The 2013 Grand finalists meet in a final for the first time since that day, this time for the right to play off for a premiership. The Hawks have rediscovered their best football at the perfect time, while the Dockers will be banking on a rest giving them the fresh legs they need to progress. It could be the last chance for Freo veterans Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands and Luke McPharlin.
WHERE AND WHEN: Domain Stadium, Friday September 25, 6.20pm AWST
TV, RADIO AND BETTING: Click here for broadcast guide
Fremantle: Key defender Luke McPharlin re-injured his troublesome calf in the lead-up to the qualifying final win over the Sydney Swans and is unlikely to return.
Hawthorn: Spearhead Jack Gunston hurt his ankle in the qualifying final loss to West Coast and has already been ruled out. He is the only best 22 player unavailable this week but would be good chance to be fit next week if the Hawks progress to the Grand Final.
Round 15, Aurora Stadium: Hawthorn 17.13 (115) d Fremantle 6.7 (43)
Hawthorn thrashed Fremantle all over the field, inflicting Ross Lyon's heaviest defeat with the Dockers. Sam Mitchell (39 disposals) and Luke Breust (four goals) were the stars, but it was the Hawks' relentless pressure that broke Freo. They had more disposals (427-308) and tackles (83-58).
R21, 2014, Fremantle 17.8 (110) d Hawthorn 13.13 (91) at Subiaco Oval
R3, 2014, Hawthorn 21.11 (137) d Fremantle 11.13 (79) at Aurora Stadium
GF, 2013, Hawthorn 11.11 (77) d Fremantle 8.14 (62) at the MCG
R4, 2013, Hawthorn 18.10 (118) d Fremantle 11.10 (76) at Aurora Stadium
R8, 2012, Hawthorn 17.17 (119) d Fremantle 9.9 (63) at Aurora Stadium
THE SIX POINTS
1. It will be a battle of the highest scoring team this season and the best defence. The Hawks average 110 points per game and last week kicked 21 goals for the second time in their past three finals. The Dockers defence has conceded only 70 points per game this season.
2. Fremantle and Hawthorn have clashed only twice previously in finals. The Dockers won an elimination final in 2010 at Domain Stadium before the Hawks won the 2013 Grand Final at the MCG.
3. No team has kicked the ball more this season than Hawthorn, averaging 223.2 a game and resulting in 257 uncontested possessions a game, also No.1 this season. The Hawks are also ranked first for marks, averaging 101.7 a game.
4. Fremantle has a 50 per cent record in preliminary finals. Hawthorn has won their past three preliminary finals but they’ve been close, decided by five, five and three points.
5. The Dockers will hold a clear advantage in the ruck led by Aaron Sandilands. The team is ranked first for hit-outs with 58.9 a game. Hawthorn is ranked sixth but is equal third for centre clearances compared to Fremantle’s ninth.
6. Fremantle still boasts the No.1 player in the game in Nat Fyfe, according to the Official AFL Player Ratings, but Hawthorn has more players in the top 40 (four compared to the Dockers' three). Star forward Jarryd Roughead (No.17) is the Hawks' highest ranked player.
KEY MATCH UPS
1. Chris Mayne v Josh Gibson
The Dockers need to find a way to keep Gibson accountable and stop him from either coming into contests third man up or taking space from small forwards Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne. Mayne could be the man to take away his offence and also work into dangerous positions when possible.
2. Jordan Lewis v David Mundy
If Sam Mitchell and Nat Fyfe are the two players most likely to come under heavy attention, Lewis and Mundy should have the opportunity to be momentum shifters from the midfield for their respective teams. Both were stars in the 2013 Grand Final.
3. Ben Stratton v Michael Walters
If Fremantle is going to kick a winning score, its small forwards are likely to be the leading goalkickers. Stratton could go to either Walters or Ballantyne, who each kicked three goals in the Dockers' low-scoring win against the Sydney Swans two weeks ago.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
Fremantle: Matthew Pavlich is playing in his 15th final and hoping it will lead to his second appearance in a Grand Final. Rumours, which he refuted, this week suggested he will retire at the end of this season. It does shape as his last chance to win a premiership and his own form will be a key to earning that opportunity.
Hawthorn: Sam Mitchell wouldn't have been able to help the build up to this match being about whether or not Ryan Crowley was called in for his first match in 12 months. The star Hawk is in great form and it could take something radical for the Dockers to stop him.
WHERE THE HAWKS CAN WIN IT
If the Hawks can make a quick start and isolate gun forwards like Jarryd Roughead and Luke Breust early, they will be daring Freo to open the game up to get back into it. The Dockers have struggled when coming from behind and Hawthorn would love to be in a position where the Dockers need to take risks.
WHERE THE DOCKERS CAN WIN IT
A Dockers win would likely be engrossing but not attractive. They would love the game to shut down into repeat stoppages where Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands can get to work, getting numbers around the ball and then kicking forward to an open forward line for their small forwards come into play.
PREDICTION: Hawthorn by 18 points