By Ren Thompson – @renthompson
After the excitement of two semi-finals that were settled in the final quarters – one being settled in the final minutes – the preliminary round weekend games were all but over after the first quarter! After two thumping victories our grand finalists have been decided. Lets check out the games…
Hawthorn AFC def. Power House AFC
Hawthorn has monstered their way to the Division 3 Grand Final with a 143-point demolition over Power House, 179-36, at St. Bernards College on a perfect Saturday afternoon. Powered by five-goal hauls to Jason Ince and Russell White the Hawks used a dominant first half performance to put the result beyond a shadow of doubt in a complete team effort. It was perhaps unfair that Power House’s season ended with such a whimper given the courage the club showed to reach the second week of the finals after entering as winners of seven straight games. The House continued to play with the ‘nothing to lose’ mentality that got them albeit surprisingly to this stage in the first place after their come from behind win over UHS-VU last weekend but it was no match for the Hawks. Hawthorn showcased their slick ball movement and outside running with Luke Piccolo and Sam Gold continuing their scintillating form resulted in the forwards receiving pin-point passes that they were able to convert. Hawthorn peppered the scoreboard throughout the first quarter posting five goals with four behinds while Power House were able to get two majors of their own before the siren sounded. It was however a second quarter onslaught by the Hawks that snuffed out any chance of that they would wilt in the Winter Sun as they kicked 11 goals to one to go into half-time with an unassailable 85-point lead. From there it was party time for the Hawks faithful as they piled on another 10 goals to two in the final half including holding Power House scoreless in the final term. James Theofanis worked tirelessly for the House up front and was rewarded with two goals but it was the Hawks stifling defence that proved too strong in the victory. Being able to slow key forward Nick Nagel holding him to a lone goal after he had booted a combined 18 in the previous three weeks proved to be vital in stopping any Power House attack. The loss brings an end to an inspired campaign for head coach Ant Voyage and his men, after a tough 2015 season the squad were able to double their win total this season and make a return to Finals footy. A disappointed showing but they can find solace in the fact they were one of the best teams in the Division for the last two months of the year, something to build upon in 2017. For Hawthorn their stellar season continues on and they have sent an ominous warning with the resounding victory as they have another crack at that elusive premiership title and the ensuing celebrations down at Rathmines Road on the last Saturday of the season.
Glen Eira AFC def. La Trobe University AFC
Glen Eira has marched through to the clubs first grand final since 2011 after a commanding 74-point win over La Trobe University, 108-34, at Garvey Oval on a sunny Sunday afternoon. In a contest with the highest stakes on the line, it was Glen Eira who used a superb opening term to jump out to a 20-point lead at the first siren and didn’t look back. La Trobe entered on a five-game winning streak but struggled to settle into the game, evident on the scoreboard as they quickly fell behind and couldn’t fight their way back into the game. In the magnificent opening half where they out-ran, out-tackled and out-smarted the Trobers, the Saints shifted to another gear in the second half. The Saints stepped on the gas in the third quarter to open up a 60-point lead at three-quarter-time. As they kicked five goals and conceded only one goal in the third, while adding another four and again only conceded the one goal in the final term to run out the massive victors. Matthew Cassidy was the star of the game dominating from the opening bounce, while Leigh Stevens was on fire in front of the big sticks adding a game-high five goals. Julius Waras Carstensen was brilliant with four goals, while Roman Zemlinsky was another of the Saints who stood up in the contest. The Trobers who had been scoring with ease over their winning streak averaging 105.6 points per game failed to make an impact at the attacking end that has brought a subdued close to their amazing season. After finishing 10th in 2015, the Trobers were sensational in 2016 finishing with the best defence in the Division but unfortunately the rock solid backlines faulted when the season was on the line. Elliot Kelly was a star throughout the year, assisted week in and week out by Jacob Christie, while upfront Mitchell Gleeson had a stellar year taking out the goal-kicking title, some definite building blocks for a renewed tilt at the title in 2017 but today was all about Glen Eira. After stumbling into the Finals losing two of their final three games to fall to second on the ladder, the Saints shook off any signs of being a potential upset candidate with the controlling victory getting back to the defensive focus that saw them go undefeated for the first 15 games of the season. Although next week is their biggest test attempting to slow the high scoring Hawks.
Now it is time for the biggest game of the year. As the high scoring Hawthorn Hawks face off against the tenacious Glen Eira Saints. They have been the best two teams all season long. They split their two regular season match-ups with each club winning at their opponents’ home ground. The game will feature 10 of the 22 from the team of the year in a star-studded affair. The Saints will face the almost insurmountable task of slowing the ferocious Hawks scoring, they have done it once already this season but weren’t able to replicate the same success when Hawthorn visited Packer Reserve in the final round of the season and squared the ledger. Now we have the decider in what has the potential to be an instant classic, but I believe the Hawks team-based offensive firepower will be too much for the Saints to douse and result in the Hawks finally celebrating that elusive premiership.
Hawthorn AFC vs Glen Eira AFC