Round 3 – Gold Coast v Hawthorn: Setting the sun on the Hawks’ horizon
AFL Round 3: Gold Coast v Hawthorn – Setting the sun on the Hawks’ horizon.
As Adele sung in her Grammy award winning song: ‘This is the end.’
Hawthorn, a juggernaut for so long, hits unchartered water at 0-2, with the anchors of Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis attached to the SS Shipped Off. The first two losses may have been the mayday bells ringing in the ears of ship captain Alastair Clarkson, but what transpired at Metricon Stadium in the sparkling evening sunshine of the Gold Coast may have rocked the ship like a destructive wave, knocking off passengers.
Is it too ironic to point out that Cyclone Debbie, the storm that wreaked havoc over the eastern coast of Queensland, took place in the same state as the death of Hawthorn’s remarkable dynasty? Maybe it’s a suggestion, a connection between the storm of the cyclone and the storm of the maligned Gold Coast Suns outfit that removed all confidence from a Hawks outfit that has been rampant throughout the AFL over the past five years.
The shock loss to the Bulldogs in last year’s finals series was put behind the Hawks and cited as an aberration. The Bulldogs had the dream run, ran on fumes of cloud nine and battle hardened football that stunned every determined team that it came up against. But, as the revitalised Roughead led his tentative troops onto the empty Metricon Stadium oval, he and his teammates had no clue about the demoralisation that Old Man Ablett and his rag-tag bunch of red-clad kids were about to inflict.
Early intentions were made apparent, with touted youngster Jack Martin slotting an early brace to accompany Gaz’s emphatic goal. After a week of constant harassment about his future, the early major was a sign of things to come. Two Hawks settlers to reign in the margin before quarter time hoodwinked no one, as the Suns ran riot. Led by a surprising mix of toey youth and experienced campaigners, the team in red underwent a monolithic transformation to appear unified and cohesive.
Led by the speed of Saad, Miller, Martin and Hall, the able Suns rocketed into the half time break 26 points up, exposing a possible upset. However, the reputation of Hawthorn, the fight, the grit and the overwhelming tenacity, meant that viewers could only wait for the inevitable comeback. It had happened against seasoned teams like Geelong and Sydney on so many occasions, surely it was brewing against the lowly Suns?
Much to the disbelief of not just Hawks fans, but the entire competition, a revamped and highly skilful Matera inspired a ten goal third quarter, diminishing not just the Hawks’ chances of winning, but their confidence. It was official, with Ablett returning to the feeling of leather poisoning that he had missed through many an injury, that the Hawks were going to reside at the foot of the ladder for the first time in ages. Matera finished with six, Ablett kicked two and touched it a lazy 36 times, and the champagne was uncorked. Even Luke Hodge couldn’t stop the parading Suns from pulling out the party tricks, with his resolute will crumbling under some lucrative candy and a vivacious Lemmens sidestep.
The harrowing 86-point margin solidifies Hawthorn’s September engagements as being widely open, while Gold Coast have usurped Tasmania talks to relieve Gazza of his Atlas-like duties. To some, it is a horrific bump along the journey for a battling Hawks outfit. However, to many, including yours truly, the 9th of April, 2017, remains the day that the dynasty of Hawthorn, which boasts four flags and a swag of champions, officially crumbled. And who’s sitting on top of the rubble, smiling in spite of his burdened shoulders and shiny head perspiring under the Gold Coast sun? Gaz.