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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.

Everything started well for the Dockers. They got "the blast" - the quick hard opening attack they have become known for - up and running with two quick goals to Michael Walters and Jonathan Griffen. It would have been a third if Chris Mayne had not butchered a simple shot on goal. Perhaps this put the jitters and doubts into the minds of the Dockers and "the blast" stalled. It took a couple of soft free kicks to get the Hawks on the board with two goals but then the rout started. The Hawks kicked five goals in a row to end the quarter and leave the Dockers dazed at quarter time and forced into damage control.

Strong words from Coach Ross Lyon in front of the capacity crowd didn’t seem to have the desired effect as Ryan Schoenmakers kicked the Hawks’ sixth unanswered goal soon after play got underway in the second term. Hawthorn players were electric with a 71% disposal accuracy which was five per cent better than they managed during the regular season. Fremantle clawed back a couple of goals and would have been right in the hunt had Griffen converted an easy shot on the half time siren. Instead his shot hit the post, the Dockers were nearly three goals behind and clearly rattled by Hawthorn as they headed for the club rooms and a well-needed break to re-assess.

In the second half the game became a bit more free flowing and goals resulted. Both teams kicked four goals each in the third quarter but there was a sense that the Dockers were all at sea. They made some critical errors that resulted in turnover scores and at one point had 9 goals 3 three scored against them from turnovers, skill mistakes of their own doing and it was only going to get worse. The skill level was the difference in the two teams and ultimately cost Fremantle the game and their chance for a second Grand Final campaign.

Hawthorn had their midfield on song and Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge were unstoppable. They were everywhere the ball was and no amount of tagging by their opponents did any good. These two have had an exceptional Finals' series and will be key again in next week’s big game. Stop the influence of Mitchell and Hodge and you might have a chance, let them use their sublime ball skills and there will be trouble.

Fremantle surrendered meekly in the end and when Taylor Duryea kicked his goal on the burst through the forward line even the crowd could sense the inevitable. It was a disappointing end for Minor Premiers Fremantle who, although winning enough games to finish on top of the Premiership Ladder, lacked the firepower at the end of the season when it really mattered. Unlike the Hawks, the Dockers simply couldn't kick enough goals to overcome high-scoring opposition teams and will need to look at their game plan over the off season to improve.

Hawthorn looks dangerous and has an excellent chance of winning their third Grand Final in a row. Should they do so, they would become only the fifth team in the history of the game to win consecutive premierships, the others being Collingwood (four) and Carlton, Melbourne and Brisbane (three each). 

Fremantle: 2.1 4.4  8.4 10.7 (67)
Hawthorn:  5.2 7.2 11.3 15.4 (94)

Best Players
Fremantle: Spurr, Mundy, Griffen, Walters
Hawthorn:  Mitchell, Hodge, Gibson, Rioli

Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 4:32 PM EDT

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