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Hawks edge Port in thriller to reach third straight Grand Final

Highlights: Hawthorn v Port Adelaide The Hawks and Power clash in preliminary final 2
Jarryd Roughead of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the AFL 2014 Second Preliminary Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and Port Adelaide Power at the MCG, Melbourne on September 20, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Jarryd Roughead celebrating one of his six goals for the night
HAWTHORN is one victory away from winning back-to-back flags for just the second time in its history after barely withstanding a fierce final-quarter Port Adelaide comeback to win the second preliminary final by three points at the MCG on Saturday.
 
With Jarryd Roughead starring in the first three quarters with six goals – the most goals by a Hawthorn player in a preliminary final – the Hawks withstood a five-goal last term from the Power to secure a 15.7 (97) to 13.16 (94) victory that takes them through to their third consecutive Grand Final.
 
The Hawks looked home when they kicked two of the first three goals of the final term, with Jack Gunston's goal at the 11-minute mark giving them a lead of 28 points.
 

But the Power have been lauded for their ability to run out games this season and they looked set to overrun the Hawks when they piled on four goals in eight minutes – two of them to Angus Monfries – from the 19-minute mark to close to within four points.
 
The Power then had 2.40 left on the clock to pinch an improbable win and Andrew Moore had a tough 45m shot at the 30-minute mark to put them in front, but just slid it across goal.
 
With 1.05 left on the clock, Brad Ebert looked set to put Port back into attack, but Luke Hodge pulled off a stunning smother before Tom Jonas was unlucky to be pinged for holding the ball.
 
The Power mounted one final attack, but Brian Lake managed to hold the ball up on the Hawks' 50m line and the siren sounded soon after much to Hawthorn's relief.
 

Port was desperately unlucky but only had itself to blame for its inaccuracy in front of goal that saw it finish the match with seven more scoring shots.
 
Hawthorn's win over Port sets up a mouth-watering rematch with its 2012 Grand Final conquerors, the Sydney Swans, and, even more enticingly, a clash against their two-time premiership hero and now Swans spearhead Lance Franklin.
 
Port might have entered the contest as underdog, but it showed no signs of being overawed, hitting the Hawks from the opening bounce with suffocating pressure and their trademark run.
 
The Power dominated the inside 50s (17-7) and contested possessions (41-21) in the first term and kept the Hawks tied down in their defensive half for much of the quarter.
 
But the Power's dominance was not reflected in their 12-point quarter-time lead, for which they could blame their 3.9 scoreline.
 

The Hawks hit back in the second term, kicking 6.1 to the Power's 2.2 to take an 11-point lead into the main break.
 
Hawthorn stretched its lead to 23 points by three-quarter time, with Roughead kicking three of his six goals in that term, including one directly from a centre bounce at the seven-minute mark.

Ultimately, the Hawks' win was built on its dominance of clearances (48-34), its more efficient ball use and its ability line-breaking outside run.
 
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said he was proud of the resolve his players had shown in such a testing final.
 
"We started poorly tonight. We were perhaps fortunate that Port Adelaide didn't put us away on the scoreboard early on and then we got control of the game for the next two and a half quarters really," Clarkson said.
 
"Halfway through the last quarter, a 'Roughy' snap probably would have sealed it but he just missed.
 
"And they were able to get a free kick at the other end of the ground (to Monfries at the 19-minute mark) that just started to give them a little bit of momentum and it was hard work stemming the flow in the last part of the game.
 
"But it's good for our footy club that we've been able to get a victory and we get ourselves ready for Sydney next week."
 
Hawthorn celebrates as the final siren sounds. Picture: AFL Media 

 
"You've just got to say that they're an incredibly brave group the way they just keep going," Hinkley said.
 
"They had every right to roll over. They've had an amazing September.
 
"But we've got to get better. We don't want to lose, we want to play next week and we're not and that's the hard part."


The Hawks' win was soured by a corked thigh suffered by vice-captain Jordan Lewis in the third term when he collided with teammate Matt Spangher in a marking contest.
 
Lewis left the ground briefly for treatment and was substituted from the game late in the third term, with the Hawks sure to be sweating on his fitness in Grand Final week.
 
Hawks captain Luke Hodge didn't need to prove to anyone that he is made for finals football, but he did it anyway.
 
The skipper cut off Port attacks with his sure marking in defence, won clearances in the midfield, flew third man up to win seven hit-outs and kicked one goal.
 
Sam Mitchell (27 possessions) was his usual prolific self despite the close attentions of Port tagger Kane Cornes, Bradley Hill's run was important and Ben Stratton blanketed mercurial Port forward Chad Wingard.
 
Port skipper Travis Boak led his team from the front, racking up a game-high 33 possessions as he ran, harassed and tackled tirelessly.
 
Monfries did a solid defensive job on Hawk defensive playmaker Grant Birchall and threatened to be the Power's match-winner with his four goals.
 
Robbie Gray (25 possessions and three goals) was also outstanding, while Brad Ebert (25 possessions) was one of the Power's prime movers in the midfield.
 

Since entering the VFL/AFL competition in 1925, the Hawks have won back-to-back flags just once, in 1988-89.
 
They split their two games against the Swans this season, losing by 19 points at ANZ Stadium in round eight but turning the tables to win by 10 points in round 18 at the MCG.
 
However, Hawthorn will enter the Grand Final with the confidence of having won four of its five clashes against the Swans since the 2012 Grand Final, including its 54-point win in last year's first qualifying final.
 
The Hawks could also welcome back Cyril Rioli next Saturday, provided the star forward gets through Sunday's VFL Grand Final against Footscray unscathed.



HAWTHORN                 2.3       8.4       13.6     15.7 (97)
PORT ADELAIDE         3.9       5.11     8.13     13.16 (94)

GOALS
Hawthorn: Roughead 6, Gunston 2, Smith 2, Hale, Langford, Suckling, Duryea, Hodge
Port Adelaide: Monfries 4, Gray 3, Neade, Wingard, Westhoff, Boak, Schulz, Polec

BEST
Hawthorn: Roughead, Hodge, Mitchell, Langford, Smith, Hill, Stratton
Port Adelaide: Boak, Ebert, Gray, Hombsch, Jonas, Monfries

INJURIES
Hawthorn: Lewis (corked thigh)
Port Adelaide: Hombsch (concussion)

SUBSTITUTES 
Hawthorn: Jordan Lewis (corked thigh) replaced by Jonathan Simpkin at three-quarter time
Port Adelaide: Jackson Trengove replaced by Andrew Moore three-quarter time

Reports: Nil
 
Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Schmitt

Official crowd: 74,856 at the MCG