Hawthorn surprised even themselves with how easily they beat Sydney for their 12th AFL premiership.
Hawthorn brutally outmuscled Sydney to win their 12th AFL premiership and confirm they are one of the game’s all-time great teams.
Going into Saturday’s grand final as underdogs and on the back of an unusually-challenging season, the Hawks surprised even themselves with the ease of their 63-point win.
Hawthorn out-Sydneyed the Swans, reducing the minor premiers to a rabble with their ferocious attack on the ball and opponents.
The most telling statistic of the match was the 22-7 tackle count in Hawthorn’s favour at quarter-time.
As good as the Hawks were, it was stunning to see Sydney play so badly.
The 21.11 (137) to 11.8 (74) win was the most lopsided grand final since Geelong’s record 119-point pummelling of Port Adelaide seven years ago.
Hawthorn won consecutive premierships for the first time in 25 years.
It is the first back-to-back success since Brisbane’s 2001-03 three-peat.
Combined with their surprise 2008 flag, Hawthorn join the Lions and Geelong (2007, ’09 and ’11) as the only AFL sides this century to win three premierships.
Coach Alastair Clarkson said the premiership itself was no shock, but admitted they did not expect the grand final win to be so comprehensive.
“The result didn’t come as a surprise to us – I don’t mean to say that in an arrogant fashion, because we prepared so well,” Clarkson said.
“Not in our wildest dreams did we anticipate it was going to be a 10-goal victory.
“In actual fact, no-one saw it coming in terms of that margin and many didn’t see it coming even in that result, because we were the underdogs.
“We probably deserved to be the underdogs, given Sydney’s outstanding season, but we gave ourselves a great chance.”
It was also sweet revenge for the Hawks after Sydney’s epic 10-point grand final win two years ago.
“We had four consistent quarters today and that doesn’t happen very often when the two best sides are playing off on grand final day,” Clarkson said.
“It’s very, very hard to keep that momentum going for the four quarters, but to win all four quarters in a grand final is a very special effort.”
But such glories were far from the Hawks’ minds during the season when they were beset by injuries to key players.
Even Clarkson had to take five weeks off because of a serious illness.
They also had to cope with the defection of star forward Lance Franklin to Sydney, thanks to a monster free agency deal.
Franklin kicked four goals on Saturday, which was particularly impressive given his old teammates clearly targeted him physically and verbally.
Hawks captain Luke Hodge won the Norm Smith Medal as best afield for an outstanding game in the midfield and defence.
Hodge also won the medal in 2008 and joins Hawks great Gary Ayres (1986 and ’88) and Adelaide legend Andrew McLeod (1997 ’98) as the only two-time winners of the coveted medal.
But it was a testament to Hawthorn’s all-round supremacy that Hodge polled 10 votes, only one more than Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell.
Everything worked for Hawthorn on Saturday, with Cyril Rioli making a handy contribution.
They took a big risk in picking Rioli for the grand final – his first AFL game for more than three months after he recovered from his latest hamstring injury.
Swans coach John Longmire couldn’t seem to get his head around why his side were just so lacklustre.
“We were on the back foot from the first bounce and unfortunately we weren’t able to wrest the momentum back at any stage,” he said.
“It’s just such a disappointing effort.”
Two-time Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes was one of Sydney’s best in what may be his retirement match.