Hawks smash Crows in AFL final

Hawthorn and captain Luke Hodge emphatically answered this week’s questions about where they stand in the AFL, brutalising Adelaide by 74 points in their semi-final.

Friday night’s record 21.9 (135) to 8.13 (61) mauling at the MCG puts the Hawks into a Perth preliminary final against Fremantle in a week and ends a season of high emotion for Adelaide.

It is Adelaide’s biggest finals loss.

While it was a dismal night for the Crows, they have earned universal respect since the tragic July 3 death of coach Phil Walsh.

They rallied to make the top eight and were outstanding last week to beat the Western Bulldogs in their elimination final.

Hodge was best afield, kicking four goals and collecting 24 disposals.

Hawthorn’s below-par loss last week to West Coast in their qualifying final meant growing speculation about whether a loss to Adelaide would mean the end of an era.

Hodge had also been the subject of media attention after his drink-driving embarrassment a fortnight ago and an average first half against the Eagles.

No-one was questioning club and captain after this performance.

Teammates such as Luke Breust, who kicked a career-best six goals, Isaac Smith and James Frawley also shone after poor games a week ago.

Ben Stratton kept Crows star Eddie Betts scoreless – the first time that has happened to the small forward since round 21, 2013, when he was still at Carlton.

As the Hawks kept their bid for three-straight premiership alive, the immediate question for the Crows is what happens to star onballer Patrick Dangerfield.

There has been rampant speculation all year that Dangerfield will head to Geelong as a free agent.

If this is his last game for the Crows, he made it count and was clearly their best player.

Hodge made an immediate statement, intercepting an Adelaide kickout and putting through the first goal of the game in the second minute.

A dubious free set up Josh Jenkins for the quick reply, before Dangerfield kicked an outstanding goal with a running check-side from the pocket at 14 minutes.

But other than that, it was all Hawthorn in the first term.

They monstered the Crows, kicking eight goals and taking a 38-point lead.

All the elements missing from Hawthorn’s game last week were back.

Uncontested possessions, such a key statistic for the way they play, belonged to the Hawks by a whopping 88-51.

Adelaide were under siege and Betts, last week’s five-goal elimination final hero, was without a statistic.

The first quarters from the two captains was also instructive.

Hodge kicked two goals and was one of the best afield with 10 possessions.

Adelaide captain Taylor Walker, one of the best players in the opening week of the finals, had just two disposals.

After Hawthorn extended the lead to 50 points with two early goals, Adelaide steadied in the second term and started putting more heat on their opponents.

But Hawthorn remained in control with a 45-point lead at the main break.

Dangerfield was the shining exception for Adelaide in a tough first half – he had the most possessions (21), contested possessions (11) and clearances (eight) .

The second half was a procession, with the Hawks doing what was needed to keep the game safe.

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