This Saturday we again find the Hawks on the biggest stage of our great sport, for the fourth year in a row. That record speaks for itself and if we are talking about what gives this group an edge on the weekend then surely that is our main talking point.
Some facts and figures don’t quite matter at the end of the day for me. The beauty of grand final day is that there is always a capacity for an upset. Both teams should go in on even money if I had it my way, because the previous 26 weeks just don’t matter. Arguments floating around that the week off will be a major asset for the Eagles are farcical. Do you really think that something a fickle as travel and a week off will effect a team as well grounded as the Hawks? Of course not.
So let’s label them, the reasons why Hawthorn can win this weekend:
The Hawks are arguably the most professional organisation in Australian sport, the way they have proceeded through the last decade of on and off field performances.
The Hawks can win on Saturday on something a little more than skill and talent. They can win on the concept of knowing how to. Confused? Let me spell it out for you. These men were threatened in the preliminary final against Fremantle and although to the naked eye it was simply a hiccup for Hawthorn. However, upon re-watching it can be seen that the Hawks looked at one another and simply say “We’ve been here before… we know how to do this.” And do it they did.
Come grand final day that will be their biggest weapon, the fact that for the past four years these men have both win and lost on that fateful day. They know what works, they know what doesn’t and they know how to swallow the emotions that begin to creep into their game.
Hawthorn are the ultimate professionals. Say no more.
2. Uncontested spread
Un-contested marks have been a massive part of Hawthorn’s game this season. When they dominate the uncontested ball, they dominate the game, it’s as simple as that. They have the most rounded skills in the competition and when given an ounce of time and space to utilize, you better believe that the opposition will be punished. So simply, the Hawks have to work hard spreading across the ground in unison as to ensure that they have that extra second or two of uncontested ball to make the difference. Yes, the Eagles defensive zoning will make this difficult but how exciting is that? An unstoppable force v an immovable object.
They have the ability to work just that tiny bit harder than West Coast, making the web somewhat useless if the offence is executed flawlessly.
Not to say that West Coast don’t have leadership, merely saying that Hawthorn’s leaders are proven and constant. Luke Hodge could win a game of football for his team without touching the ball once, something I’m not sure Shannon Hurn is capable of just yet.
Speed is the most important weapon in dismantling any defensive zone. If your players are fast enough to set up behind the ball and on the rebound before the other teams zone is absolutely locked in then your chances of returning the ball for a score are doubled. The likes of Isaac Smith and Brad Hill are imperative in the Hawks victory.
5. Home Ground Advantage
I know it isn’t the most important of factors, but the fact the Eagles have only played the MCG once this year is a nagging factor in the back of my mind. The MCG is quite different to domain stadium. It isn’t as narrow and the team travelling isn’t exactly accustomed to playing on a ground so fat. Not a major contributor on the day, but still food for thought.