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Hawthorn the only threat to an all-Western Australia grand final

Expert
13th September, 2015
81
2959 Reads

Some call it a ‘darby’. Others go with ‘derrby’ or ‘derby’. It doesn’t really matter whether you go with a hard E, a soft E, or an E that sounds like an A.

The fact is that the classics played each year between the two Western Australian clubs, now look set to be played at the home of footy as the final match of the 2015 season

An all-Western Australia AFL grand final.

That’s what we’re in for unless the other four clubs can not only reverse what is for them a worrying trend, but find some form to take to Perth for the preliminary finals.

The Eagles were brutal against a Hawthorn team that looked below its best, while the Dockers, while not as convincing in their qualifying final win over the Swans, have shown in the past how difficult they are to beat at home with a grand final berth at stake.

Hawthorn and Sydney would both love to head back to the west for a another crack, at a different WA side this time, while North and the Crows will also be keen for a shot a grand final spot.

And while they all have hopes, dreams, and credentials, history says they are all in trouble.

Since the current finals’ format began back in 2000, where the top four teams meet each other in week one and the bottom four play for survival that same weekend, it’s becoming a habit that those week one winners who get the week off before hosting a preliminary final, go on to play in the grand final.

It happened last year when the Hawks and Swans won in week one, and eventually played the decider, again in 2013 when it was the Hawks and Fremantle, and in 2012 it was Sydney and Hawthorn enjoying the week off before beating their opposition in the prelims and meeting each other in that memorable grand final.

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Same story in 2011 when Geelong and Collingwood met in the grand final after week one qualifying finals wins, and likewise in 2010 when St Kilda and Collingwood played the grand final.

In 2009 the Saints and Geelong won in week one, had the week off, won in week three and played on that final September Saturday.

And the same in 2008 with the Hawks and Cats, and again in 2007 with the Cats and Port Adelaide.

That’s eight straight, an imposing record.

If we go back to the beginning in 2000, Essendon and Melbourne won the qualifying finals, before beating Carlton and the Kangaroos respectively to qualify for the grand final. A year later the Bombers and Lions did likewise in week one, and likewise in week three to reach the grand final.

And in 2002, Brisbane and Collingwood won in week one, got a week’s break then both won their preliminary finals before the Lions won back to back flags a week later.

In 2003, Collingwood and Sydney won in week one. The Pies won their prelim, while the Swans lost to eventual winners Brisbane (who lost in week one to Collingwood) in their preliminary final in Sydney.

In 2004 Port Adelaide and Brisbane both won in week one, then both then won their preliminary finals and played the flag decider.

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Sydney and the West Coast not only met in the 2005 and 2006 grand finals, but they faced each other in week one in both seasons. In 2005 the Eagles won, as did St Kilda in week one, before Sydney beat the Saints in the preliminary final to set up that cliffhanger grand final.

The following year, Sydney beat the Eagles in Perth in week one, while Adelaide won the other qualifier, but the Eagles then beat the Crows, before going on to beat the Swans in the decider.

So I hear you saying what does that mean now?

Well for one, the week off and having home field advantage and a huge partisan crowd in the preliminary final with a grand final berth at stake, is clearly massive.

I cannot see the Swans or North beating the Eagles at home, especially the way they looked against Hawthorn on Friday. Sure North beat the Eagles in Perth last season, and Sydney have won eight of their past nine against West Coast, including five games in Perth, but on what I saw this weekend, both the Swans and North would need to improve dramatically to match what I saw on Friday.

I think if there is to be a chink in my theory, it’s on the other side of the draw.

I loved the way the Crows played and the spirit they continually display, after all that has happened this season. But I really don’t think they will be able to match the Hawks.

I’d love the feel good story to continue, but I just can’t see it happening.

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The Hawks have been scratchy and some would say they were headed for that performance last Friday. I didn’t see it coming, but I can see them bouncing back, and then it’s off to Perth again.

They have beaten the Dockers in seven of the past eight clashes, the only loss being in Perth last season. This potential clash will be a thriller, between two sides both considered flag certainties at various stages of the season.

Right now, I think both are chasing the Eagles, and both better hope they find their earlier season form, or they will be in for a disappointing end to what promised to be their season a few short months ago.