Round 21 – Hawthorn v Geelong: All aboard

Round 21: Hawthorn vs Geelong

 

Another Hawks vs Cats game overflowing with the tension and derring-do we have come to know and love in this quite remarkable rivalry?  Probably the most highly regarded rivalry in modern footy. It had everything and more that the rivalry has thrown up in the last ten years. Believe me, I haven’t forgotten. We endured 11 losses in a row. 11! Yes, I guess it was good for footy. But for the soul? No siree.

 

Footy tragics loved these contests and I understand why. We are all hungry for what this little bread and circus enterprise known as Aussie Rules can deliver in its best possible incarnation. Cats vs Hawks games kept on delivering delights, surprises and “wow, well I never” gasps at the astonishment of a run or a contest or a gallant effort like they were an endlessly gushing geyser of greatness.

 

The American philosopher, Mr Springsteen wasn’t whistling Dixie in his claim that “from small things big things one day come”. Maybe he was predicting the evolving meta narrative of the mighty Hawks and Cats rivalry as played out at least annually in the cauldron of fire that is the MCG. The fire was lit way back in 1989. In 2008 it again became a thing. Then curse you Kennett, for cursing us and the 11 losses. Then Varcoe missed, the Hawks won three Premierships in a row and both teams have settled into what is quaintly euphemised as “rebuilding”.

 

Still the rivalry stands head and shoulders above others in this game of games. This year the two teams are not the leaders they have been. The Cats were expected to do alright and the Hawks maybe mighta made the Eight. Yet, even in a “rebuilding” year they have played two out-and-out crackers. (Psst, it’s easier to acknowledge things when you are 2 up on your rival). Both games went down to the wire, mostly because the Cats have ‘no surrender’ tattooed on their souls.

 

That is why at three quarter time, even though my Hawks had a five goal buffer in a low scoring game, I was not thinking, well we have this one in the bag. I was not gargling from me water bottle in anticipation of joining the Hawks cheer squad choir in belting out the best team song in the competition. I was in fact arguing with my Cats loving son that the Cats were still in it. Dejected, he had all but written them off. I told him nuh. They are a proud warrior clan. And they would be hurting in the huddle. Furious with their poor form. Ready to roll as they say in war zones.

 

I could understand Jackson’s nervousness. The Hawks fired up in the Second and extended the lead in the Third. The Cats had not looked convincing in the First even though they won the quarter. And for 30 minutes before the main break the Hawks turned the Cats dream into a nightmare. At the seven minute mark the AFL Match centre noted that the Hawks’ disposal efficiency was running at 81% compared to the Cats at 18%! Then Cat’s ruckman Stanley went down with a game ending calf injury and their game plan, inadequate as it was, fell apart.

 

The Hawks were already dominating across the ground with the likes of Burton down back playing his best game for the year and young Worpel in only his seventh game outplaying Selwood. Our stars up forward, Breust, Smith and Gunston, were in ‘The A team’ form. The Hawks firepower left the Cats burnt and exhausted. We hit the lead in the Second and never let it slip. Well …

 

Here we go again. Another Last quarter to keep cardiologist rolling in it! We were perched behind the big sticks at the Punt Rd end so we saw a lot of play. It was as if the Cats finally understood that this game was actually about their season. And if they struggle to beat the Hawks how the hell are they going to challenge genuine Finals contenders. The Hawks almost bought this logic and appeared to succumb to the Cats. Letting the Cats dictate the terms. To be fair, it did take the Cats 15 minutes into the quarter to score a goal such was the dour commitment of the Hawks to not let either side score.

 

In 4 minutes of sparkling footy the Cats kicked three goals and suddenly there was one kick in it. With more than ten minutes to play. The Hawks had hardly moved it past the centre for Kennett’s sake! This did not feel good. I’ve been here before. Jackson was no longer down in the dumps. Rather, he was sucking in the deflating energy from the Hawks Cheer Squad and expelling it as a one man Cats megaphone deep in enemy territory. He has been here before.

 

But when it mattered most the Cats did not have enough. Hawkins, who has been in sensational form, missed a sitter. Parsons too. Gary Jr missed everything. And then … and then … and then in a scrimmage or a rolling maul or a congested pack (probably all of the above) Ceglar booted the ball into an open paddock. What old timers call the forward-line. There was nary a beast or fowl to be seen. But Puopolo, enacting Chariots of Fire mashed with Gallipoli, ran as if he wanted his heart to burst from his chest. Mine was surely about to burst and I was sitting on me arse.

 

He bolted, chased by a hapless Cats defender. Pup had the smarts to push Kolodjashnij off balance as they met the wayward ball, giving himself seconds and space to claim the ball. He tapped it out to Smith who shot it to Shoey. Under pressure he shot it back to Smith who had Harry running past. He took the hot potato and handpassed to O’Meara. With a neat glide off the side of his golden right boot O’Meara scored the sealer.

 

In a game that saw Cats giants Dangerfield, the little Master and Menegola having a day out the real question is just how many passengers does the Cats bus carry? The Cats were within a goal of another win. It wasn’t the misses on goal that let them down. It was the extent of quality across the field. In the AFL app, player’s stats tells a story to ponder. Thirteen of the twenty least contributors on the day were Cats. Of the top twenty players only eight Cats players figure. And in the top ten, there are only three Cats. And yet they still came within a beat of winning.

