Finals are a few short weeks away, and although eight teams remain in the hunt for that elusive premiership, there is only one team that can take it to the Tigers.
It is not Melbourne, who have been the dark horses over the course of the year, but it is Hawthorn who can take it to Richmond on the last Saturday in September.
The Hawks’ win against Geelong has solidified their spot and with an easy road until the finals – taking on St Kilda this weekend and Sydney in Round 23 at the SCG – the Hawks are comfortably in the top four.
Doing the ladder predictor, I see Hawthorn taking on West Coast in the first week of finals at Optus Stadium, in which an upset is on the cards. The Eagles go down and Alastair Clarkson’s men secure a home preliminary final for the first time since 2014.
[latest_videos_strip category=”afl” name=”AFL”]
If Hawthorn beat West Coast, then it looks like they will set up a clash against a rejuvenated Collingwood at the ‘G – and imagine a sold-out Saturday twilight clash between two teams who are no strangers to facing off in the finals.
This sets up the ultimate showdown, between Richmond and Hawthorn, where I can see the Hawks beating the Tigers due to their experience.
This will also be a good test for apprentice coach Damian Hardwick, who 12 months prior was sitting in a cafe with his mentor, Alastair Clarkson, asking for advice on how to take their game to the next level.
Plenty of people would love to see one of the greatest coaches of the modern era take on his old assistant, and if Richmond can go back-to-back, only then will the baton be passed from Clarkson to Hardwick.
The Hawks have shown grit and determination, and have switched on at the right time. If they can continue this momentum and win the grand final, they can then claim themselves as the greatest team of the modern era.