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Round 14 – Sydney v Hawthorn: Finally




Not this again.


As the third quarter siren blares Jack Gunston launches the ball goalward. A forty-metre kick from the pocket. No-one’s on the goal line. A couple of red and white jumpers give chase but probably thinking, like we all did, that he didn’t get the kick away in time.


The ball hangs in the frigid air. Hits the ground. Bounces through. Hawks goal.


Surely not?


It’s been a long while since we’ve beaten this mob at the SCG. Neither club is sitting as high on the ladder as historically but it’s always a tense riveting feud. Like tax time the post bye game against the Hawks is an unsettling date in the calendar. Yet I’m drawn to it, moth like. It’s always the game I want to write up first, albeit with an uneasy sense I’ll be composing another game eulogy. But we’ve been on a roll of late and as I walk to the ground, I’m feeling strangely optimistic.


The first quarter is a masterclass from us. Within a minute the Parker, Papley and Buddy combo net our first goal. After trapping the Hawks in their backline Heeney intercepts the exiting ball, bangs it to Buddy but our spearhead isn’t quite able to grab it. Seconds later Jones slices a clever kick to Papley who gets our second major. The Hawks respond with some quick play on. Papley scores again. Hawthorn goes into chip around mode but unlike previous years we seem prepared for the tactic. The game gets scrappy, a writhing mass of colour and limbs. Heeney’s high ball bounces off the Hawks defence into Papely’s hands who chips it forward for Menzel to run in a goal. Jones, in his usual bullocking way, tries to be too fancy and is caught. Buddy and Papley misread each other’s cues but Hayward mops up the mess. Buddy scores again. The Hawks land a couple of swift replies but it’s a very impressive start from the Swans.


Buddy sets the tone in the second quarter. We get a perfect view of his 200th goal at the SCG. But as I feared, the Hawks ramp up the pressure and our composure, on and off the ground, starts to slip. When you pick out the missed calls more than the play you know something’s amiss. Hawthorn cleverly block up the long kick options so we’re having to handpass it around with inevitable calamity. What’s saving us is their inaccuracy. By the end of the second quarter they close the gap to under a kick and it all looked a bit too easy.


No sooner does the comment “they’re controlling the ball better than us” get uttered when Hayward intercepts, launches it to Buddy who marks and scores. A mate’s text comes in: “He’ll get six if he doesn’t get injured.”


The Hawks rally with easy forward entries. Aliir’s two good saves are wasted with turnovers. It’s a war of attrition, both teams hammering away with a point here and there. Buddy’s been stuck on the sidelines for so long we’re afraid he’ll catch pneumonia. Eventually he gets back on, takes a run at the ball, pulls up short and shambles off. When the jacket goes on it seems his 300th game, much like his hamstring, is on ice. I’m cursing the text. Is this the deciding factor in this game?


A last surge by the Hawks. That fortunate goal and we’re only seven points ahead going into the final term. It feels like we had our chances but weren’t clean or collected enough. Yet somehow I’m still confident we’ll get over the line.


Sinclair’s goal buoys that notion.


I’m out of my seat with Blakey’s brilliant mark.


A fifty to Lloyd and I’m thinking we’re on here.


Sinclair launches and crashes face down in the turf, the sickening landing drawing a concerned groan from the crowd. His legs are like a newborn giraffe’s but he eventually rises on his own steam and jogs to the box where one of the training staff falls over him.


Two men down. This one’s going to the wire but the momentum’s with us.


Hayward with an opportunistic soccer shot.


Jones runs down his man to save a certain goal.


Hawthorn close the gap courtesy of a fifty-metre penalty.


Thurlow pinpoints Blakey who gets his second. The Sydney chant gets louder.


We’re pinged for holding the ball. A shocker of a call. Hawthorn scores.


Rampe nails his man in a ripper tackle.


Hawthorn attack. They’re within striking distance but their hesitation lets Dawson crash in for the rescue.


They surge again but it’s too late. The siren sounds and we’ve finally broken the hoodoo.


Keep the faith and it seems anything could happen this season.



This piece was first published at

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