By Sasha Lennon
I read this morning that Geelong star Paul Chapman says he’s still hurting from the 2008 Grand Final loss to Hawthorn, so much so that he has vowed “never again” will the Cats lose to the Hawks on that biggest of days.
Well let me be the first one to offer you comfort Chappy – I don’t think you’ll have to worry too much about that!
While the Cats have won their first four games of the season (one better than the Hawks), the doubters remain. The reason is simple – the Cats are doing it, to use an old Hawthorn expression, ‘the hard way’.
Geelong and Hawthorn will next meet on the Easter Monday clash at the MCG.
Chappy reckons the Cats are pumped to beat their nemesis and points to Geelong’s four consecutive wins over the Hawks since the 2008 decider to back his confident stance.
This may be so, but while the Cats are winning tough matches, they’re doing it in fifth gear and at full pace. The Hawks by comparison are sitting in second, occasionally shifting gear to third or fourth when needed.
Geelong edged out the Saints by a point in Round 1 followed by an 11-point win over Fremantle, a 79 point thrashing of Port Adelaide (well done) and a 27-point win against a tough Sydney Swans outfit. Each match has been a battle and without superstar Gary Ablett, the ageing and slowing Ling, Wojcinski, Johnson, Mooney, Scarlett, Chapman and Ottens are having to earn their keep at a rate they’ve not experienced for years, if ever before.
Its hard work for the Cats and hard work is even harder to sustain.
Hawthorn has recruited well the past two years. The likes of the talented Burgoyne, Bruce, Gibson and Hale have added much-needed skill and experience to the revitalised Mitchell, Hodge, Young, Lewis and Sewell plus the ever-improving Rioli and the freakish Franklin.
The Hawks also have a fine list of ‘second-tier’ players, if you can call them that, in Osborne, Ladson, Birchall and Gilham plus a company of young players such as Shane Savage and (the now injured) Ben Stratton who have made impressive starts to their careers.
The Hawthorn of 2011 has regained the grunt and the firepower that the Cats once had.
On Easter Monday, Hawthorn will need to use its talent and its hardness, occasionally moving up a gear or two to overcome the still-dangerous Cats. My tip is that when they do, a comfortable win will result for the brown and gold.
The same can’t be said come September. While the Hawks will most likely be fighting Collingwood for the silverware, Ling and his men will be watching from the stands.
So Chappy, don’t worry about the prospect of Hawthorn defeating Geelong in a Grand Final re-match. There’s no chance of that!
Sasha Lennon is a Brisbane-based Knacker whose writing can be found at http://sashasoapbox.blogspot.com/