I spent last week in the temperate city of Adelaide. At the Hilton. We ate out at Gaucho’s, a Latin American Steakhouse on Gouger St. We attended a function at the National Wine Centre. I saw an excellent production of Macbeth performed by young actors at Urban Myth Theatre. The weather, like the city, was pleasantly mild.
On Friday evening I flew back into Melbourne achingly cold embrace. Even worse, the ducted heating at home was broken down. The family was dressed up like Inuits, with only the dull electronic burr of the plasma big screen for warmth. Even worse still, I only found out at 7.15 that both Buddy and Hodgey were unavailable for this game. Could things get worse? Considering the (wet) towelling the Tiges handed the Hawks last week the answer was plainly, maybe. Brrrrr
The Kane spirit is (in the ballpark of being) indomitable and so, dressed like the Michelin Man, I plonked myself down in front of the telly with a cup of White Monkey Jasmine tea to watch the mighty Hawks warm my cockles. At the Quarter break, with a 4 point lead, the Hawks were looking less than commanding. The best thing I’d seen so far was Cyril’s bright red new boots. Oh, and a brief flickering of the Hawks flame in a turnover in the Saints forward line late in the quarter. Courtesy of Breust’s clean hands the ball moved within a minute up the ground to Rioli who, testing his boot’s suspension, hit Gunston on the chest.
This was a game of little movement. In spurts the Hawks would take it up a gear but mostly the ball was moved around as if it was a training session. Maybe it was the cold front shirt-fronting Melbourne. Maybe the Saints, confronted by the realisation they are in freefall after almost reaching the peak in recent years, were beaten already. Maybe the Hawks were still thawing out.
It was fifteen minutes into the second quarter before the Hawks warmed to the challenge. In a 10 minute rush the Hawks split the big sticks 4 times. This speaks volumes, considering their second quarter score was 5.10. Spangher, a cast off from two different clubs and looking like a 70s Rock-star, showed enough with a goal assist and then a smart toe-poke goal to give Clarko more forward line headaches. Down the field (actually, all over the field) Savage (with an 80s New Wave haircut) savaged the opposition. The last goal in this burst was a beauty from Roughy, an easy snap across his body, deep in the pocket.
The Hawks have a habit of turning short bursts into dazzling displays of football prowess. When it happens they look unbeatable. The second quarter should have been such a moment, what with 15 scoring shots to 2. But they didn’t seize it. At half time I texted the following to Damien, my good friend and fellow Hawker: We should be ahead by 80 points. It must be hard kicking at goal without a wind to influence the result. He replied: Looks like the VFL.
This was a game of little moment. The Hawks had a 37 point lead at half time and at the final siren had stretched it to 46 points. A good solid win for sure but I was left wondering why the real Hawks didn’t show.
There were highlights of course. Savage and Mitchell were more than the Saints could handle. Duryea is developing into a good back-man. Lake was, again, a road block to opposition forward advances. And Roughy posted 5. Farron Ray was solid for the Saints as were Montagna and Steven. Schneider, wearing the green vest, came on in the second half and kicked three for the Saints. His second, a magnificent goal off one step was marred by an unnecessary goal review which drained the moment of its thrill.
The Saints, lead by the proud and defiant Riewoldt, are but a shadow of the hope they once embodied. Was it only three years ago they came within a heartbeat of being Premiers? The Hawks are on the curve of the arc towards great things. Watching the two teams tonight I was reminded of how fleeting is your moment in the sun. This feeling left me cold.
The Hawks must take games like this by the neck. That they didn’t this time is okay, I guess. Bailey, Buddy, Birch and Hodge are due back in the team and that made me feel a little warmer. A hot toddy helped as well.
ST KILDA 2.5 3.6 4.12 7.14 (56)
HAWTHORN 3.3 8.13 10.18 14.18 (102)
St Kilda: Schneider 3, Saunders, Riewoldt, Murdoch, Minchington
Hawthorn: Roughead 5, Gunston 2, Grimley, Sewell, Spangher, Smith, Lewis, Hill, Breust
St Kilda: Montagna, Steven, Riewoldt, Ray, Schneider
Hawthorn: Savage, Roughead, Duryea, Burgoyne, Smith
St Kilda: Stephen Milne (calf soreness) replaced in selected side by Adam Schneider.
Hawthorn: Jack Gunston (left quad)
St Kilda: James Gwilt replaced by Adam Schneider at half time
Hawthorn: Jack Gunston replaced by Bradley Hill in the third quarter
Umpires: Margetts, Stewart, Kamolins
Official crowd: 24,765 at Etihad Stadium
Our votes: Savage (H) 3; Roughead (H) 2; Duryea (H) 1