Main content

Grand Final Preview: Sydney Swans v Hawthorn

The form

The Hawks didn’t play their best footy against the Power in the Preliminary Final but it was still enough in the end to get over the line.

Facing the Swans is more favourable for the Hawks, with the contested brand of footy probably better suited than the running game of Port Adelaide.

North Melbourne was no match for a polished Sydney last week, with the Swans entering Saturday’s Grand Final as favourites based on that performance.

But form in Grand Finals means little and it will be on on Saturday.


Recent history

The Hawks and Swans have met twice this season with both teams recording one win each.

The Swans got the better of the Hawks in Round 8 but Alastair Clarkson’s team hit back in Round 18, prevailing by 10 points.

Hawthorn has actually won three of the past five meeting between the two sides and by an average of 33 points.


More than goal kickers: Roughead v Franklin

They lead their team for goals kicked this season but Jarryd Roughead and Lance Franklin offer more to their respective teams than goals kicked off their own boot.

Roughead has booted 70 goals for the Hawks this season, while Franklin has booted 75 but the duo have also been involved in many more scores for their respective teams.

The duo actually also lead their teams this season for score involvements.

For the Hawks, Roughead tops the list with an average of nine score involvements per game, 2.5 of which come from when he’s working up into the midfield.

He’s also ranked fifth in the competition.

At Sydney, Franklin averages 9.6 per game, including 3.3 that have come from when he works up the ground.  He’s ranked fourth in the league in this area.


Who inflicts the most damage?

Aside from Roughead and Franklin who have kicked and been involved in the most scores from both teams, there are a number of other players who make their presence felt by setting up scores.

As well as kicking the second-most goals for the Hawks this year, Luke Breust was also ranked second in the league for goal assists this year with 30.

The dangerous small forward can push up through the midfield and run hard forward to make an impact even if he’s not kicking them himself.

Six behind Breust is Sydney co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, who has assisted on 24 goals this year to be ranked fourth in the competition.

Josh Kennedy is ranked second behind Franklin for total score involvements though and ranked seventh in the league with an average of 8.5 per game, so his value to Sydney is in more than his clearance winning and contested footy.

Luke Parker is also ranked in the top 10 in the league, averaging 7.7 score involvements per game.

Interestingly, it’s Nick Malceski who does the most damage off half-back, involved in 5.8 scores on average per game.

For the Hawks there’s little surprise Jordan Lewis is ranked second for score involvements at the club this year with an average of 8.0 per game. That means that of his 27.4 average disposals this year, just over one in three result in a Hawthorn score.

Grant Birchall is dangerous off half-back and not surprisingly, he contributes to many of Hawthorn’s scores, averaging 7.3 score involvements per game from 23.6 disposals.

Isaac Smith also averages 7.3 score involvements per game.


Gun forward lines go head-to-head

Hawthorn kicked more points than any other team this season, averaging 111.7 points per game compared to Sydney who were ranked fourth with 96.6.

The Swans conceded less points to their opposition this year though, with 67.6 to be ranked best in the league, the Hawks conceded 79.3 points per game.

While many teams in the league lack the talls in defence to stop Sydney’s forward line, the Hawks don’t have that problem.

Brian Lake will more than likely be given the job on Kurt Tippett and he’ll go in confident he can keep him quiet. Tippett had just nine disposals and kicked two goals in the Round 18 clash but was a non-factor as the Hawks overran the Swans.

Josh Gibson will get the tough job on Franklin and will take confidence from his second half against the former Hawk in Round 18 where he kept him quiet.

Then there’s Matt Spangher and Ben Stratton who will rotate on the likes of Adam Goodes and Sam Reid, so there’s options aplenty for the Hawks.

For Sydney, Ted Richards will more than likely get the job on Roughead, Heath Grundy likely for Jack Gunston and Nick Smith will definitely get the job on Breust.

Both defences will be tested too, with the Swans and Hawks ranked first and fourth respectively for average inside 50s per game.

Sydney averages 1.8 more inside 50s than Hawthorn (56.8-55) but the Hawks take more marks inside their attacking arc with 12.6 compared to 12.2.  


In the midfield

The Grand Final will be won and lost by the team that wins the midfield battle and particularly who wins the clearances and gets it going their way.

So far in the finals, the Hawks have performed better in the middle having smashed the Power 48-34 in the clearances last week, while Sydney have been beaten in that area in both games (34-41 against North Melbourne, 39-42 against Freo).

In the Round 18 clash between the sides, the clearances proved pivotal, with Hawthorn’s comeback stemming directly from that area.

At half time the Swans led the clearances 11-17, then had the first five clearances of the second half (11-22) to set up a 23-point lead.

From there, the Hawks switched on and dominated the midfield battle. The Swans had just 11 more clearances for the game from the five-minute mark of the third quarter.

The Hawks had 10 of the next 13 clearances of the third quarter and had 14 in the last term to Sydney’s eight to win the clearances 35-33.

In that game it was Sam Mitchell who led the way for the Hawks with six clearances from Lewis with five.

The duo are critical for the Hawks on Saturday given they are ranked one and two at the club for clearances this year with Lewis at number one with 5.7 and Mitchell at 5.1.

For Sydney on that night, Craig Bird led the way with seven clearances, which might be enough to see him not start as the sub this week like he has in the first two finals.

Interestingly, Sam Reid had six clearances while playing as a forward/ruck and Kieren Jack and Kennedy had four each.

Kennedy is the best ranked player on Saturday across the year for clearances, ranked seventh in the league with an average of 6.5 per game.

Second to him at Sydney this year has been Parker with 4.8, Daniel Hannebery with 4.3 and Jack with 4.0.