Jack Gunston

Hungry Hawks Demolish Dockers
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The Hawthorn Hawks showed they still have the appetite to participate in this year’s finals by dominating the Fremantle Dockers in the final quarter at the Dockers’ home ground. Fremantle competed solidly but could not overcome the Hawk dominance in the air as the big Hawks out-marked the home side.

Hawthorn started each center bounce by positioning two extra players on the defensive side of the center square.

Hawks Create History with Third Consecutive Premiership
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Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Australia

Captain Hodge and defender Josh Gibson share the love with the fans after defeating West Coast eagles in the AFL Grand Final. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA.While it was the hottest Grand Final in history with the mercury hitting 31.3 degrees Celsius (88.3 Fahrenheit), the much anticipated “close contest” between Hawthorn and the West Coast did not bring the heat many anticipated and - in the case of West Coast supporters - hoped for. In the end, this Grand Final was not a replay of “David and Goliath”. The Hawks entered the match favorites and they won nearly everything - the coin toss, all the important game statistics, the Premiership Cup, the Norm Smith Medal and the full-blown respect of the Australian football public. The Hawks' players were never challenged in a master class performance of Aussie Rules football. Alastair Clarkson and his coaching staff cemented a well-earned place in history as the Hawks won the “three-peat”, back to back Premierships in 2013 (defeating Fremantle), 2014 (dominating over Sydney) and now in 2015. No doubt West Coast fans are wondering what happened and how their break out season ended so lamely.

Tigers Stun Hawks With Intent
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

Just days after one of Australia’s largest online betting sites paid out on Hawthorn winning the 2015 Premiership - more than two months before the Grand Final is to be played - the raging favorites have been upset by Richmond in front of a massive MCG crowd. Shaun Burgoyne of the Hawthorn Hawks handballs as Trent Cotchin of the Richmond Tigers approaches in a round 18 AFL match.Over 66,000 fans were treated to an intense contest that saw the Tigers put Round 17’s last gasp loss to first placed Fremantle behind them with a stirring win over the reigning Premiers in Hawthorn.

Peers Vote Docker Fyfe Best
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe has won the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Players' Association MVP. The award is decided with players from all clubs nominating three teammates. Each club then tallies the votes for their players. Out of that, the field is narrowed to 54 players. Players then award votes on a 3-2-1 basis for the 54 nominees. Fyfe just edged out Gary Ablett in one of the closest counts in the history of the award.

No Fear Hawks
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Janet Linn, reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Australia

A traditional rivalry began the 2014 Finals series with Hawthorn and Geelong meeting in the First Qualifying Final at the MCG. This was a match up that promised everything and, in front of almost 75,000 excited fans, it delivered on that promise early with a torrid opening quarter of hard physical contests, wayward kicks, nervous fumbles and both teams taking the game on at full throttle.

Hawks Stake Premiership Claims
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

Promoted as a match that was a most likely Grand Final preview, the Sydney Swans versus Hawthorn contest at the MCG in Round 18 lived up to expectations. A big crowd of 72,000 saw a pulsating game of Aussie Rules Football, with both teams showing they have what it takes to lift the Premiership Cup in September.

Lance “Buddy” Franklin - the ex-Hawthorn gun who went north to Sydney on a reported nine year ten million dollar deal - was being reminded of his defection as many of the Hawk supporters let out a mighty “boo” every time he touched the football. In the first quarter, there was a lot of booing as Franklin started the game in fine form, setting up two goals and marking with authority. At the opposite end of the MCG, 200-gamer Jarryd Roughead was providing a strong target for the Hawks. Roughead had the first goal on the board within a minute of the opening siren, before Franklin replied after a couple of misses. Hawthorn had more scoring chances in an uncompromising first quarter. However their accuracy deserted them as they took a four point lead into quarter time that could have been greater given the balance of play.

Hawks Reigning Champions
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by Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Australia

Grand Finals come but once a season and the week that precedes them is a bonanza for supporters and commentators alike all around Australia. With the Fremantle Dockers making their first Grand Final appearance in their 19 year history, Western Australia - and particularly the City of Fremantle - was in a state of magnificent anticipation. The streets of "Freo" were lined with purple and thousands of Dockers’ fans made the trek across the Nullabor Desert for the game. There were not enough seats on planes so coaches, buses and cars full of purple clad supporters headed east. It was reported that some supporters even took flights via Adelaide and then hired cars to drive to the Melbourne Cricket Ground while some stalwarts were said to have flown to Melbourne via Asia. Such was the euphoria on the Dockers’ side that many pundits were even tipping a Fremantle Premiership. The Hawthorn club went about its business somewhat quietly during the week, allowing the swirl of excitement and sea of purple surrounding the Dockers to dominate the media but not their team psyche, as they prepared to avenge the disappointment of their 2012 defeat.

Hawks Head to Grand Final After Thriller
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Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from the Melbourne Cricket Ground

All week Australian Rules Football fans were agog with the excitement of two stunning Preliminary Finals. The first promised a nail-biting encounter between two teams that have shared an astonishing rivalry since Hawthorn upset Geelong - the overwhelming favorites - in the 2008 Grand Final. In the eleven games since taking that Premiership, Hawthorn has not beaten Geelong again. With a week off after winning the Qualifying Final against Sydney, the Hawks had their best chance yet to take the Cats and advance to the Grand Final.

Round 20 Milestones
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Round 20 milestones include:

250 games: Gary Ablett (GC)
200 games: Ted Richards (SYD), Brent Stanton (ESS)
150 games: Bryce Gibbs (CARL), Daniel Merrett (BRIS)
100 games: Dennis Armfield (CARL), Chris Mayne (FRE), Tyson Goldsack (COL)
50 games: Phil Davis (GWS), Jack Gunston (HAW)
50 club games: Danny Stanley (GC)

Hot Hawks Team to Beat
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

A bumper crowd of over 85,000 flooded into the MCG for the Friday night Qualifying Final between Premiership favorite Hawthorn and last season’s runner up, Collingwood. The Hawks were dealt a blow with the late withdrawal of prime mover Jordan Lewis who suffered a hamstring “twinge” at training on the eve of the big game. Shane Savage came into the Hawthorn side at the expense of Lewis while Collingwood added Ben Sinclair for the omitted Jackson Paine. A heavy rain shower just prior to the commencement of proceedings

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