Clubs believe bravery will win AFL flag - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clubs believe bravery will win AFL flag

By Guy Hand 26/09/2008 07:53:25 PM Comments (0)

As they prepare to reprise a classic grand final in which blood was spilled and legends were made, Hawthorn and Geelong say bravery rather than brutality will decide who wins Saturday's AFL premiership decider.

Both Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson and Cats counterpart Mark Thompson are playing down the chance of any fireworks like those which sparked the 1989 grand final between the two clubs into an explosive all-time classic.

Geelong hardman Mark Yeates' infamous hit on Hawthorn's Dermott Brereton at the centre bounce that year left the Hawks forward winded, concussed and vomiting and set the tone for Hawthorn's six-point win.

The current Hawks' reputation for uncompromising football, and Geelong's proven ability to deal effectively with such tactics, have prompted plenty of pre-match speculation that Saturday's match at the MCG will mimic 1989.

But Clarkson said the team that would win the match was the one that put their heads over the football first, rather than trying to remove those of their opponents.

"We're not going to win the game of footy by fighting. We're going to win the game of footy by winning the hard ball and trying to get a score on the scoreboard," Clarkson said.

"I'd be very surprised, despite all the speculation about 1989, if both sides didn't settle pretty quickly tomorrow and get down to what they do best - play good, tough, hard footy.

"We have to settle and focus on the ball as quick as we possibly can. We don't need to be giving a side like Geelong any head-starts."

With Geelong winning 42 of their past 44 matches and a juggernaut seemingly destined for back-to-back premierships, teams have attempted to unsettle the Cats using roughhouse tactics this season - most notably Port Adelaide and Fremantle.

Both times they backfired spectacularly, with the Cats rising to the challenge for comfortable wins to show they have the hardness to go with their undisputed talent.

Thompson said his side's ability to play quality football under physical pressure would have shown the rest of the competition such tactics were not worth trying.

"We're pretty proud of the way we go about our football," Thompson said.

"Generally speaking, I think we're respected for the type of footy we've been playing."

The two best teams in the competition have only met once this season in July, with a weakened Geelong winning by 11 points.

But the Cats have included three of their stars missing for that match - Gary Ablett, Cameron Ling and Darren Milburn.

While star Cats forward Paul Chapman has been included for his first match in three weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury, Hawthorn star Luke Hodge may come in for some extra attention early on as Geelong look to test his suspect ribs.

Hodge appeared to injure his ribs and coughed up blood after a heavy collision in last weekend's preliminary final, but has declared he is not carrying any ill-effects from the incident.

The wild card is likely to be the AFL's most exciting player - Hawthorn forward Lance Franklin - who was kept quiet in last weekend's preliminary final but is capable of kicking a bagful given the big stage.

The Cats are overwhelming favourites with bookmakers at around $1.45 to Hawthorn's $2.90.

A crowd of close to 100,000 is expected for the first all-Victorian AFL grand final in eight years.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a mostly fine grand final day for Melbourne, with a maximum temperature of 26 degrees but the prospect of late rain.

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