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Close matchup as Hawks, Swans clash for AFL title

AFL: There are 100,000 football fans ready to descend upon the Melbourne Cricket Ground this weekend, ready to watch the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn Hawks duke it out in the 2012 AFL Grand Final.

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Friday 28 September 2012, 01:38PM

The AFL Grand Final takes place Saturday, September 29, at 11:30 AM

The AFL Grand Final takes place Saturday, September 29, at 11:30 AM

Both teams split the series in the premiership season, with neither team particularly impressive during their respective wins. The Hawks were the pre-season favourites to win it all after narrowly losing the preliminary final against Collingwood last year.

For Sydney, young forward Sam Reid will have to step up like he did in the preliminary final against Collingwood. The 20-year-old forward is an unconventional player whose skill set in evading Hawks’ Josh Gibson will be key.

"We can't let the (Hawthorn) defence get what they want," Reid told The Herald Sun last week, "We can't have (Gibson) running around free and making those spoils. We need to lock him away.”

Hawks captain Luke Hodge is expected to play this game after sitting out the preliminary final last week with stomach problems. After narrowly defeating Adelaide by five points to get to the Grand Final, Hodge’s return should energise the squad.

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On the Swan’s side, they will look to avenge their early exit in the premier semi-finals last season where the Hawks put on a clinic against them.

Sydney has historically been dreadful at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, having won once out of their last 15 trips to the stadium. Though their defeat against Collingwood last week was the first in 2005, the Swan’s will look to continue their record-breaking ways.

Hawthorn has been strong all season after a slow start that saw them lose three out of their first five games. They won out all but two of the rest of their games, including a narrow defeat of Sydney in the penultimate game of the season.

The key to this game will be between the Hawthorn forward half, boasting superstars Jack Gunston, Lance Franklin, and Cyril Rioli, and Sydney’s defence with Ted Richards, Heath Grundy, and Rhyce Shaw.



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