stadium and that the Hawks will be far tougher to stop on the wider MCG, but in the Qualifying final West Coast made the Hawks appear old and slow and won’t be any slower on a differently shaped ground. The fatigue from playing an extra week of finals and travelling to Western Australia twice in the last three weeks won’t make the Hawks any faster. The injury clouds over Hodge and Gunston add further doubts to the Hawks’ chances.
For the Eagles there remains only two questions.
The first: How will they respond to the occasion? So far they have performed well in both finals, but they were played before a parochial home crowd so the players might be unsettled by a subdued, impartial crowd (that is not booing).
The second: How good is Hawthorn really? The Hawks have been inconsistent for most of the year but why? Have the Hawthorn players become so focussed on playing Grand Finals that everything else is irrelevant or are they simply ageing? Memories of the Hawks dismantling the Swans in the 2014 Grand Final linger and fans and opponents alike wonder if the Hawks can rise to the occasion again and whether the Eagles can go with them if they do.
Thommo’s tip: West Coast by 10 points.
Thommo’s hope: Hawks by 53 points (any similarities to 1991 results are purely coincidental).
Thanks for reading everyone, have a good Supercoach preseason.
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