Brook Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia
Hawthorn will meet Collingwood in a Preliminary Final after comfortably defeating Sydney by 36 points at the MCG on Friday night. The Hawks dominated the contest early and at one stage in the third quarter held a 46 point lead before the Swans fought back. In Adam Goodes’ 300th game the Sydneysiders worked their way back to trail by just 18 points late in the third quarter. However Hawthorn showed poise under pressure to wrest back the initiative and cruise home with a six goal victory.
All the talk leading up to the game surrounded Hawthorn star forward Buddy Franklin and whether he would play after jarring his knee against Geelong in the Qualifying Final. Not only did Buddy play, he appeared unhindered by the injury and ran out the game strongly with three final quarter goals. Sydney had injury concerns of its own, with up and coming midfielder Daniel Hannebery being pronounced fit to play after injuring his shoulder in the Swans' surprise win over St Kilda. Unfortunately for Sydney, Hannebery dislocated his shoulder again and was subbed off in the third quarter.
In the first quarter the Hawks jumped the Swans and completely dominated play. Max Bailey kicked the first goal after a Ben Reid miss for the Swans, and from then on the Hawks continually forged forward with little resistance from the out-of-sorts Sydney defense. Hawthorn’s poor finishing was the only thing keeping the Swans in the game. The wayward Hawks had kicked five points and only one goal before Michael Osborne managed a second goal after a Swans defensive mix-up. The star for Hawthorn was Isaac Smith who racked up 11 first quarter possessions after a ten touch first quarter last week against Geelong. After a Paul Puopolo goal, the Hawks went into the quarter time break with a 22 point lead and a whopping 43 more possessions than the hapless Swans.
It was much of the same as the second quarter got underway. Despite dominating the inside 50 entries, Hawthorn did not hit the scoreboard until Puopolo goaled again in the sixth minute. The Swans fought back with a goal to Shane Mumford, but classy Hawk midfielder Shaun Burgoyne replied to restore the comfortable buffer. After an uncharacteristically slow start, Adam Goodes imposed himself on the contest with a couple of second quarter goals but the Swans could not stop the Hawks from scoring. Puopolo kicked his third goal followed by some good work by Cyril Rioli. The icing on the cake was a sensational Luke Hodge goal from the boundary to extend the Hawks lead to a massive 40 points at the half time break.
When a Chance Bateman goal early in the third quarter extended the Hawks lead to 46 points, the game looked over as a contest. Hannebery was replaced by substitute Luke Parker who immediately had an influence on the Swans’ flagging fortunes. Goals to Matt Spangher and the retiring Tadgh Kennelly made the scoreboard look a little less lopsided before livewire Gary Rohan announced himself with a great mark and goal. X factor Josh Kennedy was seemingly everywhere for the Swans, and when the red-headed Rohan passed to Ryan O’Keefe for another goal, an amazing 20 minutes of play had completely turned the game on its head as the Swans trailed by just 18 points.
After dominating all but 20 minutes of the game, Hawks’ fans could be forgiven for being nervous at the change with a three goal lead but under the pump from a rejuvenated Swans outfit. They would have breathed a collective sigh of relief when Liam Shiels kicked the first goal of the final quarter to regain the momentum. 300-gamer Goodes replied for the Swans to keep the contest alive before Franklin put his stamp on the game with two close range goals to get the Hawks home. Franklin added another to extend the Hawthorn lead to a comfortable 36 points as the siren sounded. The final margin was a fair reflection of Hawthorn’s control of the game barring the 20 minute blitz from the Swans in the third quarter.
Josh Gibson controlled the Hawthorn defense brilliantly with 21 spoils (an AFL record) while the unheralded Hawthron ruck division broke even with the highly rated Mumford. For Sydney, it was a tough end for the retiring Kennelly and a bitter end to game 300 for Goodes. It was also the 12th loss in 14 contests at the MCG for the Swans, a trend coach John Longmire will be keen to reverse in 2012 and beyond.
The Hawks will face Premiership favorites Collingwood in the first Preliminary Final in what should be a ripping contest to decide who plays in the Grand Final against the winner of the Geelong versus West Coast battle.
Scoreboard Hawthorn 3.5 10.5 12.6 19.8 (122) Sydney 0.1 4.1 9.6 13.8 (86) Best players Hawthorn: Gibson, Hodge, Mitchell, Smith, Burgoyne, Hale, Franklin, Puopolo Sydney: Kennedy, Mumford, Goodes, McVeigh, Shaw
Article last changed on Monday, September 19, 2011 - 6:54 AM EDT