MELBOURNE – Hawthorn has overcome an injury wave and brutal Collingwood resistance to confirm its status as the clear AFL premiership favourite and set up a home preliminary final.
The Hawks thrashed the Magpies 20.15 (135) to 15.7 (97) in last night’s qualifying final in front of 85,625 fans at the MCG.
Forced to leave out Brent Guerra (hamstring) and Clinton Young (calf), the Hawks made Jordan Lewis (hamstring) a late pre-game withdrawal, then lost Brendan Whitecross to a suspected anterior cruciate ligament injury in the early minutes.
Physically pounded by a desperate Collingwood early, with Chris Tarrant setting the tone with his harassment of Lance Franklin, the Hawks trailed the Magpies late in the first half, at which stage Franklin was yet to kick a goal.
But the Hawks showed enormous fight and class, kicking the last three goals of the first half, including Franklin’s first after the siren, to assert their authority, then finished over the top of the Magpies.
Hard-nosed midfielders Sam Mitchell and Brad Sewell were outstanding, youngster Luke Breust displayed great poise and kicked two goals, while Franklin finished with four and Josh Gibson was staunch in defence.
Travis Cloke kicked six goals for the Magpies and Andrew Krakouer four.
While the Hawks will have a fortnight’s break, the Magpies face a do-or-die MCG semi-final next weekend, against the winner of tomorrow’s West Coast-North Melbourne clash.
Both sides have some notable match review panel concerns.
Tarrant could be in trouble for a jab to Franklin’s body in the first term and fellow backman Nick Maxwell for an off-the-ball clash with Paul Puopolo in the third.
Hawthorn’s Jarryd Roughead will also attract scrutiny for knocking Chris Dawes over away from the play in the first quarter.
The Hawks showed early nerves, missing their first four shots at goal, but still built a 15-point lead at quarter-time.
Collingwood fought back with three goals in five minutes early in time-on in the second term to inch ahead, before a late Hawthorn surge sent them 18 points clear at the long break.
Two crucial missed opportunities cost the Magpies dearly in the third term.
Cloke had an early shot at goal, but it was taken off him when Tarrant infringed on Franklin off Cloke could have narrowed the gap to 18 points midway through the term, but kicked out on the full, with the Hawks again going forward where a Franklin free kick against Tarrant resulted in a major.
Another to Jack Gunston a minute later put the Hawks 36 points clear and the contest was all but over.
Cyril Rioli of the Hawks handballs whilst being tackled by Alex Fasolo of the Magpies last night.
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