Haughty Hawks hark back
Gold Coast Suns versus Hawthorn
7.40pm, Saturday 12th April
There’s not much point building the tension for this one. A nail-biter it wasn’t, even with the Suns showing some admirable resolve in the opening quarter. But against Hawthorn, a team which looks ominously similar to those golden-era sides of the mid to late 1980s, a mechanistic and relentless force of footballing precision would soon be unleashed which no rising star (or Sun) could counter.
We’d made a weekend of this – me, Lisa and our three Hawthorn-loving offspring, each proudly displaying their guernseys signed by Roughead, Mitchell, Gibson, Hale and other 21st Century heroes at the previous night’s training session. And we weren’t alone. Of the 17,000 or so in attendance at Carrara, it seemed more than half were in Hawthorn colours.
We took our places directly behind the goals at the scoreboard end where we were reminded of VFL Park, or what it might have looked like had the powers that be retained and revamped that jewel of suburbia where we had enjoyed so many victories. Our desperation in finding a car park and walking a couple of kilometres to the gate had also re-kindled our memories of that bygone era. And at the flash new Metricon Stadium, it’s just as easy to grab a beer and a pie as it was back then! I sensed a strong south-eastern Melbourne presence amongst the South-East Queenslanders at Carrara, many of whom I’m sure had made the trek north back when Jeff Kennett’s Victoria was literally “on the move”.
As the kids quickly bored of our reminiscing, to their relief the ball was bounced and the contest was underway. The Suns, who some fancied as rattling these unshakeable Hawks, showed early promise. Kicking four of their seven goals for the match, the home side kept pace with the visitors up until quarter-time. Ablett was in the mix but was held well (as well as Ablett can be held, anyway) by a pack led by Jordan Lewis and just about any other hungry Hawk in the little master’s vicinity.
Meanwhile Shaun Burgoyne and Sam Mitchell racked up the possessions, the former captain also scoring his first of two goals for the match, while sharpshooters Rioli, Roughead and Gunston were looking dangerous with a bevy of goals and a couple of near-misses between them. At the other end of the ground Luke Hodge was being Luke Hodge. That was good enough for us.
The Suns worked hard through individual goal-scorers in O’Meara, Hall, Shaw and Lynch, keeping the margin to just two goals in Hawthorn’s favour at the first break. But after quarter-time, Hawthorn stepped up a gear, with Jack Gunston quickly scoring his second major for the evening and Cyril using his pace to slam one through the middle.
The Suns shone for a moment after Gary Ablett kicked truly but after a slight stutter, the Hawthorn machine shifted back into gear, Sam Mitchell kicking his second followed by a typically sublime major to Luke Breust. Rischitelli replied but his was countered with a classier goal to Matthew Suckling, Hawthorn’s seventh individual goal-scorer (by evening’s end it would be 12). Feeling relaxed, we ate chips and pies and didn’t think of Buddy.
A rather messy third term saw the Suns lift again but to no avail as Hawthorn, led by Jack Gunston, added five goals to its tally compared to just one to the Gold Coast through David Swallow, who was one of the home side’s shining lights.
Gold Coast failed to add another in the final term and in the end Hawthorn ran away with it, booting the last 11 goals of the match, a number of which sailed straight over our heads or just out of reach. When Suckling meandered in to boot his second for the evening, what would be the final margin had blown out to 99 points.
With just a few minutes remaining, the kids debated whether or not we’d crack the tonne. Another goal in what had been an avalanche since half-time would see us get home by a whopping 105 points, while a behind would deliver their much-preferred neat and tidy 100-point victory.
Such is the considered arrogance of this generation of Hawks. But with 11 straight wins registered since last winter, not to mention the lesson handed to another premiership contender in Fremantle the previous round, its little wonder we were now more confident than ever.
As we filed out of the stadium and along the Nerang-Broadbeach Road with a throng of brown and gold and barely a Sun in sight, one would have been forgiven for thinking we’d just left a Hawthorn home game at VFL Park circa 1989. It sure felt like it.
Gold Coast 4.4 6.4 7.5 7.7 (49)
Hawthorn 6.4 11.7 16.9 23.10 (148)
Gold Coast: O’Meara, Hall, Shaw, Lynch, Ablett, Rischitelli, Swallow
Hawthorn: Gunston 5, Roughead 4, Rioli 2, Mitchell 2, Suckling 2, Breust 2, Hale, Smith, Shiels, Hill, Simpkin, Puopolo
Gold Coast: Ablett, Swallow, Rischitelli
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Gunston, Burgoyne, Hodge, Puopolo, Roughead
Umpires: Fisher, Stevic and Harris
Official Crowd: 17,729 at Metricon Stadium
Our Votes: Mitchell (Haw) 3, Burgoyne (Haw) 2, Gunston (Haw) 1