Grand Final Talking Points

If you knew this was how you’d claim a premiership, you’d take it every day of the week.

It’s been a September that’ll enter VFL folklore, as the sixth-placed Hawks became the first team since the introduction of the final eight to capture the flag from outside of the top four.

Epics against Port Melbourne and Williamstown bookended a comparatively comfortable, but no less nerve-jangling, semi-final triumph against old foe Geelong, with each victory providing moments that’ll re-told and re-lived at City Oval for generations to come.

Every premiership success is special, but this one feels especially so.

Mere seconds and fine margins defined the Hawks’ path to the Grand Final – with the Chris Newman and his men playing against the clock as much as their opponents – and so it was again on the big day.

Here are but a few of the key talking points from Grand Final day.


Casey were exceptional from the off and controlled proceedings for the majority of the first quarter, with the opening four majors of the day coming from the boot of players in red and blue.

It wasn’t until the 24 minute mark when Jackson Ross found himself on the end of a passage of play started by the dashing Changkuoth Jiath and well within range, CJ’s dare and dash creating something when nothing looked more likely.

His kick was true and the Hawks were on their way.

The second term was expectedly cagey and despite the Brown and Gold’s best efforts they’d ceded more ground as the term ticked towards it’s conclusion.

The defensive unit was hanging in the contest, with Tim O’Brien and Kaiden Brand ably supported by the likes of Will Hams, Teia Miles and Conor Glass on or across the last line.

A touch further afield it was Andrew Moore, Brendan Whitecross, Mitch O’Donnell, Brayden Kilpatrick and Anthony Brolic plugging gaps when and where they could to hold onto the coattails of a Casey outfit threatening to wriggle away.

When Dylan Moore was taken high 45 meters from goal on a worse than 45 degree angle it felt more important than a kick prior to half-time ought to. But the Demons had a 23-point lead. And for all the Hawks’ hard work they’d managed only the two goals. Then the siren sounded.

We shouldn’t have worried, there was no need. Moore went back and gave his team the perfect tonic entering the long break.


Moments decide matches. Sometimes they come early, sometimes they come as late as possible.

If hanging in was a first-half theme, cashing in was a second-half imperative; especially after Jay Lockhart opened the scoring just two-and-a-half minutes into the second half.

Mitch Lewis answered, before Dallas Willsmore added another. Pederson got one back for the Demons, before Chris Jones provided the most important one-percenter of the game thus far, a little knock that found Hanrahan and lead to a goal.

Typically, Casey kicked the next, before Tim O’Brien – who had traded places with David Mirra at half time – rose well, marked well and nailed his set shot.

That shuffling of the pack wasn’t in the script, but the sign of a good coaching group is a willingness to be adaptable and proactive, and the move of Mirra back, O’Brien forward added an aerial threat up forward and a stability down back.

Mirra’s interception on centre-wing, in which he recognised the switch and pounced to cut it off, stopping what would’ve certainly been a Casey score, was a highlight of the day.

In the final term it was Jones in the thick of it again, his wonderful desperation on the deck teeing up the captain, Andrew Moore, to get the Hawks within a kick.

The cleanest hitout to advantage you’re likely to see saw Pittonet feed Lovell, who ran through the fifty and handed Box Hill it’s first lead of the afternoon with 13 final quarter minutes played.

Dylan Moore added another, his third, to take his tally in the last two weeks to seven and hand the Hawks 10 of the last 14, before then the real, game-deciding moments took centre stage: tackles, bumpers, smother – effort after effort after effort to deny the Demons a final go at it.

Brendan Whitecross effected an enormous smother just moments before a run down tackle on the wing. The veteran was absolutely huge in the final term. Anthony Brolic, likewise, chopped off a Casey kick that was bound for the top of their attacking goal square.

One of the starkest statistics of the day was that the terrific Will Hams’ 19 disposals were a team-high.

Moments, big or small, decide matches. The when and the how mean more than the how many.


The players might’ve been confused upon walking into the rooms for the first time, with 34 guernseys hung against the caged wall to their left.

They were representative of the 34 teammates who played during the season but not on that day; It was to remind the 23 selected of their place as part of a bigger machine.

It wasn’t that their opportunity was at the expense of a mate, but their performance ought to be in tribute to those who’d have done just about anything to be out there.

Teams – and by that we mean the collective of everyone on and off-field – attain the greatest success when they work together seamlessly and selflessly.

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