Sunday 18 March 2018 / 07:20 AM

Hawthorn Are Back On Top

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert Kennedy.

If it isn’t placed on a placard at Waverley Park, it should be after winning their 11th Premiership on Saturday.

They’ve dared to fail over the last five years with a combination of painful finals defeats, the Kennett Curse, and injuries stalling them since 2008.

In the last five seasons Hawthorn has taken a lot of criticism, been subjected to ridicule, and even had their biggest fans call for sackings and mass changes.

Yet they persevered and kept following the plan in the face of all the hubris and after the pain of failure, they have managed to finally achieve ultimate success.

Too Slow? Why do they need a football player to run 100m in 10 seconds when Luke Hodge and Shaun Burgoyne can dissect a side with their inch-perfect, 50m passing?

Kennett curse? Who cares that Geelong has won 11 of their last 13 against Hawthorn. The Hawks two wins in that period were the important ones, a Preliminary Final and a Grand Final.

These criticisms that have plagued the club now mean nothing, which will increase the already beaming smile on Alistair Clarkson’s list.

The match itself wasn’t a classic Grand Final; it won’t be remembered like the 2012 or 1989 finals.

Hawthorn dominated early and managed to avoid being weighed down by the Fremantle defensive straight jacket.

At the same time, they applied the same manic pressure to Fremantle who couldn’t break the suffocating Hawthorn press.

Jordan Lewis and Grant Birchall got busy early on with Lewis third man up at the contest to negate Aaron Sandilands (Hawks won clearances 42-34).

While Fremantle challenged and were competitive, Hawthorn never looked in any real danger of giving up their lead.

Their best players managed to refrain from panicking and lead them out of danger when Fremantle lifted.

The X Factor for the Hawks was Jack Gunston and his four goals on a low scoring day.

Brain Lake was good, but how Gunston did not win the Norm Smith Medal is beyond me – considering goals win matches, he kicked 4 of them. When it’s a high scoring match that’s impressive.

Ryan Crowley played Sam Mitchell out of the match; not that it mattered as Lewis, Hodge and co. stepped up.

Speaking of Lake, he did well to negate Pavlich, who bar a 15-minute purple patch in the third quarter, failed to have a major influence on the contest.

While 2014 is a long way off, they will be the favourites to repeat this year’s result.

With every Grand Final, there is the same amount of despair in the losing side as the amount of joy created by the winning side.

Fremantle were gallant without being brilliant, noble without winning the fight.

The pressure of the big game got to several players and they played with a combination of pensiveness and nerves.

When Nate Fyfe kicked out on the full on a 40m set shot just minutes into the match, you felt they were in for a tough day.

8.14, plus three out on the full shots indicates the Freo had the chances but couldn’t convert (they had one less I50 than Hawthorn).

Considering how low-scoring the game was, Fremantle did have a chance to pinch it but just couldn’t kick straight.

Also, scoring 1.6 to half time generally doesn’t win many games.

While they fought bravely all day, they did not have enough class to challenge the rampant Hawks when it mattered.

Coach Ross Lyon said in his post-match, press conference that his team couldn’t do the basics right.

A combination of nerves and Hawthorn’s manic pressure game resulted in numerous Dockers mistakes.

Errant kicks, bad choices and wayward kicking were commonplace from the opening bounce and it cost the Dockers dearly.

Plaudits must go to Ryan Crowley whose effort on Sam Mitchell saw the Hawks star become another victim added to his trophy collection.

Nate Fyfe despite his impressive wayward kicking inside 50 was unreal in midfield, while Barlow and Mundy were impressive.

Unfortunately, Pavlich couldn’t get into the game, while Sandilands wasn’t able to exert his usual influence at the stoppages.

Make no doubt; this current Dockers side will not be a one-Grand Final wonder.

They do have the talent to win the premiership and if they continue playing the inspired footy that they played throughout 2013, they will no doubt be a title contender for the next few seasons.

It just wasn’t their day on Saturday, but they will have many more if Ross Lyon can keep the nucleus of the current squad.

In the mantra of the great Robert Kennedy, they failed to win on Saturday but they dared to make the Grand Final against Hawthorn by risking all.

For that, Fremantle will achieve greatness in the future.

Despite the Essendon saga, Melbourne tanking and other off-field scandals, 2013 was a great footy year with attacking footy back in vogue.

2013 is officially done, only 6 months left until the bounce of the ball in 2014.

Considering the likely thumping we will get in the Ashes and the Tennis, it can’t come quick enough.


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John Hunt

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