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Round 8 – Hawthorn v Sydney: A perfect storm

Hawthorn v Sydney

7:50PM, Friday May 11




You can dance in the storm. Don’t wait for the rain to be over before you do because it might take too long. You can do it now. Wherever you are, right now, you can start, right now; this very moment.” Israelmore Ayivor


The sinister storm that swept through our local area in Southern Tasmania last Thursday night offered us no opportunity to dance. The event has since been declared a ‘catastrophe’. But in true Australian spirit, the recovery has begun. Soon enough it may be time to trip the light fantastic.


Slightly further north in Melbourne, a month’s worth of rain descended in one day; the same day that two of football’s storm-makers are to do battle once again. It’s Hawthorn v Sydney. Armageddon predictions are being made about the conditions, but no matter the weather, these games are belters.


Recent encounters have been close calls, much like the mulch-saving rescue mission that The Swanette embarked on in our newly-laid garden bed at 5:30AM in driving rain, while I remained in blissful slumber upstairs. Despite the tumultuous evening, the planets seem to have aligned in a minor way as I arrive at work only to find that everything has been cancelled for the day. Is this some kind of sign sent from above?


As I turn the car around and begin to head home, I’m thinking about how adversity can bring opportunity. The sudden chance to enjoy a long weekend simply must be embraced. Our Bloods can step out on to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on a Friday night against an old enemy to create something special. Opportunities have been afforded to some of the younger brigade in recent times – some through another’s adversity and some not. For many of our cygnets, this will be a rare moment to shine.


In the early part of the season our Swans have been navigating an inconsistent and savage sea. Uncharacteristic unpredictability at home has been largely swept aside by an outstanding away style. This leads to a sense of the unknown this evening. We’re being hosted again, so here’s hoping we can ride this one out.


Some people actually enjoy thunderstorms – people who rejoice in the raw fury of nature, especially the electric sight of lightning, the roaring sound of thunder and the calming feel of rain. I suggest John Longmire may be among that group tonight. Our past few encounters have seen this opponent keep possession of the football through precise kicking and uncontested marking – very methodical. Rugged conditions should not allow such a game plan to prove successful. Tonight, we’re all ceraunophiles.


Festivities begin in soggy, but not apocalyptic circumstances and the opening quarter is a free flowing affair. In fact it seems the conditions are much better than anticipated. Emerging from the darkness, is yet another in a long line of Sydney Swans rookie-list success stories. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Ben Ronke.


In just his third game of senior football in the nation’s premier competition, Ronke becomes the first Swan since B. Hall in 2002, to kick four opening-quarter goals. Through a highly impressive mix of pace, strength, composure and skill, the 20-year old bursts on to the scene and, with both teams’ skill level terrific in the conditions, the initial exchanges are in complete contrast to the week just passed.


Sometimes stormy offshore voyages progress just as the pilot charts and route planning predicts they will. While at other times, they don’t. Momentum changes so regularly in football, like weather and sea states change and new strategies become necessary. Crew members look to the skipper to make those decisions. This involves using information amassed from a variety of sources and in tonight’s case, an abundance of on-field leadership from the rookies of the expedition. We’ve got some genuine footballing intelligence.


It’s becoming increasingly difficult to quash the expectations placed on our outstanding young crop. It’s a group that’s growing in size and stature at an incredible rate. The halftime statistical frontrunners for our team are Heeney, Lloyd and Hewett for possessions and Ronke and Hayward for goals. We’re a goal up and we’re not relying on the tried and true. This has to be a good thing.


As the tide turns slowly in favour of the home team, our young guns are holding firm. With the final quarter commencing and being two-goals down, red and white nerves are jangling. Can we navigate our way through?


The final portion of the match begins with our tempestuous youth making statements. First, Hayward cruises on to a loose ball and finishes with the absolute surety and class that we’re all becoming so accustomed to. Then, the free-flowing Florent fires a centring a ball to Hewett, who kicks long to our new star, Ronke. He fends, swivels and snaps for his sixth and momentum is clad in red and white.


The Enemy hit back somewhat fortuitously however and with four minutes remaining, our foundations are creaking, but not unstable. These Bloods won’t abandon ship. Hayward again finds space and converts with calmness to bridge the gap. Florent then hits up the irrepressible Parker and we take the lead. We’re charging through the chop.


With time ticking away, Gaz flies back with the flight and then steers it towards this evening’s hero. Ronke marks, goals and leaps in triumph. We’ve stormed home again, but just not at home. Again.


These thunderous come-from-behind wins on the road are worth more than ladder positions may suggest. The rising core of our mighty team will bank these moments for reference when the bigger games arrive. It’s Heeney, Hayward, Florent, Mills, Ronke, Papley, Hewett, Melican, Jones – the future but also very much the present.


As the siren sounds, the opposing centre half-back remonstrates with the officials. In the press conference, the opposing coach bemoans our defensive ‘sophistication’ – a rant lacking so obviously in that very quality. As they lament, we celebrate; and so we bloody should.


We’re dancing in the rain. New Blood has arrived.


HAWTHORN  4.3   5.4   9.6  10.11 (71)
SYDNEY        4.1   6.4   7.7   12.7 (79)

Hawthorn: Gunston 5, Breust 3, Roughead, Morrison
Sydney: Ronke 7, Hayward 3, Parker 2 

Hawthorn: Gunston, Sicily, Breust, Burgoyne, Roughead, Shiels
Sydney: Ronke, Parker, Heeney, Jones, Cunningham, Lloyd 

Crowd: 32,784



About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979


  1. Keiran Croker says

    I agree Joe. The new blood is impressive. Every week Will, Ollie, Paps, etc and now Ronks show something to be excited about. I think we are heading for a sweet spot where the blend of experience, class and youth has us in the frame for another GF and premiership. Not convinced yet that it’s this year, I’m just happy to be on the ride.

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