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Swans hope, Hawks need AFL grand final win

Roar Guru
28th September, 2012
4

As much as coach Alastair Clarkson tries, Hawthorn can’t shake the expectation that, while Sydney hope to win Saturday’s AFL grand final, the Hawks must.

Since their 2008 grand final upset of Geelong netted a young Hawthorn side the first of a club target of two flags in five years, the Hawks have failed to match the huge expectations.

They've spent most of this season as premiership favourites, despite the Swans holding top spot for much of it, and will enter the MCG decider clearly holding that status.

But Clarkson denies Saturday's grand final will be the reverse for the Hawks of their 2008 experience, when he needed to convince his side pre-game that downing the Cats was possible.

"The difference was in 2008 Geelong were on top of the ladder for the whole season," he told reporters on Friday.

"Sydney were on top of the ladder for a fair amount of this year.

"We know Sydney are a great football side and we've been able to play some good footy ourselves throughout the course of this year.

"And we know that probably in the big scheme of things, the two best sides consistently over the course of 22 rounds are playing off in the grand final.

"It's going to be a really fierce battle and I reckon it's 50-50 who are going to win.

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"We're obviously hoping to goodness that it's us."

The Swans, in the top four for the first time in six years, have largely flown under the radar.

Many experts see their success partly due to a favourable draw.

Convincing finals wins over Adelaide and Collingwood have franked their credentials.

But Clarkson says he has known since Sydney's upset of Hawthorn in Launceston in round five that the Swans are legitimate flag threats.

"I don't think anyone had them in their top two or three at the start of the season," he said.

"The form that they showed on that particular day, I was thinking to myself if they continue to play in that type of manner they're going to feature heavily at the end of the year.

"That's been proven right."

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While expectations are different, the two clubs have built towards this opportunity in similar ways.

The Swans have added Josh Kennedy, Shane Mumford, Rhyce Shaw, Martin Mattner and Mitch Morton from other clubs since their 2006 grand final loss.

The Hawks have followed suit since their 2008 win, adding key cogs David Hale, Josh Gibson, Shaun Burgoyne and Jack Gunston.

They've split their two meetings this year with the Hawks winning a seven-point thriller at the SCG in round 22, although Swans coach John Longmire said that defeat hadn't damaged his side's belief.

"It was a really fierce contest with nothing in it at the end," he said.

Both teams are expected to line up as selected, the coaches saying forecast low temperatures, high winds, rain and possible hail would not affect their plans.

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