This was a story that had the ending everyone expected – a Hawthorn win over Adelaide. But that final result turned out to be just about the only part of the script of this match that didn't get thrown out the window.
The pre-game read-through would have had a gallant Adelaide side perhaps sticking with the Hawks for a quarter, maybe even a half, before the hardened and super-skillful Hawthorn players drew away for a comfortable win. But this match deviated from the script even before the opening bounce, when Hawk captain Luke Hodge was forced to withdraw with a bout of gastroenteritis. The Hawks nevertheless dominated the first five minutes, but multiple entries into their forward line resulted in misses to Jarryd Roughead, Grant Birchall and Clinton Young.
When the game's first goal was finally kicked after nearly nine minutes, it was by Adelaide's Kurt Tippett. When Ricky Henderson followed up a minute later, the Crows had jumped to a 10-point lead. Clinton Young managed to slot Hawthorn's first at the 11-minute mark and when Liam Shiels popped through his first five minutes later to put Hawthorn in front, it appeared that original storyline had been located and would now be adhered to.
The Crows, however, had other ideas. Rory Sloane returned the lead to the Crows with a goal at the 18-minute mark and a second major to Tippett was enough to see Adelaide go into the first break with a seven-point lead, 4.1 (25) to Hawthorn's 2.6 (18).
An early second-term behind to Lance Franklin was replied to with a goal to Tex Walker at the six-minute mark and the Crows jumped to a 12-point lead, giving an indication that they were not going to give away a place in the Grand Final without a fight. But consecutive goals to Franklin, Luke Breust and Shaun Burgoyne saw the Hawks skip out to an eight-point lead, their biggest of the game, just before time-on in the second quarter and it appeared that “normal service” had finally been resumed. Adelaide's cult hero Walker had either ideas, though. He booted his second at the 25-minute mark and then, for the second consecutive week, kicked a morale-boosting goal after the half-time siren to give the Crows a five-point buffer at the main break, 7.3 (45) to 5.10 (40).
As well as being inaccurate in front of goal, the Hawks had been uncharacteristically poor with their ball-use all over the ground in the first half. The Crows, meanwhile, had been very efficient in their use of limited entries into their forward 50.
Hawthorn, having undoubtedly received a half-time “bake” from coach Alastair Clarkson, came out full of running in the first 14 minutes of the third quarter. A behind to Jared Petrenko was the only scoreboard impact Adelaide had during this period, while Hawthorn surged via goals to Jack Gunston, Luke Breust, Matt Suckling and Buddy Franklin. Combined, these took the Hawks to a 21-point lead and the Crows' resistance appeared to have finally been broken.
But again the Crows rallied, kicking three of the next five goals through Nathan van Berlo, Tippett, and the last goal of the term to Brodie Smith, which narrowed the gap to a not-insurmountable 16 points.
Hawthorn began the last quarter as it had the first, with gettable shots missed by Burgoyne and Franklin. At the six-minute mark, Kurt Tippett booted his fourth, reducing the margin once more to under two goals. An arm-wrestle ensued over the next 12 minutes, with both sides trading behinds. Jason Porplyzia broke the deadlock at the 18-minute mark, bringing the Crows to within just five points of Hawthorn. Two minutes later, veteran Graham Johncock goaled to put the Crows a point ahead, and the unthinkable result was a step closer to becoming a reality.
It came to the Hawks' forward line heroes, Cyril Rioli and Franklin, to restore order. Each scored a goal to give Hawthorn a 10-point lead. It appeared the Crows, who had been paying more than $6 for the win pre-game, were finally crushed. But there was to be a final twist. At the 28-minute mark a Hawthorn free-kick was reversed when an ill-disciplined Ryan Schoenmakers inexplicably and inexcusably pushed his opponent to the ground. Walker took the resultant free kick and calmly slotted a goal, reducing the margin to just five points, with 16 seconds remaining.
The game's final centre-bounce was vital, with Adelaide having to win the clearance to have any chance of claiming a last-gasp place in the Grand Final. But it was the Hawks who took it out of the middle, and when the final siren sounded, Hawthorn had scraped through.
Hawthorn, despite almost handing the game to Adelaide, can go into next Saturday's “big dance” with some confidence, knowing that they had held off the Crows despite being well below their best. But they will be afforded no such leeway against their Grand Final opponents, Sydney, who a day earlier comfortably accounted for Collingwood in the other Preliminary Final.
Hawthorn: Franklin 3; Breust, Gunston, Rioli 2; Young, Shiels, Burgoyne, Suckling
Adelaide: Tippett, Walker 4; Henderson, Sloane, Smith, van Berlo, Porplyzia, Johncock
BEST - AFL.COM.AU
Hawthorn: Sewell, Rioli, Mitchell, Breust, Lewis, Birchall, Franklin, Young
Adelaide: Tippett, Dangerfield, Thompson, Porplyzia, Sloane, Vince, Douglas
BEST - SPORTAL.COM.AU
Hawthorn: Rioli, Sewell, Mitchell, Franklin, Breust, Lewis
Adelaide: Tippett, Walker, S.Thompson, Dangerfield, Porplyzia, Vince, Sloane
Alastair Clarkson (Haw): [It's] satisfying that we worked hard as a club to get ourselves into a Grand Final. Preliminary Finals are always torrid affairs and no matter who the opponent, they're always tough games. We found out tonight that Adelaide finished second for a reason. They are a very very good side and we needed to play well to get across them tonight.
We set ourselves a target at the start of the year to finish as high as we could, and give ourselves a chance to play in the Grand Final. We get that chance now. We dominated the inside 50s and only kicked 2.6 in the first quarter. We didn't get the conversion we wanted to be able to put genuine scoreboard pressure on Adelaide. There's been plenty of times in games when poor kicking has actually cost you. We're lucky tonight that it didn't.
