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Hawks Head to Grand Final After Thriller

Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from the Melbourne Cricket Ground

All week Australian Rules Football fans were agog with the excitement of two stunning Preliminary Finals. The first promised a nail-biting encounter between two teams that have shared an astonishing rivalry since Hawthorn upset Geelong - the overwhelming favorites - in the 2008 Grand Final. In the eleven games since taking that Premiership, Hawthorn has not beaten Geelong again. With a week off after winning the Qualifying Final against Sydney, the Hawks had their best chance yet to take the Cats and advance to the Grand Final.

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Round Six Milestones

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Mick Malthouse (CARL) and Kevin Sheedy (GWS) are now tied in second place for all-time wins by a coach. Carlton's Round Five win against Adelaide and the Giants' loss to Gold Coast put both on 388 career wins, just behind Collingwood's Jock McHale (467 wins).

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Heat Rules Under Fire

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

A number of AFL coaches have questioned the AFL's trial of limiting bench rotations during the NAB Cup series to 80 per game. Hawthorn Coach Alastair Clarkson said he and his staff were spending more time pre-game trying to prepare for various scenarios based on the rotation limit and more time

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Underdog Swans Claim Premiership Cup

Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Australia

It was a Grand Final for the ages. A crowd of 99,683 screaming fans was treated to an outstanding contest after a week of talk about the weather potentially spoiling the spectacle. Meteorologists were forecasting bitter cold, strong winds, heavy rain and hail so when the storm clouds held off to provide a windy but otherwise clear afternoon, there were sighs of relief around Australia. Rumors that swirled pre-game about Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford, all-Australian Ted Richards and Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge under injury clouds also appeared groundless with both teams lining up as expected. In a notable first, goal umpire Chelsea Roffey became the first female and the first Queenslander to officiate at an AFL Grand Final.

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Like Tigers Of Old

Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

The Round 9 match between Hawthorn and Richmond was billed as a clash between the newly anointed Premiership favorites and the up and coming Finals hopefuls. The recent demise of Carlton and the continuing struggles of Geelong had the bookmakers talking up the Hawks as the team to beat in 2012. With young gun defender Dylan Grimes out of the Richmond team through injury, all signs pointed to a comfortable Hawthorn victory. The late withdrawal of another solid defender in Jake Batchelor left the Tigers' defense ripe for the picking for the Hawks' prize forwards in Lance “Buddy” Franklin and the dynamic Cyril Rioli.

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Hawthorn Douses Dockers Finals Hopes

Fremantle’s hopes of playing Finals may have been washed away after their loss to Hawthorn in a torrential rain-soaked Round 19 game. A crowd of over 30,000 fans braved the weather to watch a one sided contest that, in reality, was decided in the first quarter of the match. There was an air of anticipation before the game as last time the two teams met, Fremantle outplayed the Hawks until a spirited fight back saw the Hawks victorious. Coming into the match, Hawthorn was on Final Four pace, having won nine out of their last 11 games.

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AFL Trade Report

Adelaide traded its compensation selection for the loss of Nathan Bock to the Gold Coast and a third round selection (#50) for Richmond's Richard Tambling. Tambling debuted for Richmond in 2005 and played 108 games and kicked 61 goals.

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Controversy After Round 17

A controversial interchange penalty against Hawthorn could well be responsible for denying the Hawks victory against St Kilda. Cyril Rioli had just kicked a goal with two minutes remaining in the final term to give Hawthorn a 13 point lead. However, the goal was disallowed due to Hawk Grant Birchall briefly putting a foot across the interchange line before a teammate had come off the ground. The emergency umpire signaled the infringement to the field umpire who then awarded a 50 meter penalty to the Saints.

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