2015 Grand Final – Hawthorn v West Coast: They’re the Mighty Flying Hawks

 

Should we be surprised? No. When it boils down to it, the best team prevails most times and Hawthorn were the best team by some way on Saturday. In the week leading up to the grand final the pundits talked of fatigue, travel, the heat, webs and all things footy speak. However, the two simple things that seemingly took a back seat were the most glaring differences between the day’s combatants. Class and Skill

 

A quick glance at the respective teams showed why any talk of an Eagles victory was simply silly.

 

Hawthorn: Three players who had not played is a grand final.

 

West Coast: Three players who had.

 

With such a disparity of experience, combined with the Eagles lack of exposure to the MCG, the Hawks held a 3-4 goal advantage before the ball was bounced. The Eagles turnovers and failure to execute basic skills was clear evidence of that lack of experience and composure under pressure, both imposed and self imposed. The Eagles looked panicked and were ball watching on too many occasions.

 

Hawthorn: Roughhead, Rioli, Gibson, Lewis, Hodge, Mitchell

 

West Coast: Kennedy, Priddis

 

The Hawks superior level of genuine class was apparent from the get go. That Priddis and Kennedy where ineffective only widened the gap. Hawthorn’s second tier players are the equal of West Coast front runners such as Shuey and Sheed. While fèted by Bruce and the Eagles faithful, Naitanui again showed why he is the most over rated player in the competition. Having a big leap does not make you a match winner on the big stage. Nic was dreadful with his usual lack of contested marks or presence around the ground. Actually, all the Eagles big men were just awful and they had no impact on the game in any way.

 

Hawthorn: contested possessions 136, uncontested 301, tackles 59

 

West Coast: contested possessions 120, uncontested 203, tackles 45

 

The disparity in total possessions is to be expected in a one sided match. However, giving a side nearly one hundred easy touches is unforgivable and indicative of the the Eagle’s lack of intensity and the frailty of the defensive “web”. While the days of one-on-one football has gone the way of the VCR, the defensive set up of the Eagles had more holes than the federal budget. Guarding space might work on the bowling alley which is Subiaco but widening that alley by 30m makes that a damn sight harder to do at the MCG. Mind you, I notice that space did not rack up at stat yesterday so well done on that front. Rioli’s ability to get out the back behind the last defensive line meant one of two things. The line was too high up the ground or Cyril had a tunnel.

 

Hawthorn: the most skilled side in living memory

 

West Coast: rabbits in a head light.

 

There were times on Saturday when the Eagles skill execution and turnovers become comical. While the Hawks showed their normal high quality use by foot and hand, the West Coast were wasteful and below top four standard. Sure the Hawks pressure on the ball carrier was intense but when the Eagles lifted in the second and third quarter, any chance of gaining some momentum and confidence was extinguished by poor delivery into their forward line and Hawthorn’s willingness to push back into defence. That suggests the space between the players ears might have needed more attention that the grass they were standing on. How can a defender have 25 uncontested possessions? Easy. Allow Gibson to play a kick behind the ball all day. Which leads us to the coaches.

 

Hawthorn: Clarkson has now stamped himself as one of the great coaches of all time

 

West Coast: Simpson went in with no plan B and got burnt badly

 

The Hawthorn coaching group is now the bench mark of the competition. Just as John Kennedy fostered a huge group of successful coaches such as Parkin, Matthews, Eade etc, Clarkson’s deputies are the most sought after commodity in football. Adam Simpson was appointed at the Eagles ahead of club royalty in Sumich and replaced another club legend in Worsfold. Given how parochial the West Coast are, to appoint an east coaster says a lot about both Clarkson and Hawthorn’s influence on the game. Pity Simpson didn’t pinch A. Clarkson’s lap top when he left the Hawks.

 

Hawthorn: one of the great teams of all time.

 

West Coast: probably a fair indication of where the team is.

 

The West Coast’s rise this year was unexpected given their injuries and represents a tremendous effort from a relatively inexperienced senior coach. Simpson is to be lauded for developing a group of players who were brilliant at home but found wanting away from the confined spaces of Patterson’s Stadium. Obviously he hopes to replicate Clarkson’s achievements in the future but it won’t be with this side and a one dimensional game plan. The Eagles need a midfield that can kick goals and a defensive attitude of win at all costs. They also need to absorb and return pressure for sustained periods and find some help for Kennedy.

 

Hawthorn. You are magnificent. The capacity to make to the difficult look easy, the basics look sublime, now places the Hawks at the top of the heap once again. And who is to say they won’t do it again next year. Sure, in the era of equalisation and the draft, teams are not supposed to have sustained success. Rubbish, the comp has never been more unequal plus, maybe the way Hawthorn goes about their business on and off the field is why Hawthorn has won four from five and Carlton is still wallowing a the bottom of the mud heap like hapless buffaloes. Sure, the superstars are hitting their thirties and the leg speed will start to drop off. What won’t change is their skill level, football smarts and the desire to play for each other to win premierships.

 

Sure, a hat trick of flags would do most clubs but this Hawthorn team had a look about them on Saturday that suggests that four would be a real lot of fun.

 

 

MATCH DETAILS

 

HAWTHORN:  5.0  9.3  14.5  16.11 (107)

WEST COAST:  1.5  3.8  5.9  8.13 (61)

 

GOALS:

Hawthorn: Gunston 4, Smith 3, Rioli 2, Hodge, Roughead, Birchall, Schoenmakers, Hill, McEvoy, Suckling

West Coast: McGovern 2, Darling, Hill, Hutchings, LeCras, Shuey, Yeo

 

Umpires: Dalgleish, Rosebury, Stevic

 

Crowd: 98,633 at the MCG

 

 

 

About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.

Comments

  1. A fair clip for Nic Nat. I must say it was ironic he won mark of the year given he only took about 10 for the season. That said, if he did start clunking marks as a player of his stature should then he’d be a truly devastating player.

    I reckon it might have been a different game had the Weagles taken their chances early dawes and got their confidence up.

  2. Tony Robb says:

    Unfortunately Jeff, Nic Nat averaged 3 marks per game in 2012 and that number has consistently dropped in subsequent years to 2.3, 1.6 and 1.4 this year. His skills by foot are poor and he just doesn’t work hard enough to get to contests. After 125 games I can’t see him improving. Agree about the confidence however the poor skill execution snuffed out any chance of a comeback,
    Cheers
    TR

  3. Damning stats Tony. I wonder if Nic Nat expends too much energy in and around the scrimmages. He’s kind of the biggest small man the game has ever seen.

  4. Ouch. In the Eagles defence I would like to say……..um………err…………

  5. Paul Buxton says:

    S. Burgoyne not in best 6 for “genuine class”? Week in and out I reckon I would have him.

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