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Can the desperate Hawks thwart the Purple Haze?

It’s the battle of the AFL’s best attacking team versus the competition’s most miserly defence.

The Hawks have scored more than any other club this season and averaged 22 points per game more than the Dockers during the home and away season.

But the Dockers have clearly the best defensive record and the way they stifled the Swans in their preliminary final last Saturday night has persuaded plenty of observers they are capable of upsetting the Hawks, who have long been premiership favourites.

Memories of last year – when the Hawks were also the season’s best attacking team and grand final favourites, but lost to a Swans side who had been the competition’s best defensively – play into that thinking.

Both clubs are near full strength.

The only team change made by either side from the preliminary finals was the Hawks’ loss of Brendan Whitecross, the sub last weekend, to a serious knee injury.

Jonathan Simpkin, best afield for the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL grand final last Sunday, is his replacement.

Grand final nerves could play a part for both sides.

The Hawks let themselves down with poor kicking in last year’s grand final and were again shaky on that front in their narrow preliminary final win over the Cats.

While the Hawks carry the burden of expectation, the Dockers have to deal with having just two players – Zac Dawson and Danyle Pearce – who have grand final experience.

Both sides are strong everywhere, but on paper the Hawks could have an edge in attack.

Hawks star forwards Lance Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and Cyril Rioli were all quiet in their club’s preliminary final though.

The Dockers are unlikely to allow them many easy scoring chances, so they must seize their opportunities.

This match does mirror the 2001 premiership decider.

Back then, the Bombers, who were the defending premiers, snuck by the Hawks in a controversial preliminary final at the MCG.

Meanwhile, the Lions, who ended the year with a wet sail, obliterated the Tigers at the Gabba.

Like the Bombers 12 years ago, the Hawks battled their way to victory over the Cats.

The Dockers, who have timed their run superbly, have been outstanding during the second half of the 2013 season and wiped the floor with the Swans last weekend.

Like the Hawks-Swans grand final last year, the Hawks-Dockers encounter is yet another evenly matched affair and it’s difficult to split both teams with confidence.






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