Hawthorn has earned the right to face Sydney in the AFL Grand Final after scraping past a scary Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday.
Not expected to put up much of the fight, Adelaide were right there for much of the match, but ultimately fell just short, losing 13.19 (97) to 14.8 (92).
The Crows rallied from a 22-point deficit in the third to actually take a one-point lead early in fourth when a reversed free kick saw Jason Porplyzia score before Graham Johncock kicked one on the run, but it wouldn’t last as Hawthorn’s stars stone through.
Cyril Rioli and Lance Franklin gave the Hawks a small buffer until Taylor Walker threatened with the impossible, kicking a goal with 16 seconds left on the clock to reduce the margin down to five.
Old hands Sam Mitchell and Brad Sewell, 29 and 28 possessions respectively, were the anchors in the midfield while Buddy Franklin kicked 3.5 to lead the Hawks attack.
Adelaide guns Scott Thompson (31 possessions) and Patrick Dangerfield (28, 11 in the last quarter) were prolific while Porplyzia also had a huge impact. Free agent Kurt Tippett produced his biggest game in over a month with four goals and 11 marks while last week’s hero Taylor Walker kicked another four.
The Hawks learnt before the game that captain Luke Hodge would miss with gastro and they certainly played like a team was coming off a week off. Hawthorn kicked 2.6 in the first while Adelaide poured in four efficient goals, but they found their composure in the second and took a one-point lead into halftime.
Saturday was the Crow’s fourth preliminary final loss since their 1998 Premiership and next Saturday will be the Hawk’s first Grand Final appearance since their victory over Geelong in 2008.
Hawthorn and Sydney split their two meetings in 2012, but the Hawks one the most recent encounter by seven points in Sydney one month ago.
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