Hawthorn wins AFL minor premiership
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Hawthorn clinched top spot heading into next week’s AFL finals by beating Sydney in the final home-and-away round, but has been left to sweat on the availability of star forward Lance Franklin, who has been reported for a high hit.
The make-up of the top eight was settled when Carlton staged a remarkable comeback from 39 points down to win by a point at Port Adelaide and claim eighth spot.
The Blues will play Richmond on Sunday in one of two sudden-death elimination finals, with the other seeing Collingwood host Port.
Hawthorn will meet Sydney for the second week running — this time with home advantage — in one of the qualifying finals, while Geelong will play Fremantle in the other. In a contentious scheduling decision the AFL awarded the game to Geelong’s own boutique ground, rather than in the bigger Melbourne stadiums where the Cats have played all their previous home finals.
Hawthorn kicked six goals to three in the fourth quarter to beat Sydney 17.10 (112) to 16.4 (100), but most interest centered on powerful forward Franklin, who laid a late, head-high bump on Swans defender Nick Malceski. The contact will be looked at by the match review panel to determine what charge he will face, and he will likely be called to face the tribunal this week to determine when, or if, he will play again this season.
“What can you say? He’s been reported. We’ve just got to let the authorities deal with that and see what happens,” Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said. “Those sort of things happen in games of footy. We’ll just see what the Match Review Panel deem it to be. We’ve won games of footy without him, so we’ll do that again.”
Jarryd Roughhead kicked four goals for Hawthorn to seal his first Coleman Medal as the league’s leading goalscorer.
Geelong edged a gallant Brisbane 15.22 (112) to 17.9 (111) on Saturday to clinch second place and to simultaneously snuff out the Lions’ finals hopes.
The decision to award Geelong a home final at their 34,000-seat Simonds Stadium came despite Fremantle’s vehement protests. Last year’s elimination final between Geelong and Fremantle attracted a crowd of 44,460 to the MCG but AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the decision to award the match to Geelong and not the larger Etihad Stadium was correct.
“Based on all our calculations and all the historical information we think that game would’ve got 28,000 to 30,000 at Etihad Stadium,” Demetriou said. “On that basis we felt it was important to play at Simonds Stadium where you’ve got a capacity of 33,000 and we expect that game to sell out.”
Fremantle president Steve Harris attacked the venue decision in a strongly-worded statement.
“It is inconceivable that a venue such as Simonds Stadium, with a capacity of 33,500 would be considered for a game that is likely to attract 40,000 to 50,000 people, including several thousand people from Perth who would travel to Melbourne to see the game,” he said.
Richmond moved up to fifth place with a 15.14 (104) to 9.11 (65) win over Essendon who this week were fined $2 million and banned from the finals series over their 2012 supplements program. Coach James Hird was suspended for one year for his part in the program in which players were injected with experimental drugs and supplements.
Carlton staged a remarkable late rally, coming from 39 points down midway through the third quarter, to edge Port Adelaide by a point, 15.14 (104) to 15.13 (103), to claim eighth place and the last spot in the finals.
In other results, St. Kilda easily beat a second-string Fremantle, Adelaide won comfortably at West Coast, Gold Coast finished its season with a big victory over wooden spoon team Greater Western Sydney, North Melbourne ended a frustrating campaign by beating Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs strolled to victory over Melbourne.