AFL Round 22 – Hawthorn v Geelong: Game of Groans.

Cats: Momentum_LogoHOD White Back Orange Font

 

 

It’s Saturday morning. Melbourne is at its best; brisk and bright, covered by a blue skin with a depth that knows no end. Liam and I are dismantling the rabbit hutch and enclosure. Liam doesn’t want another rabbit. It’s not cool for a 15 year old. I get that. The frosty winter has been one too many for poor old Basil the bunny. We found him a few days back lying on his side, stretched out like he was in full stride, perhaps trying to flee when death came looking.

 

“Where did you bury him?” Liam asked me.

 

“Over there” I say, “under the jacaranda.”

 

It seemed the appropriate place to rest Basil, alongside countless goldfish who’ve gone to meet their maker. He loved nothing more than to nibble on the fresh early summer jacaranda shoots that we would break off and toss into his enclosure. In Melbourne the jacarandas defoliate in late Winter/early Spring as if inhaling a gigantic breath before the extraordinary flower burst that follows. Our jacaranda is taking that breath.

 

People are walking past our house on their way to the park opposite. The sun has brought them out, the aromas of a new season approaching. Refreshment, renewal. I love the sounds and conversations.

 

“Don’t cross the road until I get there”  yells a mum to bushy haired children on bikes who are hurtling down the hill.

“……so I like, rang him up!”

“You rang him up?”

“Yep. And like, you’ll never guess what his excuse was……………………..”

Two young girls discussing a recalcitrant.

“Good day for it” says a bloke over the fence, thinking I’m gardening.

“Are you going to the footy tonight, Grandma?” asks a blond haired junior in his Hawthorn jumper. His footy is tucked under his arm.

“No”, says Grandma pushing a pram. “I’m going to sit at home and watch it.”

 

Phil and I have a chat over the side fence. Phil is a neighbour and Cats supporter. An old style Cats supporter; stained by the agonies of the 70s and 80s, brutalised by lost Grand Finals. Their recent success hasn’t completely vanquished his demons.

“Going tonight?” he asks.

“Yeah.”

“Whadaya reckon?”

“We can beat Hawthorn.” I say.

“Ahhhh dunno”, says Phil gently shaking his head. ” We haven’t been playing well.”

“But we keep winning.” I offer up.

“Yeah. Dunno.”

 

It seems right that Geelong is playing Hawthorn as winter prepares to leave. The finals are in the next room, so close we can almost smell the pies. This game doesn’t mean too much in the greater scheme of the season, but it means an awful lot to this enduring rivalry. They will box each other tonight, probing for the weakness, searching for a way through. The scoreboard will tick over, but the real game will be in the contests; the shoulders smashing together, the pigskin on boot from 50 out, the dash into open space. They will look for advantage that can be applied tomorrow as well as today. Jab, jab, jab, duck, jab, jab. And when the siren sounds to end each quarter the coaches will wipe the blood from the players’ faces and ask, “So what have they got?”

 

And so it went. The game opened with tight, in-close work. Heads clashed but no damage was done. Suddenly the Cats landed a few crisp jabs with speed and skill and poise. Then Roughead landed two of his own. In the second stanza the Cats turned manic. Jab, jab, jab. They got inside the Hawks defence and split them open. Surely this is the best team in the competition? The Hawks were on the ropes covering up. Gunston landed one but Hawkins, Bartel, Thurlow, and Duncan cut the Hawks above the eyes. They were bleeding. But they hadn’t hit the canvas. To half time it had been a clean fight albeit a tough one; Famechon V Harada. After half time it would become a rumble; Ali V Frazier.

 

The Hawks regrouped. Refocused. And they pressed hard early in the third quarter. They squeezed Geelong into a corner and unleashed a frightful pounding. Jabs gave way to upper cuts and left hooks. Geelong’s collective head was being turned left and right as the blows landed. They were helpless; clueless. Blood spilt. In one quarter the Hawks landed six delightfully timed fists to the jaw. They hit the front. Dazed, flummoxed, disorganised and rattled, the Cats were saved by the bell.

 

In the last quarter it continued. Geelong supporters turned away as teeth and saliva and blood covered the ring. Someone stop the fight! The Hawks were relentless and vicious; marauding over Geelong like a victorious Ali standing over a fallen Frazier. Shiels and Ceglan landed the knockouts. Roughie and Hale turned the game from entertainment to a ghoulish spectacle. The Hawks kicked ten in a row. No one survives ten in a row.

