The mid-week review: Grand Final

What got us talking: The Hawks’ three-peat

The 2015 season is done and dusted. It was a new year but the same old story.

Yes. It happened. The three-peat came into fruition as the Hawthorn Football Club won its third grand final in a row, downing West Coast by 46 points.

In a season full of competitive contests, upsets and some unfortunate thrashings, many expected an exciting grand final.

But this hope didn’t eventuate. Fox Footy’s Gerard Whately pretty much summed it up: “it wasn’t the game we hoped for”.

The debutant West Coast side looked overawed by the occasion. In a day they would rather forget, nothing went right for the Eagles.

They were fumbling at the contests, inaccurate in front of goal and simply gave the Hawks too much time and space. Everything they were doing only helped the Hawks do what they do best.

Eagle key forward and Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy, who had kicked 80 goals for the season, went goalless. Hawthorn’s James Frawley held him well with Kennedy never looking like he would capitalise on the scoreboard. The ineffectiveness of the Eagle’s midfield and the pressure heaped upon West Coast’s defence surely didn’t help matters.

But while West Coast’s inexperience on the big stage showed, there is no doubt the class and experience of the Hawks was just too good.

Hawthorn was impeccable from the get-go. They took their opportunities in front of goal, kicking five straight in the first term compared to the one goal and five behinds the Eagles managed. Their defence was flawless, picking off  West Coast’s miss-fire attempts.

And while it was definitely a whole-team effort, there still managed to be one shining above the rest. Cyril Rioli continuously found space on the ground, always seeming to be two-steps ahead of the play.

His 18 disposals and two goals might not look much on paper, but his sheer influence on the game saw him awarded his first Norm Smith Medal. He joined his uncles Maurice Rioli and Michael Long in being judged the best player on Grand Final Day.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to follow in their footsteps,” Rioli said. “It’s very humbling, especially to get it from Andrew McLeod.”

Captain Luke Hodge also spoke of how sweet this particular win was for the club.

“They’re all great – but this – you can’t explain the feeling,” Hodge said. “We have had a few ups and downs this year, but the way the boys played (was great).”

Coach Alastair Clarkson acknowledged the club had “to do it really, really tough for a little while there” when assistant coaches Brendan Bolton left to become Carlton’s senior coach and Brett Ratten’s son Cooper passed away in a car accident. But his players received the full set of admiration.

“Thanks to this group of players over here – a very, very special band of boys,” Clarkson said. “They’ve made a real special part of our history with their efforts throughout the course of this year but particularly today.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of you boys, thanks for your efforts.”

This history-defining win sees the Hawthorn Football Club premiership tally rise to 13. Their three back-to-back wins was also a first for the club and it was only the fifth time it’s happened in VFL/AFL history.

The only team to go a step further than this Hawthorn feat is Collingwood who won four in a row from 1927 to 1930.

So can this three-peat turn into four straight? ‘Too old’ and ‘too slow’ hasn’t stopped Hawthorn in the past so there’s a good chance the AFL history books might have to be re-written again in 2016.

What we learnt from the grand final

– Hits and misses

The entertainment once again had people talking. Rocker Bryan Adams fired with his classic hits and Chris Isaac impressed in front of a smaller audience. But British pop star Ellie Goulding fell short. Whether it was a technical fault or lip-synching claims are true, the fans just didn’t like it.

– On the road again

It’s never a nice feeling seeing your team get smashed in a game, but it’s so much worse when that game is a grand final. Admirably many West Coast supporters stuck out the match but for those who had made the journey across the Nullarbor, the drive or flight home would have been a long one.

– Hawthorn really is the family club

There were children all over the ground at the end of the game. Player’s kids came up with their dad’s to get the premiership medallion and Brian Lake even brought his along for a ride on the Gatorade car. But new dad Jordan Lewis stole the show when he brought his six-day-old son, Freddie, up on stage with him.

What we can expect now that footy is over

– Trade period and draft time

Yes the matches are over but footy hasn’t left us just yet. Trade period extends to October 22nd while the NAB AFL Draft is on November 24th and the pre-season and rookie drafts are on November 27th. Lock in those dates to find out what your club’s list will look like for 2016.

– Bye-bye footy

Then comes the six-month wait… That’s about it. Maybe pick up a new hobby?

– Summer sport

If you’re open to other sports, then you’re lucky because Australian summers are packed full of them. Spring racing carnival, cricket, the Australian Open and the A-League all take place during the warmer months. So hang in there. Pick a team to follow and it will help pass the time.

(First published on Bound For Glory News on the 8th October 2015)

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