HARD-NUT onballer Jordan Lewis sensed the AFL first preliminary final would go to extra time.
His Hawthorn side was six points up with less than a minute remaining in yet another epic between the Hawks and modern-day nemesis Geelong.
A third grand final and a shot at a second premiership medal beckoned for the boy from Warrnambool.
But disaster loomed. Cat Travis Varcoe had collected a pass 40 metres from goal, ran around Brad Sewell and straightened in front of goal.
Lewis feared the worst.
“As hard as it is for players, you only see the clock counting up,” he said yesterday, recalling the late drama at the MCG on Friday night.
“It was definitely heart-in-your-mouth stuff.”
Varcoe sprayed the shot wide, his drop punt missing to the right-hand side.
The Hawks led by five points with 37 seconds left, ultimately winning 14.18 (102) to 15.7 (97).
The win was their first in 12 matches against the Cats since the 2008 grand final and snapped the infamous “Kennett Curse”.
They will take on an up-and-about Fremantle in a historic grand final at the MCG on Saturday.
“I would’ve been 60 or 70 metres out, I didn’t have too bad a view,” Lewis said of Varcoe’s shot.
“But I was off to the side so I didn’t know if it was going through for a goal or a point.
“When you see the goal umpire move that much, you know it’s going to be a point.”
Lewis, 27, said the Hawks were calm at three-quarter-time, despite trailing the Cats by 20 points.
He said coach Alastair Clarkson rammed home that they had a full quarter to eat into the deficit.
“The message was you don’t need to pull back that deficit within five minutes,” he said.
“There were a good 28 to 30 minutes to get ourselves in front.
“We probably had more opportunities than we thought we would. We wasted a few of those opportunities.
“In the end, when the siren sounded, we were in front.
“Whether it was a bit of luck or not, I don’t know. We had faith, we’ve got a resilient group.”
Lewis and his Hawks are attempting to keep grand final week as normal as possible.
They had a recovery session and game review yesterday and will have their main session today.
Thousands will converge on Waverley Park for their open session on Thursday before the grand final parade on Friday.
Lewis said he felt as fit as any footballer could hope to be in September, a result of adjusting to the demands of nine seasons in the AFL.
But Hawthorn will have to make one change, to replace Brendan Whitecross, who ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in the preliminary final.
Colac onballer Jonathan “Joffy” Simpkin, who was best-on-ground in the VFL grand final on Sunday, is one of three players in contention for a recall.
“He definitely put his hand up yesterday,” Lewis said.