Ah, September. Any footy fan’s favourite time of the year. All year, players, coaches, and fans alike pray that their side has what it takes to make a finals berth. Well, there’s no denying that the Men’s Seniors side has had an impressive season so far. However, there is one final game to conquer if they are to stick the landing. Elsternwick. In a grand final battle between the top two, there are a million tiny moments in which the match can be decided. And so, to ease the hearts who bleed brown and gold, and to get the runway well and truly ready for this flight to land, here are the four key things to watch this Saturday.
1. BOTH SIDES' SCORING POWER
Now, it's no secret that Hawthorn’s forwards are able to put on a show and go home with their luggage full of goals. But, Elsternwick’s forwards are also more than capable of impressive scores themselves. The sides combine for four of the five top goal scorers for Season 2023. However, with the top two goal scorers being at home in the brown and gold, any fans of a classic power forward should look towards Hawthorn’s end. This firepower for both sides sets up an enticing clash that is sure to be, if the big forwards have their way on the day, a high scoring affair.
2. PROACTIVE DEFENCE
There’s a classic old phrase that anyone who has ever played junior basketball will know; “Defence wins championships,” and while, in this sport, they are called premierships, the message rings true. Sides who can defend well put the rest of their sides in good stead. Over the year, Hawthorn’s defence has been given many names; “The Great Wall of Hawthorn”, namely (this writer has always had a penchant for dramatics), and during the finals, this name has rung truer than ever before. The Hawks play an offensive brand of defence that takes risks and pushes the ball up to remain at high half forward. This proactive nature will put the Hawks in good stead against any opponent but especially this week, against an equally skilled side.
3. THE MIDFIELD BATTLE
Once again, Hawthorn and Elsternwick promise a tense, even encounter when two of the best midfields in Division 3 Men's go head-to-head. The game - literally and figuratively - starts in the middle, and the clearance battle may well shape the match. If Hawthorn are able to get their hands first to the footy and make the most of their ability to spread and carry with speed, they will provide their forwards with silver service into the fifty. Both sides have impressed in this area all season, so it’ll really be a game of inches to see who emerges victorious on Saturday.
4. PRESSURE PRESSURE PRESSURE
The final part of the game that will be key to Saturday is the Hawks’ pressure. Senior Coach Mark Murray has emphasised the importance of pressure and intent all throughout the season and it is all the more important in a Grand Final. The difference between the big dance and the home and away season is staggering, and the best way to adjust is to work hard, pressure the opposition, and be prepared for the pressure to come.
So there we have it, laid out in simple terms, four key aspects of the game to watch out for. Join us in supporting our club at Box Hill City Oval, 2:30 pm this Saturday. Hawks Airlines have flown all year, through turbulence, storms, and clear skies, and are now preparing their final landing. Are your seatbelts fastened? Are your trays in the upright position? I told you I predicted an impressive journey from this side, and here we are. Clear the runway, and hold on tight.