Round 23 – Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs: David Versus Goliath, The Rematch

Hawthorn versus Western Bulldogs

7.50 pm, Friday, 25th August

Etihad Stadium

 

Neil Anderson

 

DAVID VERSUS GOLIATH: THE REMATCH

 

STOP ALL THE CLOCKS

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever:

I was wrong.

  1. H. Auden

 

Such are the qualities and depth of feeling that Bob Murphy possesses, he would have the skill to match the sentiment of W. H. Auden’s famous poem. Of course Bob’s lament would be about his departure from his beloved Western Bulldogs after eighteen years.  Bulldog supporters hoped Bob and Matthew Boyd would play forever. But they were wrong. So although the atmosphere tonight might have a  funereal feel, at least supporters won’t  have to experience the grief of an actual funeral. They’ll be gloomy and despondent about Bob and Boydy’s retirement and probably no finals action, but they do have a premiership less than twelve months ago to see them through a long Spring and Summer.

Before any talk of eras ending and replacing irreplaceable leaders, there is a match to be played. Until I saw details of previous matches between the Dogs and the Hawks, I had forgotten how long ago it was since the Dogs had beaten the Hawks prior to that final last year. It’s amazing how that second finals-win against all odds managed to erase memories of so many past defeats.

David representing the Western Bulldogs finally slew Goliath representing Hawthorn. So tonight is a re-match and I fear for the under-manned and undersized Bulldogs. Alistair Clarkson used his media conference to remind the public how disadvantaged it was to have the bye prior to the start of the finals. I think he was saying the top teams would be disadvantaged  if they won their first final and then had another week off before they played again. There was no counter argument from anyone suggesting that resting bodies for a second time after a long season of football could actually be advantageous.

Clarkson’s thoughts about the bye deftly reminded everyone about that old chestnut from last year. Just how did the Dogs come from no-where to win four finals in a row? There was a general opinion that the Dogs were successful only because they had the week off prior to the finals which allowed them to bring back injured players. Once again, there was no counter-argument to suggest the bye would be beneficial in helping all teams participating in finals! The probing continues into how the Dogs managed to win the grand-final and the white-noise and has only intensified with the Dogs struggling to make the eight.

I have admired the explanations given by Luke Beveridge when the Dogs have lost certain matches this year. He never blames injuries to key players which would be so easy to do. As a supporter, I have no such qualms. Tonight the Dogs will be without their premiership-captain and back-line intercept-marker Easton Wood. Our new fullback Marcus Adams has been sidelined for most of the year. Our ruckman/forward and premiership hero Tom Boyd is also not available. Players out of form or suspended including Mitch Wallis, Tory Dickson, Clay Smith and Jack Redpath would have  expected to play tonight.

Reflecting on the number of players available compared to last year, it is not surprising the Dogs have struggled. It is also a reminder of what an incredible achievement it was last year to win the premiership. An eighteen-team competition with no home-ground Bulldog-fortress as found in Geelong, Perth, Sydney and Adelaide, while having to over-come injuries to key-players. It’s time the Bulldogs were given the credit they deserve for the 2016 premiership. Time to put an end to any more forensic analyses from commentators and other clubs who thought the Bulldogs somehow fluked the premiership.

One last slim chance to play finals. Hawthorn are first out led by Jarryd Roughead looking remarkably like Goliath himself. The Bulldogs run through their banner led by the svelte David-like figure of Bob Murphy. A man of peace and love and understanding who has no need of a sling-shot. Bulldog Banner-man Danny McGinlay has nailed the tribute to Bob and Boydy using the rousing words of Walt Whitman. “ O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN ” . No need to be maudlin and quote W. H. Auden like I did.

The Bulldog energy was up in the first quarter with Picken getting the first goal, something that hasn’t happened to often for the Bulldogs this year. A pattern soon emerged where the Dogs were either out-marked or couldn’t hold on to their marks. Unfortunately the biggest culprit dropping marks was Tom Campbell, one of only two tall Bulldog players. Roughead, O’Brien, Sicily and later McEvoy held their marks and in Roughead’s case, kicked accurately for goal. The highlight of the quarter in a nostalgic sense as well as in precise execution, was Boyd to Murphy for a goal. Otherwise there was a lot of fumbling from tired young Bulldogs including The Bont. Only eight points down at quarter-time but it was hard to see the Bulldogs lasting for three more quarters.

In the second quarter as tiredness set it was turnover-city with points only being kicked including the first of three by first-gamer Patrick Lipinski. Hawthorn were getting goals far easier and were finding space continually. At one stage they didn’t need their tall marking players in front of goal. They had the diminutive Paul Puopolo. Sitting at the back of a pack of Bulldog defenders, the ball landed untouched into his waiting arms. Easy goals came from Sicily off one step fifty metres out and then one from Isaac Smith after the ball was passed  from the back-line to the forward-line.

The Hawks continued to out-mark the Dogs in the third quarter as the Dogs bombed the ball into the forward-line. It was heart-breaking to see the likes of Sicily just standing there marking over the head of Luke Dahlhaus. Trying his guts out for his team but missing the likes of  Jack Redpath, Travis Cloke and Tom Boyd to even up the contest, Luke did manage to mark and goal just before the siren. A Bailey Dale snap for goal was also a highlight giving the Bulldogs some hope being only eleven points down at three-quarter time.

Mainly bad signs for the Dogs in the last quarter. A Picken goal disallowed after a fingernail touch by a Hawk. The Bont who twelve months ago stood strong by pushing the even stronger Luke Hodge aside was completely disorientated  in front of goal tonight. In comparison, Roughead kicked his fifth goal when the ball was rushed to the other end of the ground.  The end was nigh as Hunter, Murphy and Lipinski could only manage points. Another Dale goal from fifty and a long-running goal from McLean wasn’t enough to bridge the gap and the Hawks won  by nine points.

Goliath triumphed but the two retiring Davids in Bob and Boydy have passed on their wisdom and expertise to the new Davids who have emerged to take their place. Patrick Lipinski, player 1000 at the Western Bulldogs who debuted tonight is one of those players. To emphasise the value of one-club champion players and their longevity, I note that Bob Murphy played along side Tom Liberatore’s father Tony and Matthew Boyd missed playing with Tony by only one year.

 

Hawthorn      5.3  9.5  12.6  15.9      99

Bulldogs         4.2 7.4  10.7  13.12    90

GOALS

Hawthorn:  Roughead 5, Smith 3, Puopolo 3, Sicily, Schoenmakers, Burgoyne, O’Brien

Bulldogs: Picken 3, Dale 2, Hunter 2, Dahlhaus, Boyd, Murphy, Campbell, Liberatore, McLean

BEST

Hawthorn:  Roughead, Sicily, McEvoy, Mitchell, Gunston, O’Meara, Smith, Puopolo

Bulldogs: Macrae, Boyd, McClean, Bontempelli, Picken, Murphy

Umpires:   Stevic, Dalgleish, Fisher

Official crowd:   48,090

Our Votes:   3 Roughead (H) 2 Boyd (WB) 1 Gunston (H)

About Neil Anderson

Enjoys reading and writing about the Western Bulldogs. Instead of wondering if the second premiership will ever happen, he can now bask in the glory of the 2016 win.

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