AFL GRAND FINAL HEROES & GOATS: Rioli and Roughead have games to forget, Goodes fires for Sydney
Ryan O'Keefe (Sydney)
O'Keefe, the 2012 Norm Smith medallist, was at his industrious best all afternoon at the MCG, gathering 28 disposals and seven clearances and laying an astonishing 15 tackles. The veteran midfielder also quelled the influence of Hawks gun Sam Mitchell, who had a big opening term but struggled to impact the game in the next three quarters. O'Keefe was instrumental in the Swans' six-goal second term but saved his best for last, gathering eight touches, popping up all over the ground and going in hard at the footy as Sydney put the squeeze on and wrested the game away from the Hawks in the fourth. At 31 years of age he is the oldest Norm Smith winner since Greg 'Diesel' Williams in 1995.
Brad Sewell (Hawthorn)
Sewell would probably have won the Norm Smith had the Hawks pinched the flag in the dying minutes, and the recognition would have been thoroughly deserved. In fact, even with the loss he had a case for the medal. The underrated midfielder worked tirelessly all day and was Hawthorn's best on ground, picking up 33 disposals, including 19 contested possessions, 11 clearances, six inside-50s, 11 tackles and six score involvements. In a grand final, those are epic numbers. The only blemish on Sewell's game was a missed snap for goal that would have levelled the scores late in the final term, and though he will beat himself up for it he doesn't wear the blame for Hawthorn's loss.
Adam Goodes (Sydney)
Goodes, reportedly playing with a posterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee sustained in the second term, showed the true signs of a champion by producing when his side needed it most. A menace all day, he had a hand in a number of the Swans' goals, but it was his goal in the dying stages that was his most telling contribution to the match. With the Swans only leading by a point, they needed a play to break Hawthorn's spirit. Enter Goodes. He came up with a snap that snuck into goal on the bounce, giving his team a seven-point advantage and some welcome breathing space. He joins Jude Bolton, O'Keefe and Lewis Roberts-Thomson as the Swans to play in both the 2005 and 2012 premierships.
Mike Pyke (Sydney)
After his performance in the grand final, we can stop referring to Mike Pyke as an "ex-Canada rugby union international". He is now an AFL footballer, and a handy one at that. The 200cm ruckman was fingered as a possible late out in the event of wet weather but kept his spot in the side, for reasons that became clear once the game got underway. Sydney's No.1 big man Shane Mumford was obviously crocked with a hamstring injury, meaning Pyke would have to shoulder most of the load in the biggest game of his life. The Canadian performed admirably, amassing 29 hitouts, 16 disposals and six marks (three contested) to get the better of David Hale in the ruck battle. He was so good that John Longmire felt comfortable putting Mumford in the red vest and leaving Pyke to go it alone in the last term. That's a big tick of approval for a man once ridiculed as a failed experiment.
Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
Mitchell is unlucky to have his name among our goats as he was one of the Hawks' better performers, but he had a brain snap that will forever haunt him. The Hawks trailed by 28 points in the third term, but turned that deficit around with five straight goals to hit the front as the last break neared. But when a free kick was awarded to Jarrad McVeigh, Mitchell threw the ball out of McVeigh's reach when returning it to the Swans' co-captain, resulting in a 50m penalty to Sydney. McVeigh capitalised on Mitchell's mistake by slotting a goal to put the Swans back in front, and the momentum back in their favour. It was a huge turning point in the context of the match.
Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)
Roughead was a non-entity on Saturday afternoon, the broken cog in Hawthorn's forward line that may have ultimately cost them the flag. The key tall was serviceable as a ruck backup to Hale but had zero influence up forward, kicking 0.3 and making poor decisions under pressure time and again. His last minor score came with the Hawks trailing by two points deep in the third quarter, a botched set shot that would have seen his side take a morale-boosting lead into the final term. He might have made amends with a big showing in the last quarter, but instead he was nowhere to be found. The Hawks needed much more from him.
Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)
The big criticism of Rioli – named All Australian at the half-forward flank over Lewis Jetta, mind you – is that he's either brilliant or he's invisible. On Saturday he was the latter, his influence kept to an absolute minimum by Swans defender Nick Smith. Rioli had a mere four touches to half-time, and though he collected 10 more in the second half his score output for the day (0.0) was totally unacceptable. The lone highlight of his afternoon was a footrace with Jetta along the boundary line in the first quarter, and the Swan won that one easily. It was an awful game from the livewire forward in conditions that probably should've suited him.
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