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.
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. One of those was aided by a 50 meter penalty and the other came from a free kick, so it was clear that West Coast was doing a good job of stopping a Hawks goal-fest with the breeze. One area in which the Hawks were dominant was clearing the ball out of the center. Matt Priddis was a late withdrawal through injury and although Nic Naitanui was winning the ruck knocks, the Hawthorn midfield players were winning the ball back straight away mainly through the efforts of Sam Mitchell who was racking up a ton of possessions.
West Coast forward Josh Kennedy was inspirational in the second quarter, kicking three goals to put some scoreboard pressure on the Hawks. The Hawks were starved of chances to use their short accurate kicking to move the ball as the Eagles gave them no time or space to settle into their routine. By the half time break West Coast had opened up a commanding five goal lead on Hawthorn who were held goalless in the quarter.
After half time Hawthorn had some golden opportunities to get back into the game but they were inaccurate with their kicking on goal. They did score the first goal of the third quarter through another 50 meter penalty to Jarryd Roughead and it looked for a moment that the momentum had shifted their way. Luke Hodge lifted his ratings and Shaun Burgoyne was seeing more of the ball, but Eagles Jamie Cripps and Josh Hill soon took away any hope with goals that took the lead out to 50 points.
Hawthorn didn’t get to win the last two Premierships by being anything but a great team, and like all good sides they fought the game out to the end. When the final term started they lit up the ground with some attacking football in an attempt to wrestle the game back off the Eagles. The Hawks kicked the first four goals and had the hometown crowd a little edgy as they cut the lead to under 30 points for the first time since the second quarter. The Eagles had taken the equivalent of an uppercut blow and their knees buckled under the onslaught. However Sharrod Wellingham stood tall in the back line and took some timely marks to settle his teammates down and burn some precious time off the clock. When Hill kicked his third goal with minutes to play, West Coast had done enough to take the game.
West Coast players now have a week off as they prepare for the Preliminary Final which be another home game at Domain Stadium. The Hawks find themselves in the ruck and maul of the pack and must face the Adelaide Crows next weekend after the Crows defeated the Western Bulldogs in a thrilling Elimination Final Saturday night. If Hawthorn is to win its third consecutive Premiership, it will be done the hard way.
Scoreboard West Coast: 2.2 7.6 12.11 14.12 (96) Hawthorn: 2.3 2.4 4.9 9.10 (64) Best Players West Coast: Shuey, Hurn, Wellingham, Kennedy, Hill Hawthorn: Mitchell, Hodge, Lewis, Burgoyne
Article last changed on Monday, September 14, 2015 - 5:47 AM EDT