In what was another display of class and excellence in the AFL Grand Final, Hawthorn have again prevailed on the biggest day of the year to secure their much desired third consecutive flag. Following this dominant performance, these are the five things we learned.
1. ALASTAIR CLARKSON IS RANKED UP ALONGSIDE THE GREATS OF COACHING
Over the past 50 years of the VFL/AFL, only six coaches had completed this honour before Alastair Clarkson, making him part of a group of only seven individuals including names such as Jeans, Barassi, Sheedy, and Matthews. However, all of this seems even more amazing when you look at where Hawthorn were when Clarkson took on the role. After the 2004 season, Hawthorn finished 15th on the AFL ladder with less then one percentage point saving them from the wooden spoon. Now the Hawks have made five Grand Finals in eight years, with four flags (including three in a row) to show for it. it begs the question: would all of this been possible without Alastair Clarkson?
2. SOME EAGLES DIDN’T STEP UP ON THE BIG STAGE
On the big stage, many understood before the game that Hawthorn would be more calm and experienced seeing it was their fourth grand final in as many years. However, very few expected just how poor some of the Eagles played on the big day. The Coleman Medalist in Josh Kennedy was held goalless for the match and finished with just nine touches, although Naitanui had 37 hit-outs, his four disposals had little impact of the rest of the game. These are just a few examples of some players that had a lot of expectation heading into this clash. In fact, only six Eagles players had 20+ disposals whereas 11 Hawthorn players completed the same feat. Comparisons like this show the difference between the two teams.
3. WHEN GUNSTON SAYS HE IS READY, HE IS DEFINITELY READY!
Following Gunston injuring his leg in the Hawks 32-point loss to the Eagles in the Qualifying final just three weeks ago, this injury saw Gunston miss both the Elimination final against the Crows and the Preliminary final against the Dockers. With much speculation surrounding whether or not he would return for the big game, Gunston openly stated he was 100 percent ready. He wasn’t wrong. Gunston finished with four crucial goals, ten marks and 17 disposals to round out a fantastic game by the key forward.
4. IN ORDER TO WIN, YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY
It has been evident throughout this entire finals series that when the chance is there, you have to take it. For most of the finals this is commonly referred to inaccurate kicking, but on Grand Final day the problems were much worse for the Eagles. Yes inaccurate kicking, at crucial moments, did cost the Eagles to some extent. It is hard to single a player out, but Jack Darling made a massive mistake that may continue to haunt him for a long time. A mark straight in front of goal could have seen the margin cut back to around three goals in the third quarter. However, when the mark was dropped by Darling it meant that it was the Hawks who had an opportunity to capitalize. This saw the Hawks extent their margin to 31 points and move one step further to win the Premiership.
5. THE BEST TEAM OF THE MODERN ERA
Bruce McAvaney said it following the Hawks win over the Swans in last year’s Grand Final. Those words: “the greatest team of the modern era.” Once the Hawks then went on to win yet another flag the following year, it is almost certain. Especially in recent times, the only team that would be of similar comparison would be the Lions of the early 2000s. Led by Leigh matthews, the Lions also made four consecutive Grand Finals and won three consecutive flags. However, this Hawthorn outfit is arguably one of the best of all time and there are no signs of slowing down. in fact, there is nothing to say they won’t go again next year and make it four in a row. Either way, Hawks fans should be proud of their club as very few other teams have completed the much desired three-peat.