The Preliminary Finals
After Swans relatively easy win over Collingwood on Friday, Hawks survived a late scare against Adelaide on Saturday to join them at the MCG in the 2012 AFL Grand Final.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley admitted they were “smashed” in contested possessions, “out-run and out-worked” after a physically and emotionally tough week for the Collingwood players. After only 6 days rest and the funeral of former team- mate John McCarthy, the Pies were no match for a offensively rampant and typically tough-tackling Swan side, who looked fresh after their 13 day break and ran out 26 point winners. The match also marked the end of veteran Chris Tarrant’s AFL career.
Sydney 13.18 (96) beat Collingwood 10.10 (70). On Saturday, Adelaide raced out to a first quarter lead against the Hawks who were wasteful in front of goal early on. Crows forwards Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker were immense throughout, the latter putting Adelaide 5 points ahead with an important kick after the half-time siren. Buddy Franklin was everywhere in the Hawks forward 50 but he couldn’t convert enough of his chances for Hawthorn to pull clear.
Entering time-on in the fourth quarter, Johncock put the Crows in front but as Cyril Rioli pushed forward to link up with Franklin, the pair each goalled to seal their place in the final next Saturday. Hawks 13.19 (97) beat Adelaide 14.8 (92).
The Brownlow Medal
At yesterday’s Brownlow Medal count in Melbourne it was Adelaide’s Rory Sloane who won all the plaudits… and Jobe Watson won the Brownlow. As the players walked the red carpet at the annual event, as usual, all the talk surrounded the talent in the skirts instead of the shirts.
The fashion show and fittest girlfriend vote was dominated by Sloane’s girlfriend Belinda Riverso, but as the smoke cleared and the count got underway, there where a few nervous faces in Melbourne’s Crown Palladium Ballroom.
2009 winner Gary Ablett Jr. polled three best-on-ground performances in the first three rounds, but Watson raced ahead, polling in 12 of the first 13 rounds to take the lead on 23 points. As Essendon’s season took a turn for the worse, Watson’s count slowed a little and Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell must have been quietly confident in second place, but by round 22, the lead of 30 points was unassailable.
A late surge of 11 points in the last four rounds saw Tiger Trent Cotchin draw level with Mitchell on 26 points. Last year’s winner Dane Swan finished even with Adelaide’s Scott Thompson (25), ahead of Gary Ablett (24) and Patrick Dangerfield (23). Josh Kennedy, Lenny Hayes and Dayne Beams rounded out the top ten on 19 points.
It was a deserved win for the Essendon captain, with a total of 6 best-on-ground performances, to become the first Brownlow Bomber since James Hird in 1996.
The Grand Final
It was only a matter of weeks ago in round 22 that the Hawks came from behind to steal a tight win from the Swans away at the SCG, and they’ve been red-hot favourites for the flag all season long. But Sydney can upset them without a doubt.
The Swans smashed them in the second half of their round 5 clash to win by 37 points, and played good footy ever since. They’ve been flying under the radar this year but look to be back in the form that took them to consecutive grand finals in 05/06.
Hawthorn look to be the better side on paper, and they might just take something more from the scare they had in the preliminaries, but they’ll need to be better in front of goal.
If Sydney are going to win, they need Adam Goodes and young Lewis Jetta firing. The Swans’ will be hoping to lock down Buddy Franklin and Cyril Rioli or the Hawks just might run away with this one.
It’s bounce down at 2.30PM (AEST) this Saturday at the MCG.
image: © raiderofgin