Lance Franklin
Lance Franklin

Hawthorn have survived an almighty scare from Adelaide to win an epic preliminary final by just five points at the MCG on Saturday and book their place in the 2012 Grand Final against Sydney.

After trailing by as much as 22 points late in the third quarter, Adelaide remarkably fought back to kick four goals in a row and snatch a one-point lead at the 21-minute mark of the final term.

But goals from Cyril Rioli and Lance Franklin were just enough for Hawthorn to hang on for the 13.19 (97) to 14.8 (92) victory.

Rioli (26 touches and two goals), Franklin (20 and three), Sam Mitchell (29), Brad Sewell (28), Luke Breust (23 and two) and Jordan Lewis (23) were the best for Hawthorn who did without inspirational skipper Luke Hodge (illness) after he was a late withdrawal.

For the brave Crows, Kurt Tippett played one of the games of his career after a quiet start to the finals series with 16 touches, 11 marks (seven contested) and four goals.

Taylor Walker also kicked four majors while Scott Thompson (31 touches), Patrick Dangerfield (28), Jason Porplyzia (26), Bernie Vince (21) and Rory Sloane (20) played their hearts out.

The Hawks headed into this match having won 13 of their previous 14 matches by an average of 11 goals and Adelaide were quoted as a $7.20 shot at Betfair, but those figures didn't add up for majority of the match.

The usually slick, precise Hawthorn were for the most part sloppy with their skill level and appeared jittery at times on the big stage particularly up forward as they comprehensively won the inside 50 count (64-38) but struggled to find reward.

And at various stages when it looked like the Hawks were about to put the result to bed, Adelaide gallantly kept responding and never gave in.

Tippett and Ricky Henderson kicked the first two majors of the match and while goals from Clinton Young and Liam Shiels appeared to steady Hawthorn's ship, the Hawks continued to be uncharacteristically wasteful with the footy particularly in their forward 50m arc.

Sloane and Tippett then booted the final two goals of the term to give the Crows a seven-point lead despite trailing the inside 50 count 20-9 to that stage as Hawthorn's usually assured and precise kicking game was anything but that.

But after Walker booted the Crows' third in a row six minutes after the first change, the Hawks appeared to be finding their groove.

While their skill level and decision-making still appeared a little frayed, they managed to wrest back the momentum.

They kicked the next three goals via Franklin, Breust and Shaun Burgoyne to lead by eight points and appeared set to stamp their authority on the match.

However, just as the Hawks appeared to rub the sleep from their eyes, Adelaide hung tough and another two majors from Walker - including one on the half-time siren to give the Crows a five-point lead at the main break - put them right back in the contest.

The Hawks flicked the switch after half-time and the clean, precise, intense team that we've all come to know in the past four months returned with a vengeance as they booted the first four goals of the third term in the space of seven minutes, including a 50m bomb from Matt Suckling, to get out to a 20-point lead.

Franklin had a hand in almost every one of those goals and Sewell was instrumental in the middle in giving the Hawks the momentum.

Again, it looked as though the Hawks were going to put the result beyond doubt but again Adelaide's resilience came to the fore as they went goal for goal with the premiership favourites for the rest of the quarter and when Brodie Smith kicked a 50m bomb of his own 27 seconds before three-quarter time, the Crows only trailed by 16 points.

The Hawks had more chances to shut the door in the final term, but a host of missed shots on goal, most notably from Franklin (two behinds and one out of bounds), kept Adelaide in it and the Crows made the most of it.

They booted the first two goals of the final quarter and when Graham Johncock made it three at the 21-minute mark, the Crows hit the front and appeared on the verge of one of the greatest finals upsets.

But Rioli got on the end of the ensuing centre clearance and put his team back in front by five points and when Franklin kicked truly three minutes later, the Hawks had done enough to hang on and book their spot in the grand final.

HAWTHORN: 2.6, 5.10, 11.14, 13.19 (97)
ADELAIDE: 4.1, 7.3, 10.4, 14.8 (92)

GOALS: HAWTHORN: Franklin 3, Breust 2, Gunston 2, Rioli 2, Young, Shiels, Burgoyne, Suckling
ADELAIDE: Tippett 4, Walker 4, Henderson, Sloane, van Berlo, Smith, Porplyzia, Johncock
BEST: HAWTHORN: Rioli, Sewell, Mitchell, Franklin, Breust, Lewis
ADELAIDE: Tippett, Walker, S.Thompson, Dangerfield, Porplyzia, Vince, Sloane
SUBS: HAWTHORN: Shane Savage replaced Paul Puopolo (3-Qtr Time)
ADELAIDE: Graham Johncock replaced Jared Petrenko (3rd Qtr)
CHANGES: Luke Hodge (illness) replaced in Hawthorn's selected side by Tom Murphy
UMPIRES: Donlon, Nicholls, McInerney
CROWD: 69,146 at the MCG

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