HAWTHORN 4.5 4.6 9.10 11.15 (81)
SYDNEY SWANS 1.4 7.4 10.5 14.7 (91)
Sydney are the 2012 premiers, triumphing over Hawthorn in an absolute epic in front of 99,683 passionate AFL fans.
Ryan O’Keefe took the Norm Smith medal as best on ground, but there were so many winners across the park it could have gone to a number of players. O’Keefe thanked both the South Melbourne and Sydney Swans supporters in his speech. He led from the front all day with 28 disposals, 7 clearances and a whopping 15 tackles.
This was the fifth premiership win in their combined history.
Sydney started slow but blew Hawthorn away in the second quarter, before the Hawks mounted a gigantic fightback, taking the lead in the last term before the Swans kicked in front and held their nerve to take the flag.
Nick Malceski sealed the game with his second amazing goal of the game in the last minute, booting a snap over his shoulder to raucous cheers and hugs from teammates.
There were early injury worries for Sydney, with it being revealed that Jude Bolton would have to go off for surgery after the game, ruckman Shane Mumford rumoured to have hamstring issues and Ted Richards still holding a niggle.
The much talked about weather didn’t seem to have a big impact early, but it quickly become evident that there was a definite scoring end. Captain Luke Hodge won the toss and the Hawks took advantage of this in the first, with Xavier Ellis kicking the first goal of the match before Nick Malceski responded with a beautiful boundary line snap.
From here, the Hawks squandered chances before putting on a scintillating burst towards the end of the quarter. Lance Franklin kicked his first for the game from a mark and the wind started blowing heavily. It was followed shortly after by goals to Luke Bruest (thanks to some brilliant work by Paul Puopolo) and Jack Gunston (from a quick clearance by Sam Mitchell), and the Hawks were in sight of another before the siren blew to end the first.
One of the highlights of the day came late in the first as Lewis Jetta took on Cyril Rioli in a foot-race. It might have been an omen that Jetta took the chocolates.
The Swans came out firing in the second and held the Hawks goal-less for the term. As the sun started shining on the MCG, so too did it seem to shine on the Swans as they absolutely devastated Hawthorn on the rebound, chiefly thanks to some amazing work by Alex Johnson and Rhyce Shaw. Former Hawk Josh Kennedy booted the first for the term, before Kieran Jack, co-captain Jarrad McVeigh and Sam Reid put the Swans in front.
As the Hawks started going forward, they looked like they could take back the lead before half-time. Enter Mitch Morton, the ex-Richmond and West Coast recruit playing just his 5th game for the Swans. He deftly moved out of congestion and snapped two quick goals to build the lead for Sydney.
Hawthorn had every chance to get it closer before half-time, but Franklin sprayed a set shot out on the full. Clinton Young also had a chance from 50m to bring it back, but he too bombed it towards goal with the same result.
Canadian recruit Mike Pyke really stepped up for Sydney as Mumford looked sore and slow, playing one of his best games for the club.
The weather seemed to dictate Sydney’s play again, and as the skies darkened it did so for Sydney’s chances as well. After a poor kick by Jarryd Roughead for a point, Jetta showed some amazing vision to spot up Jack, who then handpassed to Kennedy who booted his second. Lewis Roberts-Thomson then took a strong mark and kicked his first to take the lead out. It looked dangerous for Hawthorn, but to their credit they responded emphatically.
Facing a 27 point deficit and 42 minutes since their last goal, Hawthorn finally answered through ruckman David Hale. Franklin then kicked his second and the rebound from the defence was totally reversed – it was now all the Hawks. Hodge was playing a strong sweeper role in defence and was cleaning up any stray kicks.
A goal to Gunston and another to Franklin took the margin back to 2 points. Shane Savage was subbed on to take full advantage of the momentum swing and the Hawks hit the front through Issac Smith after another piece of Mitchell brilliance.
Sydney goaled from a 50m penalty against the flow to take the lead back, and Roberts-Thomson took a great mark on their defensive goal-line to ensure they’d keep it going into their last. As the siren went for the third, the Swans were up by one point and hearts were racing.
Hawthorn looked ominous as they begun the last much like they had finished the third – Bruest got the ball over the back and ran into an open goal before Hale kicked a brilliant second from a stoppage. Unfortunately for the Hawks, this was their last goal for the term.
Sydney weren’t phased and Daniel Hannebery, brilliant all day, kicked a goal to bring it back to 6. Jack then followed this up with another goal to level the scores as Hodge went off with the blood rule for the third time in the game.
The Swans pressed as an injured Adam Goodes produced a bit of brilliance to dribble home a goal. Too often in the last quarter Hawthorn did not take their chances, and this was exemplified when Gunston missed an easy shot from the pocket to draw the Hawks closer.
Brad Sewell kicked two behinds in a row before Malceski’s bit of brilliant put the icing on the cake, with his amazing snap the sealer.
Sewell (33 disposals, 11 clearances) and Mitchell (24 disposals, 10 clearances) fought incredibly hard for the Hawks, while Franklin and Hale were strong up forward, but it simply wasn’t enough to match the brilliance the Swans possessed across the park.
The Swans pressure was simply immense all day. They finished the game with a gigantic 110 tackles, with 10 players registering 5 or more.
Jude Bolton got a fairytale, playing badly injured in his 301st AFL game, Canadian Mike Pyke held the number one ruck spot after Mumford was subbed off and Mitch Morton gained a premiership medal at his third club. There are so many stories from this game, and the match itself deserves to go down in Grand Final folklore.
Hawthorn: Franklin 3, Breust 2, Gunston 2, Hale 2, Ellis, Smith
Sydney Swans: Jack 2, Kennedy 2, Malceski 2, McVeigh 2, Morton 2, Goodes, Hannebery, Reid, Roberts-Thomson
Hawthorn: Sewell, Burgoyne, Mitchell, Breust, Hale, Franklin
Sydney Swans: Hannebery, O’Keefe, Pyke, McVeigh, Johnson, Roberts-Thomson, Jetta, Goodes
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