The Eagles were coming.
The Hawks had built a 44-point lead halfway through the second term but 10 minutes into the third quarter it had been trimmed to just 25.
The Eagles had kicked 3.3 to two behinds either side of half-time and were leading the third term inside 50 count 7-1. They had all the momentum and more chances were to come. They simply had to take them to put pressure on the Hawks who were hanging tough.
Callum Sinclair won a critical contest in the middle of the ground slapping the ball to Mark LeCras who collected cleanly and gave it to Dom Sheed cruising past.
Sheed looked up to see Jack Darling streaming back towards goal, five metres clear of his opponent Ben Stratton. The kick was perfectly weighted, and Darling was in prime position to take an easy chest mark. But he dropped it, fumbled the crumbs and the chance was gone. Stratton cleaned up, gave it to Taylor Duryea who found Brian Lake in space. The Hawks then went the length of the field down and kicked a goal through Ryan Schoenmakers to restore the half-time margin of 31 points.
Adam Simpson shook his head in disbelief. All the momentum was gone. The Hawks kicked five of the next six goals to streak away to an unassailable three-quarter time lead.
Darling took ownership of his error in the rooms post-match.
"It's pretty frustrating," Darling told AFL.com.au.
"It's not just me but the whole team. But I had a couple of moments that I'd wish to have again. But in the end they were just a bit too classy.
"I don't think we got overawed by the occasion. I just think that the Hawks were really, really good."
Stratton thought Darling had him cold when he doubled back towards goal.
"I knew he was out the back and if they hit the kick I was stuffed," Stratton told AFL.com.au.
"I don't know if it was luck or, I don't know, but he spilled it and we were able to clean it up and go down the other end."
The Eagles made plenty of errors throughout the day and the Hawks punished them all.
Who made it happen?
Darling acknowledged the error was on his shoulders. The kick from Sheed was perfect. Darling had done everything right to turn Stratton and beat him back into space. Darling worked incredibly hard all day but things just did not fall for him.
What did it mean?
The Hawks felt the match could have been swinging out of their control. Had Darling marked and converted it would have been two consecutive goals to Darling and four in a row for the Eagles to trim the margin to 19 points.
"It was pretty important," Stratton said.
"I think they probably had a bit of the momentum. It was in their half. But there were a lot of important things during the game that when it mattered we were hard.
"We knew they would come because they're a fit side and 'Simmo' has got them well drilled. We thought if we could hang in there and dig in when it counted, it was pretty hot, we thought if we worked hard in that point in the game, we would be able to turn the momentum a bit and not let them run on."
Any cameo performers?
Stratton deserves a mention for his composure. While the Eagles had erred many times throughout the day, the Hawks always capitalised and this was no exception. Stratton was clean when his opponent wasn't. The Hawks were more composed than the Eagles all day.
How did they call it?
"Dropping back Darling, spilt the mark, Darling! Then he fumbled it away. Stratton, didn't need more than one chance, gave it to Duryea, the short one comes across to Lake and the danger has passed." – Dennis Cometti, Channel Seven
"How did he drop that? That's hit him on the chin. That's the difference between the two teams right there. One makes the most of their half-chances, the other makes a couple of big mistakes." – Wayne Carey, Channel Seven
And the fans...
… groaned. The Eagles fans were rising as one to celebrate the mark. They were stunned when it hit the ground. The Hawthorn fans roared when Schoenmakers rolled through the goal at the other end. The roaring hardly ceased from there as the Hawks strolled to victory.
Will they play it in 20 years time?
It be replayed in Darling's mind and the minds of a few teammates for years to come but it is unlikely to be replayed as a pivotal moment in this Grand Final. It was just the most poignant of a number of errors.
Lucky 13 - Hawthorn's VFL/AFL premierships
|Year||Grand Final||Norm Smith Medal|
|1961||Hawthorn 13.16 (94) d Footscray 7.9 (51)||Not awarded|
|1971||Hawthorn 12.10 (82) d St Kilda 11.9 (75)||Kelvin Moore* (Haw)|
|1976||Hawthorn 13.22 (100) d North Melbourne 10.10 (70)||John Hendrie* (Haw)|
|1978||Hawthorn 18.13 (121) d North Melbourne 15.13 (103)||Robert DiPierdomenico* (Haw)|
|1983||Hawthorn 20.20 (140) d Essendon 8.9 (57)||Colin Robertson (Haw)|
|1986||Hawthorn 16.14 (110) d Carlton 9.14 (68)||Gary Ayres (Haw)|
|1988||Hawthorn 22.20 (152) d Melbourne 6.20 (56)||Gary Ayres (Haw)|
|1989||Hawthorn 21.18 (144) d Geelong 21.12 (138)||Gary Ablett (Geel)|
|1991||Hawthorn 20.19 (139) d West Coast 13.8 (86)||Paul Dear (Haw)|
|2008||Hawthorn 18.7 (115) d Geelong 11.23 (89)||Luke Hodge (Haw)|
|2013||Hawthorn 11.11 (77) d Fremantle 8.14 (62)||Brian Lake (Haw)|
|2014||Hawthorn 21.11 (137) d Sydney Swans 11.8 (74)||Luke Hodge (Haw)|
|2015||Hawthorn 16.11 (107) d West Coast 8.13 (61)||Cyril Rioli|
|*Between 1965-78, 'Grand Final best on ground' was awarded before becoming the Norm Smith Medal in 1979|