One of the greatest moments in modern history

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 20 September 2014 | 20.01

Hawthorn are through to the AFL Grand Final after defeating Port Adelaide Power in a nail biting affair

Luke Hodge smothers Brad Ebert's attempt to kick the ball inside 50. Picture: Colleen Petch. Source: News Corp Australia

LUKE Hodge guessed correctly, Brad Ebert didn't.

That was ultimately the tale of last night's thrilling preliminary final as Hawthorn's inspirational captain affected a smother that will go down among the better finals moments in modern history.

With one minute on the clock and Ebert marking Shaun Burgoyne's kick-in about 65m from goal, the Power midfielder played on and took four steps before Hodge killed his entry to help send the Hawks into a third consecutive Grand Final.

"To be honest I think I just tripped over I was that exhausted and I just landed on the ball," Hodge said after last night's three-point win.

"I think Ebert took the mark and at the stage of the game it was I thought he was going to play on and lucky enough I fell across his boot and smothered it."

Hodge smothers Brad Ebert's kick in the dying stages of the preliminary final win. Picture: Colleen Petch. Source: News Corp Australia

Hodge attempts to gather the ball after the smother. Picture: Colleen Petch. Source: News Corp Australia

Hodge wins a free kick for holding the ball against Tom Jonas. Picture: George Salpigtidis Source: News Corp Australia

Hodge takes his free kick. Picture: Colleen Petch. Source: News Corp Australia

Neither player knew how long was left with Hodge using the crowd noise to gauge the siren was near while Ebert said his decision to play on was triggered by team rules.

"The last 30 seconds, I guess I took the mark and wasn't sure how much time was on the clock. We'd been told to take the game on, take risks and really, that was what I went for," the devastated former Eagle said last night.

"I saw Westy (Justin Westhoff) on the inside of me just inside 50 and I thought I should hit him, obviously didn't quite see the players to my left and it was disappointing."

The courageous act capped another stellar September match for Hodge — the 2008 Norm Smith medallist — and he followed up with a rewarded tackle on Tom Jonas to win the ball back.

The match-defining act came as no surprise to Alastair Clarkson or Matt Suckling, with the penetrating left-footer declaring Hodge "our rock" and the master coach praising him as "a real warrior".

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson talks to the press after the Hawks' narrow win over Port Adelaide in the AFL finals

"I haven't seen the replay, I know there was a swinging Port Adelaide boot and I was expecting it to go either through the goals or to the top of the goalsquare and it just stopped in its tracks," Clarkson said.

"Someone said, `Who's that?' and someone said, `Hodge just dived on the boot'.

"He's the captain of our footy club for a reason — he's been doing that for 10-12 years.

"He's enormously regarded at our footy club, but that's the reason that the respect for him is universal because he just does tough, hard things in a game of footy that need to be done.

"I'm pretty happy he's on our side."

Suckling said it was a pleasure to play alongside the veteran.

"There are some pretty good players floating around, but from a teammate's perspective, it's pretty special to have someone on your team who can change momentum wherever he plays."

Clarkson said Hodge's nous to head to the backline to help curtail the Power's first-quarter dominance was critical to his side's comeback.

"We couldn't get control of the ball early on and Port Adelaide was smashing us at contested ball and clearances and Hodgey just rolled back there to try to stem the tide a little bit," he said

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