Kangas through to preliminary final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kangas through to preliminary final

By Adam Cooper 16/09/2007 12:25:42 AM Comments (0)

The Kangaroos completed a superb transformation, bouncing into the AFL preliminary finals after beating Hawthorn by 33 points in the first semi-final at the MCG.

The Roos continued their season-long knack of defying the doubters by winning 14.9 (93) to 8.12 (60) less than a week after being embarrassed by Geelong by 106 points in the qualifying final, and now sit among the final four.

It was the club's first victory in a final since 2000 and put them in next Saturday's preliminary final against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.

Aaron Edwards, playing in the VFL this time a year ago, covered for the absence of the injured Corey Jones by booting four goals and taking a contender for mark of the year, while several other unheralded Kangaroos were excellent.

Brady Rawlings kept Hawk danger man Luke Hodge to eight touches and got 21 disposals himself, Josh Gibson did a good job on Lance Franklin despite the Hawk's three goals, and Daniel Harris worked hard in the centre square.

Veterans Brent Harvey and Glenn Archer also played their part after poor games against Geelong, the former by booting four second-half goals after a quiet start and upsetting a host of Hawks and the other by regularly cleaning up in defence.

The win means Archer will extend his career by at least another game, however it was the end of the line for Hawthorn skipper Richie Vandenberg, who led his side off to a warm reception from the crowd of 74,981.

The Kangaroos set the early pace through two goals to Edwards and led by eight points at the first two breaks, before dousing several Hawk charges in the second half through their better ball use amid a tight game and their ability to exert great pressure on their opponents.

Hawthorn twice got close during the third term, but the Kangaroos held firm and landed two big blows, albeit with the aid of umpiring decisions.

First Edwards goaled after Trent Croad was penalised for chopping the arm and then Harvey slotted a goal just before the final change after Joel Smith gave away a 50-metre penalty with a late push.

Franklin reduced the margin to 11 points inside the first 30 seconds of the final quarter when he soccered a goal, but Harvey got under the skin of the Hawks again, firstly through a free kick and then with a brilliant snap which sealed the win.

Harvey, who later booted a third for the final quarter, is likely to come under match review scrutiny for a clash with Michael Osborne, although Hawthorn's Jordan Lewis is likely to be cited for making high contact on Harvey.

Lewis and Brad Sewell were among Hawthorn's better players, but the Hawks lacked the spark which carried them to a three-point win over Adelaide in last week's elimination final, especially with Franklin and Jarryd Roughead kept to a combined four goals and centre Sam Mitchell also down.

Completing a dirty night for Hawthorn, Brownlow medallist Shane Crawford was reported for striking Harris after connecting with an arm to the head late in the third quarter.

Kangaroos coach Dean Laidley was proud of the way his players responded after the thrashing from Geelong.

"It was very pleasing, we were under siege all of us all week and we sat down and had a heart to heart on Monday and planned our week, and to the boys' credit, jeez they were ferocious tonight and I was pretty pleased with that," he said.

Laidley said he noticed how much more relaxed his players had been during the build-up and through the game.

He described next week's clash against Port as a wonderful opportunity given the way the season began, when Nathan Thompson injured his knee and the club lost its first three games.

"If you had of said to us when we started on the 14th of October (last year) that we would play Hawthorn and have the chance to play in a preliminary final against Port Adelaide ... all you people would have fallen off your chairs and we would of as well," he said.

"But we've worked really, really hard and it's a great opportunity, so we'll be going 100 miles an hour."

The Kangaroos will be without Jones for the rest of their campaign, as he is due to undergo foot surgery.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said the defeat had shown the Hawks did not yet belong in the top echelon.

"It tells us about where we are as a footy club, it is a realisation that we are not quite a top four side as yet," he said.

"The Kangaroos are a very proud club and they showed us the right way to play finals footy tonight.

"We are just disappointed that we've dropped out of the race at this point in time and we need to be hungrier and more desperate to give ourselves a chance to get there some point in the next few years."

Vandenberg said retirement had yet to sink in, but he predicted an exciting future for his young teammates.

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