Heated Grand Final Rematch


The Sydney Swans have defeated the Hawthorn Hawks 11.7.73 – 9.15.69 in a nail-biter at the MCG on Saturday night. 

In a heated grand final re-match both teams were playing old fashioned ‘hard’ footy straight from the opening whistle. Hawthorn did their best to disrupt the Swans natural rhythm by enforcing their physical prowess. Several off the ball incidents had the crowd a buzz and the referees were doing their best to catch a glimpse of everything, spinning their heads like a scene from the Exorcist. 

The Swans had the last last in the opening quarter. 5 goals were kicked and unanswered. Hawthorn has not been held goalless in the opening term since 2012. It was the Swans who did the damage then and they exacted revenge for a pummelling in the 2014 final after seeing off the Hawks offensive.

Dan Hannerbery, Gary Rohan, Ben McGlynn and two to Kurt Tippett had the Swans ahead 5.1.31 – 0.4.4. Another bad sign for the Hawks was the withdrawal of Brian Lake, who was making his return, due to a knee injury after tackling Buddy Franklin. He returned in the second quarter with effect. 

Sydney’s first quarter dominance  in disposals (105-86), ground balls (32-21) and contested possession (43-34) continued early in the second. Ben McGlynn kicked his second in the first five minutes as the Hawks demeanour had lessened in intensity. Gunston and Smith kicked behinds for Hawthorn, desperate to get going in the contest.

Hawks faithful Luke Breust kicked the opener for the Hawks after 36 minutes of footy. The Hawks are averaging 114 points in 2015 and after their 21st inside 50 for the night, Ryan Schoenmakers nailed their second. Sydney had 14 inside 50s with a return of 6.1 goals. 

Three in a row had the Hawks back in touch. Within 13 points the premiers finally had some momentum and the contest resumed. Hawthorn were leading the quarter leading disposals (41-33), contested possession (17-14) and inside 50s (8-3).

Sydney were being swamped only achieving 4 inside 5os and managing 1 behind in 20 minutes in the second quarter. Sam Reid is usually confined to defensive marks, but the long and strong centre marked strong in the forward 50 and banged home the major with 2 minute on the clock. Sydney back out to a 2 goal lead. 4.9.33 – 7.4.46 to Sydney at the half break.

“It is going to take intensity throughout the whole second half to get through,” commented Luke Parker at the break. Parker had 17 disposals, 10 handballs and 4 tackles in the quarter.

9 of the last 10 scores resulted in behinds as both teams cooled down in the third quarter from the white-hot start. Both teams struggled to get a flow going. There were few transitions from the back as the ball was continually tied up.   

Jack Gunston stepped up to break the deadlock after half the quarter had elapsed. The Hawks were back to within 6 points after the Swans had led by 34 points. Schoenmakers finished an explosive play by Paul Puopolo who broke three tackles and placed a well-timed fend to help level the scores. 

A piece of Cyril Rioli magic saw Hawthorn hit the lead with 3 minutes remaining in the third.  All but one of Sydney’s scoring shots came from Hawthorn turnovers and the game was poised for the most composed team to run away with the match in the fourth.

Hawthorn lead marks per game inside its opposition’s forward 50 in 2015, ranked No.1 in the AFL and they led the Swans 39-30 with one quarter to play. Combined with limiting Buddy Franklin to only 1 inside 50 (Q2 9:35), Hawthorn were holding a slight edge.

Sydney were being punished for their poor delivery inside 50. After being restricted to only 6 for the match, Cyril Rioli leapt highest again to kick the Hawks ahead by two goals with 13 minutes on the clock. After kicking the first 6 goals, Sydney relinquished 9 goals 2 to Hawthorn.

Two goals from captain Jarrad McVeigh brought the match back to a contest. The Swans were 1 point behind at 9.14.68 – 10.7.67 with 6 minutes remaining. Sydney’s most in form midfielder Luke Parker made the most of some quick ball movement to put the Swans in front with 4 minutes left to play.

Luke Breust missed a clutch kick from a set shot as coach Alistair Clarkson looked on in disbelief. Sydney made the most of their goals from turnovers (11.6 Hawthorn 5.8) to take the match and push two games clear of the Hawks on the ladder.

“I was stuck down there so I had to do something with the chances,” commented a humble captain Jarrad McVeigh after the match.