Office rivalries have been among those heating up this week, in the lead-up to the 2012 AFL Grand Final.
When the Swans and Hawks take to the hallowed MCG turf this Saturday, it will be the first time the two sides have met in a grand final.
Hawthorn were the pre-season flag favourites, but after winning only two of their first five games doubts were cast over whether the Hawks were the real deal.
What was perhaps overlooked was the difficulty of the opening to the season they faced, playing the five sides who eventually filled the top six positions on the ladder in the season’s first five weeks.
Sydney, on the other hand, won all five of their opening games, including a 37-point victory over the Hawks in round 5, cementing their place early as one of the competition’s top sides.
Both sides have enjoyed the taste of premiership success in recent times, Hawthorn getting the better of Geelong in 2008 and Sydney recording a famous four-point win over West Coast in 2005.
The last time the two sides met they played out a thrilling game at the SCG, with the match not decided until a brilliant running goal from Hawthorn midfielder Brad Sewell gave the Hawks a seven point lead with just a minute remaining, putting the game beyond doubt.
Saturday’s grand final has the potential to be a classic contest, with Hawthorn’s firepower and attacking flair matched with Sydney’s toughness and ‘no frills’ playing style.
Sydney midfielder Josh Kennedy, one of the week’s more interesting talking points playing against his former team, has averaged 32 disposals in his last three outings against Hawthorn, and will be a key providing a huge amount of grunt in the Swans’ engine room.
On the other side of the ledger, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin has kicked at least four goals against the Swans in all but one of their last five matchups, and will need to be at his brilliant best again to ensure a Hawks win.
With the weather looking cold and wet in Melbourne for ‘that one day in September’, the Hawks’ superior skills may give them a slight edge in a grand final where the slightest advantage could prove to be critical.
Hawthorn to win by 5 points, in a very memorable 2012 grand final.