No three-peat n 2015

Hawks Three-peat Unlikely

By Penny Dredfell 31 March 2015

The Hawks appear well placed to win their third flag in a row (which is a two-peat, in reality – not a three-peat).  They won the 2014 by a big margin; in the off-season, they picked up James Frawley.  They also get Brendan Whitecross back from a knee reco and Cyril Rioli should be fitter this year.

So why wouldn’t they?  The answer is found in the realm of technical footy analysis (which looks for trends and patterns which explain the otherwise inexplicable).

An amazing trend has held true since 1961.  In that time, all teams to win the grand final by over 6 goals have, in the following season, either failed to make the grand final or been outscored in the second half of the grand final.

Of the 20 teams to have had such a big grand final victory in this period, 8 have made it to the big game the next year (40% success rate).  Only one team (Hawks 1989) won the flag (1 out of 20 = a 5% success rate) – falling over the line after having a huge lead early.  The other 7 all lost.  And all 8 lost the last half of their grand finals (0% success rate).

The second half deficit of these 8 teams to progress was:
Roos: 11 points in 1976
Hawks: 49 in 1984
Hawks: 21 in 1987
Hawks: 31 in 1989 (but the only one to hang on for a win)
Bombers: 38 in 2001
Lions: 41 in 2004
Cats: 23 in 2008
Pies: 41 in 2011

So, on average, they were outscored by 32 points in the second halves of their respective grand finals.  This is statistically significant.

Comparing this to the 33 teams which have won the grand final by 6 goals or less in the same era: 12 of them made the big one the following year (a similar success rate of 36%), but for 7 wins (7 out of 33 = a 21% success rate).

These 12 above-mentioned teams won 9 of their second grand final halves and, on average, outscored their opponents in the second half by 21 points.

“Why is it so?”, you may ask.  I’m so glad you asked!  The big GF win seems to create a different mindset for a team.  This applies to both the inner sanctum and the supporter / member.

The big GF win tends to breed an unhealthy sort of confidence.  Call it arrogance, if you like.  But it somehow has the effect of draining teams at some stage in the year.  For those teams to make the GF, they entire September form tends to be inferior to their regular season efforts.  This is true of the most recent such cases: Collingwood in 2011 and Geelong in 2008.

The Hawks could still do it, but it will be an uphill battle.