In front of 78,000 rabid Melbourne fans, the MCG featured another fantastic game as Hawthorn got the better of Collingwood 137-115.
It was a tight up and down game with a finals atmosphere featuring two teams heavily favoured to compete for the 2012 premiership and they didn’t disappoint.
Forward line superstars Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli both missed early scoring chances leaving it to Grant Birchall (28 disposals) to kick the opening goal with a thumping ball from 55 meters.
The Pies had their chances to steal the momentum but missed seven first quarter set shots on goal. Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes missed two each, one from Dawes directly in front that he should have made easily. The Pies finally got a breakthrough when a Hawks turnover allowed Heath Shaw to kick a goal in a low-scoring and brutal first quarter.
Shane Savage kicked the game’s third goal after winning a one-on-one contest 10 meters out, but the Pies responded courtesy of Jarryd Blair who marked uncontested on the right side of goal.
What was a relatively quiet first quarter turned into a goal fest in the second. Rioli took a contender for Mark of the Year on the shoulders of a Hawk defender and set up goal for Brendan Whitecross.
The Pies kicked the next two to take a 12 point lead. Brownlow medalist Dane Swan responded to the Whitecross goal just a minute later with a running goal from 50 and Cloke used his strength to also mark and goal.
The Hawks retook the lead when the lightening quick Rioli out ran his much taller opponent, Harry O’Brien, to complete an exciting goal before Franklin managed his first from a free kick.
A goal to Darren Jolly cut the lead back before a crazy four minute, five goal span erupted. Rioli split a few defenders, faked a handball and goaled from 30 and first gamer Broc McCauley added another. Fasolo responded, creating a goal from nothing then took a spectacular mark and assisted another for Cloke, giving Collingwood the lead.
It didn’t last long. Franklin shrugged of a would be tackler and ignored another as he kicked truly running left along the 50 meter mark. Lewis and Smith would then score again for the Hawks in the final two and half minutes of the quarter to give the side a 66-51 lead.
The third quarter started in similar fashion with three goals being scored in the opening three minutes. Scott Pendlebury (33 disposals) marked and goaled 40 seconds in before the Hawks kicked two ridiculous straight goals , one from Brad Sewell who converted a difficult shot from the boundary and the other to Shaun Burgoyne who hoisted a long ball from about 70 meters that sailed over a marking contest and dribbled through the goal.
A major to Cloke stopped Hawthorn running away with the game but three gettable misses from Sidebottom and Rounds halted a possible comeback. Jackson Paine finally got one to go through and suddenly the Hawks lead was back to just two goals.
Cloke added another and Sidebottom almost tied the game with a ridiculous mid-air soccer attempt over his head that just missed. The Hawks ran the other way after the miss and Buddy kicked a quick goal.
Matt Suckling committed an awful turnover with a mongrel kick in the back half which allowed Blair to kick his second before the quarter ended, reducing the deficit to just five points heading into the final term.
Buddy opened the fourth with an amazing goal, faking out a defender, running off the boundary line and kicking it from a tight angle.
Desperate to stay in the game, Collingwood got a goal back from Jolly who found himself loose running inside 50. Blair kicked his third two minutes later when he snatched a loose ball in the square. Finally, the Pies took a 101-100 lead when Cloke saved a ball at the boundary line and fed Daisy Thomas who dribbled the ball through a couple of defenders.
However, the Pies lost their grip on the game and allowed Hawthorn to run a goal shooting clinic over the final 12 minutes of the game. Savage booted the leather off the ball from beyond 50 to retake the lead before goals to Franklin, substitute Gunston and then Osborne all but sealed the victory.
Sam Mitchell was influential in the midfield while Franklin and Rioli (seven combined goals) were both brilliant up forward. Suckling and Sewell won a lot of the ball for a Hawks team that featured six multiple goal kickers.
Superstar midfield duo Pendlebury (two goals) and Swan combined for 64 touches but too many missed scoring opportunities hurt the Pies in a winnable game they let go.