Luke Hodge

AFL Trades, Delistings and Retirements
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 by Lisa Albergo reporting from AFANA from Chicago

On October 6, the two-week free agency/trade period began, as well as several clubs delisting players to make places available for newcomers. The biggest news ahead of this period was Gary Ablett requesting a trade back to Geelong despite a year left on his contract with the Suns. Others to request trades have been: Port's Jarman Impey designating Hawthorn his preferred choice, Giants Nathan Wilson and Devon Smith, Adelaide's Jake Lever and Charlie Cameron. The Bulldogs were also seeking to trade Jake Stringer, whose inconsistent form has seen fall out of favor. Melbourne was also seeking to trade Jack Watts, who was bitterly disappointed at not being able to remain with the club.

Two Veterans Call Time
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The AFANA AFL 2016 Finals Preview
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

So, who wins it all? In what looks to be the most open finals series for some time, you could mount a solid argument for six teams that could potentially take out the 2016 premiership. Read on for my take on who can win the Aussie rules championship in 2016 and why – and my pick for the two teams that will meet in the biggest AFL match of the year on October 1st.

I’ll start in reverse order of regular season finish, from eighth to top spot.

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.

Hawks Run Over Dockers and Head for Grand Final
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Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth

Hawthorn has been Fremantle’s bogeyman ever since the 2013 Grand Final and the Dockers' disappointing defeat. If there were a team that Fremantle would rather face in the Preliminary Final it would be anyone other than the Hawks. Fremantle may have had the week off courtesy of a good win over Sydney but the Hawks, having beaten the Dockers in their last encounter at Domain and in the dynamic form they showed in last week's demolition of Adelaide, had nothing to fear in coming back West to play them in the Peliminary Final. As it turned out Hawthorn dominated Fremantle to have them sliding out of the Finals and racing gently into that good night called the off season.

Hawks Run Riot over Crows and Advance to Preliminary Final
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick Reporting for AFANA from Australia

Hawthorn's Luke Hodge Hodge gets trapped by Thompson of the Crows. Photo by Kiim Densham for AFANA.A fearless Hawthorn completely dominated the Adelaide Crows in front of over 70,000 fans at the MCG on Friday night. With their potential “three-peat“ under threat after an indifferent performance against the West Coast Eagles just a week earlier, the Hawks showed no mercy as they piled on eight first-quarter goals.

Adelaide, despite coming into the game in season-best form, had no answers for the Hawks' brilliant ball use and pinpoint accuracy.

Eagles Stun Hawks and Advance to Preliminary Final
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Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth

Hawthorn succumbed to the fierce pressure of the West Coast Eagles in the Second Qualifying final at Domain Stadium. Normally the composed Hawks show silky smooth skills and rarely panic with the ball. All their usual composure went out the window as this game unfolded and the Eagles took the Hawks apart.Callum Sinclair and Nic Naitanui celebrate a win over the Hawks. Photo by David Woodley for AFANA.

It started as a battle of the defenses with both sides up against tough opposition as they tried to advance the ball. Hawthorn was kicking with the aid of a monster wind in the first quarter but could only manage two goals.

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.

Giants Come of Age in Upset
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

Reigning champion Hawthorn traveled north to take on the up-and-coming Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium in Round 6, with all but the staunchest of Giants' fans expecting a Hawthorn victory. Despite losing team leaders Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis to suspension, the highly skilled Hawks were expected to comfortably account for a Giants team that had been smashed by the West Coast Eagles just a week earlier.

Hawk Warriors Too Tough Too Good
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Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Australia

For just under 100,000 fans packed into the MCG and millions of TV viewers in Australia and around the world, the anticipation and tension in the lead-up to the 2014 Grand Final was mouth-watering. Experts had the Swans as outright favorites for the Premiership Cup, bolstered with an unchanged team and by expensive recruits and big men Kurt Tippett and Lance “Buddy” Franklin. Teamed up with athletic giants Adam Goodes and Ben Reid, the Sydney forward line loomed large and many thought unstoppable. The added drama of a Grand Final clash between ex-Hawk Buddy and his old teammates - with whom he won a Premiership only 12 months ago - laid the ingredients on the table for an outstanding contest. Most predicted a win by the Swans and only a few could mount an argument for the Hawks by the very smallest of margins, such was the perceived might of the Swans after their demolition of North Melbourne in the Preliminary Final.

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