Sport AFL It’s Hawthorn vs West Coast – we pick the winner

It’s Hawthorn vs West Coast – we pick the winner

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Hawthorn and West Coast will square off in the 2015 AFL Grand Final, after the Eagles defeated North Melbourne by 25 points on Saturday night.

The Grand Final appearance caps off a dream season for West Coast coach Adam Simpson, whose side were widely tipped to struggle when key defenders Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown went down with serious knee injuries early in the year.

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But the Eagles have kept on confounding the critics and are now the only side standing between Hawthorn and a slice of history.

Jarryd Roughead looked to getting back in form against Fremantle. Photo: Getty
Jarryd Roughead looked to getting back in form against Fremantle. Photo: Getty

Alastair Clarkson’s side are gunning to win three premierships in succession, a feat that has only been achieved by three other clubs.

Given the game is being played at the MCG, Hawthorn should start slight favourites, but in an interesting twist it is Hawthorn who have spent the greater time in the air lately – having made two trips to Perth already this finals series.

By contrast, the Eagles haven’t been on a plane since their round 22 trip to Adelaide, and enjoyed a week off after accounting for the Hawks in week one of the finals.

A few Hawks looked sore and sorry during their preliminary final win over Fremantle – with captain Luke Hodge and goalsneak Luke Breust seeming worse for wear at times on Friday night.

The Eagles, meanwhile, should head in as close to full strength as they can be without Brown and Mackenzie.

Nic Naitanui and Callum Sinclair will be crucial in the ruck against David Hale and Ben McEvoy, should both play, and those contests will go a long way toward shaping the final result.

Both Andrew Gaff and Luke Shuey were below their brilliant best against North Melbourne and will be looking to respond in the Grand Final.

Gaff and Shuey are crucial in getting enough supply to the forward artillery of Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling, Mark LeCras and Josh Hill.

The electric Cyril Rioli and Jarryd Roughead will be key for Hawthorn – both men were subpar the last time they encountered the Eagles and will be looking to get back to their absolute best on the biggest stage of all.

And the battle of the coaches will be an interesting sub plot to the Grand Final.

Simpson is in just his second year of senior coaching after a fruitful spell as an assistant under Clarkson – can the apprentice get one over his old master?

Our feeling is that the Hawks battle-hardened and experienced bodies will be too much for the young West Coast side.

Prediction: Hawthorn by 16 points

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