Brenton Sanderson (Adel): Our boys are disappointed. There's a lot of tears in the change-rooms. It's been a fantastic season for our boys to win the NAB Cup; to finish the season with 23 wins and seven losses from 30 games is a great achievement from this group and I'm just so proud of their efforts. From the first day of pre-season until the final siren tonight, I just thought they gave everything they possibly had to the footy club and for each other, and I'm so disappointed for them because they were so close to the ultimate game. But now that we've had a taste of it, I'm sure that it will burn and it will hurt for a long time, but we'll come back first day of pre-season, and we'll ensure that we are a better side next year and we're better prepared.
It was a great a game of footy; it went in ebbs and flows. Hawthorn were the better side though, and they certainly deserved to win.
UMPIRES: Donlon, Nicholls, McInerney
|14||Birchall, Grant||15||6||6||21||0||1||0||1||0||0||24y 238d||151||16|
|22||Breust, Luke||12||5||11||23||2||3||0||2||2||2||21y 316d||40||73|
|9||Burgoyne, Shaun||12||2||3||15||1||1||0||1||1||0||29y 337d||220||205|
|8||Ellis, Xavier||3||0||4||7||0||0||1||0||1||3||24y 207d||83||27|
|23||Franklin, Lance 'Buddy'||11||4||9||20||3||5||0||4||2||5||25y 236d||160||517|
|6||Gibson, Josh||9||7||6||15||0||0||0||0||0||0||28y 193d||123||2|
|19||Gunston, Jack||8||3||9||17||2||0||0||0||0||0||20y 342d||32||57|
|20||Hale, David||3||2||8||11||0||0||17||1||2||1||28y 123d||172||160|
|3||Lewis, Jordan||11||8||12||23||0||0||3||6||3||0||26y 151d||168||90|
|5||Mitchell, Sam||15||1||14||29||0||0||0||6||0||3||29y 346d||220||53|
|29||Murphy, Tom||9||4||4||13||0||0||0||2||2||0||26y 187d||95||5|
|28||Puopolo, Paul||1||2||5||6||0||0||0||1||1||0||24y 295d||40||32|
|33||Rioli, Cyril||17||8||9||26||2||3||0||5||2||0||23y 70d||105||140|
|2||Roughead, Jarryd||7||4||8||15||0||2||11||5||0||0||25y 243d||158||294|
|21||Savage, Shane||3||1||0||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||21y 261d||40||26|
|25||Schoenmakers, Ryan||5||4||1||6||0||0||0||4||0||1||21y 319d||59||5|
|12||Sewell, Brad||16||3||12||28||0||0||0||1||2||0||28y 233d||168||26|
|26||Shiels, Liam||10||4||8||18||1||0||1||6||2||1||21y 146d||63||19|
|16||Smith, Isaac||7||8||12||19||0||0||0||6||0||1||23y 267d||37||36|
|24||Stratton, Ben||8||3||2||10||0||0||0||3||3||1||23y 205d||51||1|
|4||Suckling, Matt||10||4||3||13||1||0||0||1||1||1||24y 59d||53||24|
|11||Young, Clinton||15||5||4||19||1||1||0||4||0||2||26y 219d||115||60|
|37||Callinan, Ian||5||2||4||9||0||1||0||1||0||1||29y 277d||26||41|
|32||Dangerfield, Patrick||15||7||13||28||0||1||0||1||4||2||22y 170d||89||94|
|11||Doughty, Michael||10||5||7||17||0||0||0||2||2||2||33y 48d||231||46|
|26||Douglas, Richard||9||2||10||19||0||1||0||5||2||1||25y 229d||114||76|
|45||Henderson, Ricky||9||7||7||16||1||0||0||2||0||0||24y 11d||42||34|
|24||Jacobs, Sam||5||2||4||9||0||0||38||0||0||0||24y 165d||60||13|
|18||Johncock, Graham||2||2||0||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||29y 337d||225||118|
|14||Mackay, David||12||6||7||19||0||0||0||5||2||0||24y 59d||86||24|
|22||Otten, Andy||9||8||7||16||0||0||0||6||0||2||23y 130d||47||3|
|23||Petrenko, Jared||3||1||1||4||0||1||0||2||0||3||22y 275d||59||33|
|40||Porplyzia, Jason||19||10||7||26||1||1||0||0||1||1||27y 300d||110||167|
|3||Reilly, Brent||17||3||3||20||0||0||0||1||4||1||28y 315d||181||50|
|25||Rutten, Ben||5||6||9||14||0||0||0||2||1||2||29y 117d||194||8|
|9||Sloane, Rory||10||4||10||20||1||1||0||2||1||1||22y 189d||57||37|
|33||Smith, Brodie||9||4||7||16||1||0||0||1||1||2||20y 252d||36||7|
|6||Thompson, Luke||4||4||7||11||0||0||0||2||0||0||21y 227d||14||2|
|5||Thompson, Scott||14||7||17||31||0||0||1||3||1||4||29y 192d||223||139|
|4||Tippett, Kurt||12||11||4||16||4||1||6||0||0||1||25y 137d||104||188|
|7||Van Berlo, Nathan||9||3||10||19||1||0||0||2||1||0||26y 108d||163||56|
|17||Vince, Bernie||18||7||3||21||0||0||0||0||1||0||26y 356d||108||67|
|13||Walker, Taylor||8||7||4||12||4||0||0||0||0||0||22y 150d||64||153|
|47||Wright, Matthew||9||7||9||18||0||0||0||2||1||1||22y 283d||41||33|