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The Chase: 'Mitch' hunts down the September specialists

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WHILE regular season wins are important, September wins are the most prized of all.

Former Hawk and current Eagle Sam Mitchell is in the last year of his celebrated career, and will be aiming for his 18th finals win against Greater Western Sydney this week.

Forecast the road to the flag with the AFL Finals Predictor

The classy midfielder was an integral part of Hawthorn's four premierships dating back to 2008, boosting his finals record. 

Mitchell moved to 17 finals wins after West Coast's epic extra-time victory over Port Adelaide, after Luke Shuey kicked the match-winner after the siren in one of the craziest finishes in finals history.


If the Eagles do get over the line on Saturday night, Mitchell will move into the all-time top 10 for finals wins, with 18 from 26 finals.

The stats within the streak

Given the club's record in finals over the past 40 years, there's no surprise Hawthorn players dominate the all-time finals wins tally. 

Michael Tuck's lengthy career during Hawthorn's 1970s and '80s premiership era has shot him to the top of the list with 26 wins from 39 finals. 

Journeyman Martin Pike (Melbourne, North Melbourne and Brisbane Lions) is in second position with 21 wins from 27 finals, while Richmond's Kevin Bartlett and Mitchell's former teammate Shaun Burgoyne are in equal third with 20. 

From there, it's nearly all Hawthorn: Leigh Matthews and Chris Mew (19 wins), Gary Ayres, Dermott Brereton and Rodney Eade (18 wins). 

Jason Akermanis and Francis Bourke also recorded 18 finals wins in their careers.

Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis celebrate their fourth premiership at the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos

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Burgoyne heads the list of current day finals success stories, with 20 wins from 31 finals, the third-most of all-time. 

If selected, Steve Johnson is a chance to move into equal-third position if GWS get over the line against the Eagles.

Fast fact: Mitchell's 17th finals win saw him pass Gordon Coventry, Jimmy Bartel, Bill Hutchison, Dick Reynolds, John Blakey and Grant Birchall on the all-time list

Finals wins Finals games Player Club(s)
20 31 Shaun Burgoyne Hawthorn/Port Adelaide
17 31 Sam Mitchell West Coast/Hawthorn
16 23 Grant Birchall Hawthorn
15 24 Steve Johnson Greater Western Sydney/Geelong
13 25 Jarrad McVeigh Sydney

The Chaser part one: rare glory for eighth

Mitchell will also be chasing a team milestone this weekend.

A win for the Eagles means they will become only the second eighth-placed team to reach a preliminary final

The current finals format was introduced in 2000. Since then, only North Melbourne has reached the preliminary final after finishing the regular season in eighth position, a feat it achieved in 2015. 

In fact, the eighth-placed team has only won its elimination final eight times since 2000. A different finals structure was used from 1994-1999, under which no eighth-placed team won its final.

The Chaser part two: the Cats' quest

After its demoralising qualifying final loss to Richmond, Geelong now faces Sydney in a sudden death semi-final.

Unfortunately for the Cats, they will have to defy history in order to make the preliminary final, having never beaten Sydney in any final.

The Cats and the Swans have faced off in finals only four times, including when Sydney was playing as South Melbourne.

Their previous meeting was in last year's preliminary final, which the Swans won by 37 points at the MCG. 

The most one-sided finals match-up in history involves two clubs not involved in September action this year – Melbourne has a 16-5 (and one draw) record over Collingwood.


Text: Sarah Black | Designs: Kahla Emonson | Stats: Cameron Sinclair

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