2012 AFL Grand Final: Hawthorn Hawks Vs. Sydney Swans
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Saturday, September 29, 12:30 am EDT (2:30 pm local time)

After what has been a bittersweet 2012 AFL Finals after the death of Port Adelaide midfielder John McCarthy, Hawthorn and Sydney are ready to battle for the Premiership.  History will be made on the oval, when goal umpire Chelsea Roffey becomes the first female to officiate at the Grand Final.

Both Sydney and Hawthorn were expected to succeed in 2012, with Saturday’s game being a rematch of 2011’s second round playoff where the Hawks beat the Swans.  This year, the two teams split their home and away series.  In the preliminary finals last week, Sydney defeated 2011 Grand Finalist Collingwood, 96-70.  Meanwhile, Hawthorn edged the Cinderella team of the Finals, the Adelaide Crows, 97-92.

Hawthorn is led by the one-two punch of Luke “The General” Hodge and Lance “Buddy” Franklin.  Franklin, a prolific goal scorer, although an off year this season was exacerbated by injuries. Meanwhile, a major Grand Final storyline involves Hawthorn captain Hodge, who was out during the playoffs due to a gastroenterological problem, and whose replacement, Tom Murphy played admirably in his stead.  Unfortunately, Murphy was removed from the Grand Final roster and made an emergency replacement, which also happened to him when Hawthorn won the Premiership in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Swans are looking for their second Premiership since moving from South Melbourne in the early 1980’s.  Adam Goodes has been a constant for the Swans in their recent run of success, playing almost every game for them since 2003.  Mitch Morton, Richmond’s leading goal scorer in 2009, is now a defensive specialist for Sydney.

The Australian Football League Grand Final is Oceania’s equivalent to the Super Bowl, with even North Americans getting into the spirit by holding parties across the U.S. and Canada.  Yesterday’s Grand Final Parade attracted thousands who crowded the streets of Melbourne.  In 2011, Meat Loaf performed during halftime, whereas this year’s honors go to the Australian post-punk band The Temper Trap.

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