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Ten things we learned from the Grand Final

Highlights: 2015 AFL Grand Final The Hawks and Eagles clash in Saturday's decider

• Analysis: How the Hawks unravelled the Weagles' web
• The Kennedy assassination: Frawley's game of a lifetime
• Match report: Hawks secure historic three-peat

1. You have to actually get near Cyril Rioli to stop him
This wasn't something we necessarily learned on Saturday. But let's put it down as a very clear reminder: if you're playing on Cyril Rioli, stand somewhere in the vicinity of him. He's too good to let run loose. Unfortunately for West Coast, they learned this the hard way in the Grand Final. Rioli was in open space for so much of the first term it was hard to work out who was actually meant to be guarding him. It was West Coast's fatal flaw. They let Rioli into the game and he smelt blood, continuing at the same rate to have 18 disposals and kick two goals as well as a huge impact. Rioli was a deserving Norm Smith medallist.

2. If you're playing in a Grand Final, bring some intensity
Perhaps we can put it down to inexperience, but West Coast will rue its limp opening half that cost it a real shot at the premiership. The Eagles let the Hawks run riot in the first quarter-and-a-half of the Grand Final, seeing the premiers open up a 31-point lead at the main break. By the time the Eagles settled into their own game – about halfway through the second term – the Hawks had already established a lead that was never going to be run down. The Eagles missed shots that were straightforward, missed kicks under little pressure and missed tackles that were there to make. Although many were expecting a fast and tough opening, the Eagles' lack of ferocity and defensive game opened the door for the Hawks.

3. The opening bounce was not a sign of things to come
Hawthorn big man David Hale would have thought he was in for a tough day after the opening bounce, when opposing ruckman Nic Naitanui took the ball out of the ruck, won the first clearance and banged it forward. The ball trickled through for a rushed behind, but set the early tone. Or so we thought. It was one of just three disposals for Naitanui in the first half, and he managed just four touches for the game. He had 37 hit-outs, but had little influence on the contest. He wasn't alone for the Eagles, with midfield ace Matt Priddis gathering 25 disposals but having little say on the outcome. Fifteen Eagles had 15 or fewer disposals, compared to just six Hawthorn players. 

4. The Hawks can go again
Why stop at three? In the next week or two the Hawks will likely make decisions on veteran pair Brian Lake and David Hale, who are out of contract. Lake has stated he wants to play on but a deal has not yet been forthcoming for 2016, while Hale will have a think about his future. But beyond those two, the rest of the Hawthorn list looks settled. Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge and Shaun Burgoyne are nearing the end of their illustrious careers but are still going strong, and a core of players, such as Isaac Smith, Jack Gunston and Cyril Rioli, have plenty of good footy left in them. Having become just the sixth team to win three premierships in a row, four consecutive flags are well within reach.

BACK TO BACK TO BACK: VFL/AFL premiership streaks

2013-2015 Hawthorn (three flags)
2001-2003 Brisbane Lions (three flags)
1955-1957 Melbourne (three flags)
1939-1941 Melbourne (three flags)
1927-1930 Collingwood (four flags)

5. Hot weather doesn't make a difference
Perth-like conditions were meant to favour the Eagles and hurt the ageing Hawks, but we were all wrong with that theory. The warm weather saw a new mark set for the hottest Grand Final day on record (the mercury hit 31.3 in the first half), and at quarter-time both clubs shifted their huddles into the shaded area of the MCG surface. The Hawks wanted to get the score on the board early, evident in their use of the interchange bench. The Hawks had 38 first-quarter interchanges to West Coast's 25, and at half-time had recorded 67 to the Eagles' 49. Although the Eagles had more run after the main break, the gap between the sides was too large to close.

6. It's easier to defend Domain Stadium than the MCG
West Coast's defensive 'web' has been central to its success this year, a zone defence that tangles up opponents who try to cut through it. For most of the year, it has held up well, particularly on their home turf at Domain Stadium where the dimensions are a little different to other grounds. The Eagles played just one game at the MCG this year before Grand Final day, so the question hung over their heads about how the web would work at the venue come finals. It didn't take long to get an answer. Hawthorn's slick ball movement and then long entries into attack broke through West Coast's set-up and was central to the club's 13th premiership.   

Lucky 13 - Hawthorn's VFL/AFL premierships

YearGrand FinalNorm 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

7. Shaun Burgoyne has the courage to match his class
In the 31st final of his illustrious career, Burgoyne once again proved his champion qualities. Known as 'Silk' for his sublime skills, Burgoyne had the moment of the first quarter when he charged back with the flight in defence to take a brilliant chest mark. The grab not only cut off a forward entry for the Eagles but also kick-started a forward movement for the Hawks, who at that stage were on the back foot after West Coast's quick start. Burgoyne was brought to the Hawks to extend their premiership window at the end of 2009, and on Saturday he became a four-time premiership player (2013-15 with Hawthorn, 2004 with Port Adelaide). He will be considered a big-game player for the ages. 

8. You have to take your chances against the Hawks
The Eagles looked a chance to strike after half-time, but couldn't quite nail their opportunities. Mark LeCras missed a shot early in the term, but then Jack Darling had a kick from the pocket and slotted it. He looked set to kick another when he was streaming into an open goal as the ball was passed his way. In the clear, Darling went for a chest mark but spilled the ball, and messed up his chance.

Had he marked and then kicked the simple shot, Darling would have cut West Coast's deficit to 19 points. Instead, the ball rocketed to the Hawks' end and they kicked a goal to stretch their lead to 31 points. Darling's fumbled chance was reminiscent of Rhyce Shaw's costly error in the 2003 decider when the Brisbane Lions saluted for their three-peat against Collingwood.

• The moment: Darling's drop costs Eagles dearly

9. Jack Gunston wasn't lying when he said he was fit to play
Every Grand Final build-up needs a player who is 'racing the clock' to prove his fitness for the big game. This year Jack Gunston filled that narrative, after missing the Hawks' semi-final and preliminary finals with a leg injury suffered in their qualifying final defeat to the Eagles. All cameras were focused on Gunston at Hawks' training during the week, and at the Grand Final parade on Friday he said he was never going to miss the game and was 100 per cent ready. Judging by his performance on Saturday, there should never have been any doubt. He kicked four goals from 17 disposals, meaning he has now kicked multiple goals in all of his three Grand Final appearances.

10. The big stage got the better of a few Eagles
After a dynamic season and an exciting finals series so far, Elliot Yeo was the wildcard heading into the premiership decider. But the young West Coast midfielder managed just five disposals in a poor showing, the only highlight his goal on the half-time siren that gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope. Yeo wasn't alone in the group of Eagles who won't look back upon the 2015 Grand Final fondly. Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy got wiped by James Frawley and managed just nine touches, while Sharrod Wellingham's use by foot hurt the Eagles. It was a disappointing end to a great year for the club.