 

But this win was a team win. A team, that as legend and the song goes, is happy. The Cats on the other hand have to ask themselves a most difficult question, are we a team? They have some seriously searing soul searching in front of them, beyond however they fare this season, to get that answer right.

 

HAWTHORN     0.4     5.8     9.10     10.11     (71)
GEELONG          2.4     2.6      5.8        8.12      (60)

GOALS
Hawthorn: 
Smith 2, Gunston 2, Breust 2, Ceglar, Schoenmakers, Morrison, O’Meara
Geelong: Ablett 3, Narkle, Hawkins, Henry, Menzel, Kelly

BEST 
Hawthorn:
 Mitchell, Worpel, Burgoyne, Hardwick, Ceglar, Shiels, O’Meara
Geelong: Ablett, Dangerfield, J.Selwood, Hawkins, Menegola, Duncan

INJURIES 
Hawthorn:
 Roughead (ankle) replaced in selected side by Pittonet
Geelong: Stanley (calf)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Harris, Ryan

Official crowd: 59,529 at the MCG

Our votes: 3 Mitchell, 2 Ablett, 1 Worpel

 

For more of Truker Slim’s writitng, CLICK HERE:

 

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About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Trucker, your ability to work a Springsteen reference into a sentence is second to none. :)

    Did I detect sly dig at C. Scott in there somewhere?

  2. A Clarkson is truly one of the greatest coaches of all time.

  3. Trucker Slim says:

    Thank you JB, I have a core set (Dylan, Cash, Williams and Bruce) to reach for because as someone once said, I learned more from a 3 minute record than I ever learned in school. Damn, I did it again.

    Was unintentional but certainly the imbalance of talent across the field sticks out. I have a feeling they are probably a beat or two ahead of me in trying to sort it out.

  4. Trucker Slim says:

    He is that and more Smokie. I don’t think we have a chance this year. However, in the car home I did wonder: if we snuck through (and GWS beat the Tiges in the Prelim) whether we’d be, by accident, taking another shot at the brass ring. Cheers

  5. The Cats are shit.

  6. Trucker Slim says:

    Dips, you’re sounding a lot like Jackson

  7. I reckon the game was lost at the selection table.
    Who’d a thunk picking a half-fit ruckman with the only back up being the lynch pin of our defence and a promising first year mid-tall utility was going to fly?
    Oh, and James Parsons, who must be in possession of some fairly incriminating photos of Chris Scott!

  8. Trucker Slim says:

    Parsons and Kolodjashnij too.

  9. Trucker- thanks for this. Last year we took our boys to Melbourne for their first trip and their MCG debut was the Cats and Hawks in front of 70,000. It was another thriller; the one in which Paddy kicked 5 on one leg. A ripper on a bright winter’s afternoon. We hope to get back over next season.

  10. Trucker – you might think my brief summary of the Cats is just a glib comment. But I went through the process:

    Looked at our ratio of hard ball gets from 1892 – 2018.
    Dissected the time spent in the corridor.
    Analysed our “metres gained” as opposed to “metres lost”.
    Looked at time inside 50 and time (wait for it) outside 50.
    Built a data base around defensive pressure acts.
    Seasonally adjusted turnovers inside oppo 50 (in winter its easier to turn it over).
    Created a algorithm that judges tackle effectiveness.
    Tried to understand the negative impact of clash jumper defeats.
    Did a PhD on C. Scott’s tactical moves. The one he did make (back in 2012) wasn’t successful.
    Graphed the improvement performance of young recruits under the current coach – came in at -5.
    Looked for a game plan – found an old one under the photocopier.

    Conclusion: The Cats are shit.

  11. Generous. Magnanimous. Insightful. Broad perspectives. I enjoyed it. Who wrote it?
    Have you taken on a ghost writer Trucker? Have to keep family sensibilities in mind? Maybe the spleen is just reserved for the Eagles? Dockers can’t inspire hatred – only pity. Migrant loathing of the detested homeland?
    The only non-Eagles game I have been to in the last 15 years was Hawks-Cats on Easter Monday in 2016 when Paddy blow-in played a blinder but the Machine still triumphed. The following week the Machine gave us a bigger belting than in the 2015 GF. I haven’t forgotten.
    In victory revenge. In defeat malice.
    See you in September.

  12. Trucker Slim says:

    Hey Dips, now you’re sounding a lot like Dips!

    “Tried to understand the negative impact of clash jumper defeats.” Love it! By the way, if there is such an impact the Hawks would be hurting hard.

    Cheers

  13. Trucker Slim says:

    Why thank you PB, I do try to be objective … and fail gleefully!

    I think your mob will see more of September than mine. But we are slowly reforming, hopefully into that machine you talk of. Maybe 2019, morel likely 2020. (Cue maniacal laughter right about here!)

    Cheers

  14. Trucker Slim says:

    Yes, Mickey, thank you for reminding me of that. I really needed to be reminded of a game that the AFL Match Centre described thus:

    “The Hawks won the clearances (36-26), contested possessions (139-131) and inside 50s (55-46), but the late miss from Smith, and a ridiculous game from Dangerfield denied the Hawks a win in game 300 for Luke Hodge.”

    Let’s focus on 2018 now :)

    Cheers

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