Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews says a lack of composure led to the Hawks blowing their AFL premiership chance.
Clear pre-game favourites, Hawthorn dominated clearances and attacking entries and had more scoring shots, yet Sydney won Saturday’s grand final 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81).
Matthews, an eight-time Hawthorn best and fairest and four-time premiership player, says the Swans applied fierce pressure, highlighted by a remarkable 109 tackles, but even when Hawthorn players had time and space they looked rushed.
“Composure with the ball under the physical and mental pressure of the game, the Swans had it for more of the game than Hawthorn,” Matthews said on the Seven Network’s AFL Game Day yesterday.
“That’s why I thought that Hawthorn blew it.
“I thought they just had very little composure going into their forward line and very little composure when they were generating their shots.”
Coach Alastair Clarkson admitted the minor premiers didn’t produce their best, either in the grand final or the previous weekend’s narrow preliminary final win over Adelaide.
But he, club president Andrew Newbold and the players said they would quickly turn their focus to winning next year’s flag.
“We were a little bit below our best form,” Clarkson told supporters at a function at Glenferrie Oval yesterday.
“Know full well we can’t dwell on this for too long ... our focus is on 2013 and how we can go one better.”
Newbold noted that the Hawks’ most recent grand final loss was followed by three premierships in four years.
“We’re a proud club, we’ll reload and come back,” the president said.
“The last time we lost a grand final in 1987, the two years after that we saluted both times. That’s what we’ll be seeking to do.”
But Matthews said statistics suggested they should have won this one.
“If you dominate the clearances like Hawthorn did, particularly the centre clearances 19-5, therefore you dominate with the ball in attack, you should win the game,” Matthews said.