Hawks break 17-yr drought, Cat hearts

By Jason Phelan 7:35 PM Sat 27 September, 2008

Chance Bateman celebrates during the Hawks' grand final triumph

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HAWTHORN has stunned red-hot favourites Geelong to take out the 2008 grand final by 26 points at the MCG on Saturday.

The Cats will rue their wastefulness in front of goal with 11 behinds in succession effectively ruining their chances of back-to-back flags, but the determined Hawks thoroughly deserved the 18.7 (115) to 11.23 (89) victory in front of 100,012 fans. 

With the temperature hovering in the high 20's Hawthorn's tenth premiership came on the back of a supremely gutsy effort as they played most of the second half with just two fit men on the bench after Trent Croad and Clinton Young were knocked out of the match.

The defence was superbly marshaled by Norm Smith Medallist Luke Hodge (26 touches), who played his customary loose man role, with the Hawks leading by 17 points at the last break before running away from the Cats who clearly tired in the conditions.

With danger man Sam Mitchell well-held by Cameron Ling it was Hawthorn's band of runners led by Brad Sewell (27 possessions), Xavier Ellis (28), Shane Crawford (25) and Michael Osborne (26) that stepped into the breach.

With Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead subdued in the first half, Alastair Clarkson rolled the dice and switched Stuart Dew to full-forward and sat Franklin out on a wing in the third quarter. The move was one of the keys to the win.

Six goals rained down at the Punt Road end as the Hawks blew the game apart with Mark Williams leading the way with three goals in an even spread of scorers for his team.

A key moment occurred in the 12th minute of the second quarter when Croad pulled up sharply when chasing the ball into the pocket.

Young had 17 possessions to half time but departed the match three minutes into the second half. His absence, though, made little difference to the spirited Hawks.

Gary Ablett was Geelong's best with 34 possessions and two goals while Steve Johnson (34) and Joel Selwood (29) were also prominent.

Both sides showed a willingness to attack the game right from the opening bounce with the first quarter producing 10 goals – five for each team - for the first time since 1989. As expected it was the Cats who settled quickest with Tom Lonergan opening the scoring, but it didn't take long for the Hawks to find their rhythm.

Hawthorn's small forwards were pushing hard up the ground to create space inside their forward 50, and the ploy worked with three goals in succession giving the underdogs a 13-point lead.

With the question asked of them, the Cats answered emphatically, rattling off three majors of their own.

Cam Mooney provided one of the highlights of the match with a brilliant goal from the boundary to give his side the slenderest of leads at the first break.

The second quarter was one of the most extraordinary periods of football seen this season with the Cats threatening to pull away, but the Hawks somehow managing to eke out a three-point advantage at half time.

Croad's departure forced a reshuffle that saw Grant Birchall drop deeper into defence to pick up Tom Lonergan with Stephen Gilham moved onto Mooney..

But Paul Chapman's goal in the first minute was Geelong's only major for the term as their vaunted selfless approach to scoring took a back seat. More than a couple of better options were spurned as the Cats racked up nine behinds to allow the Hawks to hit back late through Williams and Young.  

The smaller Hawthorn forward line that emerged for the second half threw the Cats' defence into a spin with forced errors and turnovers contributing to the stirring Hawks' onslaught that saw five goals – including two to Dew - scored in a withering burst that put Hawthorn up by 30 points.

But the shell-shocked Cats managed to dig deep and scored two goals in the dying minutes to send the match into a tense final term with the deficit cut to 17 points.

With momentum against them, Geelong simply had to score the first major of the final term if a comeback was to be mounted, but after a hard-fought seven minutes, the Hawks sealed a historic victory with a three-goal burst.

Geelong 5.3 6.12 9.18 11.23 (89)
Hawthorn 5.2 8.3 14.5 18.7 (115)

Mooney 2, Ablett 2, Rooke 2, Lonergan 2, Chapman, Milburn, Johnson
Hawthorn: Williams 3, Dew 2, Rioli 2, Franklin 2, Roughead 2, Bateman, Ellis, Brown, Young, Hodge, Mitchell, Ladson

Ablett, Scarlett, Selwood, Chapman, Corey
Hawthorn: Hodge, Sewell, Crawford, Dew, Ellis, Osborne, Williams

Harley (concussion),
Hawthorn: Croad (foot), Young (ankle)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Vozzo, McLaren, Ryan

Official crowd: 100,012 at the MCG

The views in this story are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL.
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