 

The game ended. To their credit the Cats were still on their feet but had to be lead back to the corner; eyes swollen, nose flat, mouth distorted.

 

“We can win this.” They were slurring. “We can win this” as they staggered in mindless circles throwing punches at an opponent who was no longer there. It was sad to watch.

 

 

 Geelong:    3.2   8.3   9.3   11.5.71

Hawthorn: 2.2   3.2   9.7   14.10.94

 

Goals:

Hawthorn : Hale 3, Roughead 3, Langford 2, Breust, Ceglar, Gunston, Shiels, Sewell, Lewis.

Geelong: Hawkins 3, Murdoch 2, Thurlow, Taylor, Motlop, Bartel, Selwood, Duncan.

Best:

Hawthorn: Langford, Ceglar, Lewis, Roughead, Hale, Mitchell.

Geelong: Duncan, Stokes, Caddy, Guthrie, Enright.

Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, McInerney

Crowd: 72,212

Our Votes: Langford, Lewis, Ceglar

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sorpranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.

Comments

  1. Hmmm… Varcoe hasn’t played a good game for a long time. Now actively avoiding contact.
    Strangely, I reckon we can beat the Hawks in a couple of weeks. There will be deeper chaos in which to work. Precision kicking gets more difficult from hereon. Not sure we’ll beat Freo or The Swans, though.

  2. Rick Kane says:

    Hi Dips

    That was the win against the Cats that the Hawks have been waiting for. A good fight (as you seamlessly described), maybe not a knock-out punch but the points well and truly to the Hawks. This game was significant (regardless of how cagey and non-committal Scott was in the post game presser).

    The Cats have been on a winning streak (but never quite finishing the job) and the Hawks got brought back to earth by Freo.

    As we head towards September (how did you put it – “finals are in the next room, so close we can almost smell the pies” – very eloquent and chuckle funny), this game should be seen as a marker for both teams.

    Cheers

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Dips didn’t see the game as I was at a dignity for disabled quiz night But we wait and see what the mental scars are from this game as a neutral it seems hawks and swans are in front of every 1 else thanks , Dips

  4. AJC – yes something has been missing from Varcoe since 2011. I don’t think he has the defender’s instincts. And, due to the fact that he runs quite high off the ground (he’s a natural sprinter), he gets knocked off the ball easily in a contested situation. No centre of gravity. Leave him at Hawkins’ feet with short bursts on the wing. If we don’t beat the Hawks we could be playing a fired up Port in the second week. Out in straight sets?

    R. Kane – I think you are right. Perhaps the Cats have their eyes on 2015?

    Mr Rulebook – watch the replay. It was quite a game,.

  5. Gregor Lewis says:

    Great read Dips!

    I AM partial to a boxing metaphor.

    Given the title of the piece, I just hope we don’t end up on the wrong end of another crushing ‘Mountain that Rides’ blow, emulating the lamented Red Viper of Dorne once again.

    The dynamic this year reminds me of the Second Semi ’91.

    I don’t think my heart could take another match like that one, especially if the result is reversed.

    grl

  6. Thanks Gregor I’d almost forgotten 1991 (thankfully). Was that the game that Jarman kicked the winner out of his rectum with seconds to go?

  7. Tony Robb says:

    Hi Dips
    Sorry about the rabbit. Very underrated pet the domesticated bunny. No sorry about the Cats who I’ve always felt to be overrated
    Cheers
    Tony

  8. Gregor Lewis says:

    Now, now Dips!

    It was Andrew with the capacious rectum during the Jarman Bros’ playing days.

    Darren was all front of house silk and unexpected toughness in the contest … As John Worsfold found out twice through the ’91 Finals Series.

    That snap to win the game was a Mercedes.

    All C-L-ass …

    grl

  9. T Robb – might be too early to call the Cats overrated. The result of the Qualifying Final will determine that (assuming we beat Brisbane this week!!).

  10. E.regnans says:

    Dips, that was so, like, brutal.
    Yeah, nah, not brutal. Well, like, a bit brutal. Yeah, kind of beautiful, too.
    Brutiful.
    Yeah.
    Brutiful.

  11. Dips
    On Saturday night, I reckon I learned that the Cats cannot win it this year.

  12. DW – brutiful – I like that word. Gary Ablett senior was brutiful.

    Smoke – fair call. But let’s wait and see what happens.

  13. Cats have been fighting above their weight division this season, and have done remarkably well. May be the best “playing above themselves” performance by a team for some years.

    I’m not sure when the last confirmed miracle was, but we can only pray the next is in 2 weeks time, followed by another two in four and five weeks time.

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