Alastair Clarkson’s Hawthorn have confirmed their AFL greatness with a 46-point grand final mauling of West Coast on Saturday at the MCG.
The 16.11 (107) to 8.13 (61) thrashing made the Hawks the first team since Brisbane in 2001-03 to win three straight premierships.
It is only the sixth threepeat in AFL history and Hawthorn now have won 13 premierships.
Clarkson is also the first four-time Hawthorn premiership coach, after they also upset Geelong in the 2008 grand final.
Hawks small forward Cyril Rioli was outstanding, harassing the Eagles’ defenders and kicking two first-quarter goals.
Captain Luke Hodge, fellow midfielder Sam Mitchell and defenders Brian Lake and James Frawley also starred.
Returning from two games out with an ankle injury, Hawks forward Jack Gunston kicked four goals.
It was the hottest grand final in history, with the high of 31.3 degrees topping the 30.7 in 1987.
That was tipped to be a factor in favour of the Eagles, but they could not handle the heat that Hawthorn generated with their relentless pressure.
Hawthorn are the oldest premiership team and they won this one the hard way, playing four finals and making two trips to Perth.
The last team to win the flag after playing four finals was West Coast’s last premiership in 2006.
Six Hawks players are now four-time premiership players.
While the Hawks were ruthlessly efficient, the Eagles were too often hesitant and sloppy with their ball use.
Eagles stars Matt Priddis had one of the worst games of his career, as did Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy.
The win makes Clarkson only the 12th four-time AFL premiership coach.
He surpasses revered Hawks figures Allan Jeans – who also coached a flag at St Kilda – and John Kennedy Snr.
After Luke Shuey kicked the first goal of the game, Hawthorn kicked the next five and had a 19-point lead at the first break.
Worryingly for the Eagles, they had kicked a wasteful 1.5 and their scoring inaccuracy was another key factor when the game was still in the balance.
At the start of the second, Hawks skipper Hodge snapped a freakish goal.
A couple of minutes later, his Eagles counterpart Shannon Hurn had a straightforward set shot from straight in front.
He missed and, moments later, Gunston kicked a goal for the Hawks.
It was a potent symbol of how the game was going.
Hawthorn extended their lead to 44 points before West Coast rallied with the last two goals of the half, including a booming shot from Elliot Yeo after the siren.
The margin was a gettable 31 points and, when Jack Darling kicked the first goal of the third term, it was only 24 points and game on.
Then came two critical errors – Shuey’s pass inside 50 went straight to Taylor Duryea when there were options everywhere.
And Darling dropped a simple mark within scoring range.
Hawthorn rebounded and Ryan Schoenmakers kicked a goal that relieved plenty of pressure.
After Mark Hutchings kept it tight with a snapped goal, two to Gunston broke the rubber band.
The second of those Gunston goals was courtesy of Rioli’s stunning handball intercept.
By three-quarter time, the margin was 50 points and the game was over.
Rioli won the North Smith Medal as best afield.
Hodge, now a four-time premiership player, said it was impossible to describe the feeling at the final siren.
Saturday was unrecognisable from three weeks ago, when West Coast dismantled the Hawks in a Perth qualifying final.
“We’ve had a few ups and downs this year, but the way the boys played and the intensity we’ve had over the past three games … I’m lost for words,” Hodge said.
Clarkson thanked his assistant coaches, noting the adversity they had this season.
Brett Ratten lost his son in a car accident and Brendon Bolton left before the finals to become Carlton’s new senior coach.
Clarkson added he could not be more proud of his players.
“They’re a very, very special band of boys, we’ve made a real special part of our history with their efforts throughout the course of this year, but particularly today,” he said.
Clarkson and Hodge also paid tribute to the club’s 72,924 members.
The Hawks captain said they had endured an up-and-down season.
“But to continually stand up in big occasions, I’m absolutely rapt – well done fellas,” he said.
Clarkson and Hodge also offered their commiserations to the Eagles and their coach Adam Simpson, who two years ago was an assistant coach at the Hawks.