Hawthorn overcame a sluggish start to stamp their claim for a "threepeat" (three consecutive AFL premierships) when they came from behind to take down a determined West Coast Eagles. West Coast went into the game without in-form ruckman Nic Naitanui who had flown to Fiji after his mother’s death.
In the second quarter (and with the wind at their backs) Hawthorn ramped up their attack and scored three goals in a row to put the Eagles on the back foot defending. Shaun Burgoyne (nicknamed “Silk”) showed his class when he moved through the Eagles’ defense like a phantom to kick one of those goals. In addition the Hawks improved their kicking efficiency and made the most of the hurricane like winds that were blowing to their end. The Eagles took a narrow six point lead into the second half and were looking forward to their turn with the wind.
Jamie Cripps opened with a goal from a fast transition through the middle, followed by a six pointer Mark Hutchings to give the Eagles some reward from their great defensive play. The Hawks fought back with three goals of their own and it became an arm wrestle through the rest of the third quarter. West Coast didn’t make good use of the wind and missed some easy goals to see their lead narrowed and the Hawks on their tail.
In the final term, Hawthorn got a break with a howler of a mistake by the boundary umpire when an obvious out of bounds was not called out, resulting in a goal to Liam Shiels. The Hawks hit the front for the first time and never looked back. Cyril Rioli rose over the pack to take a mark and convert and Hawthorn could sense victory. They kicked on and ran over the Eagles in the end with the last three goals of the game.
It took the very best from the Hawks to win the match. They were challenged and rose to the occasion like a great team does. West Coast players now know the level of effort and skill required to win over the Hawks in the Finals. Next week they face Fremantle in a Top Two clash. For the first time the Western Derby has teams in the top and second positions. Hawthorn has a good run home but the way the Hawks have been playing (with one bleep against Richmond) it wouldn’t matter who they came up against – they are the real deal for the Flag in 2015.
Scoreboard West Coast: 5.3 6.5 9.6 11.8 (74) Hawthorn: 2.3 5.5 8.8 13.10 (88) Best Players West Coast: Gaff, Kennedy, Shuey, Priddis Hawthorn: Mitchell, Breust, Birchall, Shiels
Article last changed on Monday, August 10, 2015 - 9:59 PM EDT