AFL Round 21: Hawks beat Tigers in another game that vindicates my childhood choice

When I was five years old it was 1977 and I was in my first year of primary school.  It was the year I discovered footy.  Duffle coats decorated with footy badges and football heroes’ numbers on the back were the fashion, and footy cards were exchanged like local currency.  That year, more than most at my school adorned themselves in the Richmond colours and while I can’t be sure, it seemed at the time that almost every week Richmond won.  For that reason, I seriously considered taking on the Tigers as my club, but before I did, I thought it best to check with my Dad before making the life-long commitment.  When he told me that he barracked for Hawthorn, my decision was made.  I would be a Hawk – and forever grateful.

Round 21, 2009, and I’m reminded of that life-defining decision made back in 1977.  While we need this win to have any chance of September action, the Tigers, as usual these days, have little more than pride to play for plus the added inspiration of Polak’s return from injury after his near fatal tram accident last year.  Not even ninth spot is up for grabs for the Tiges this year.  But, as is often the case for teams knocking on the door of the eight late in August, Hawthorn’s fate also rests in the hands of other results.  Who knows which Port Adelaide side will turn out to play the Lions at the Gabba in the evening’s other game.?

The first quarter started ferociously enough with both teams fighting hard for the footy before rising star Jack Riewoldt got the Tiger’s opening goal after pouncing on a loose ball.  Richmond looked the sharper side early while for Hawthorn Luke Hodge and Lance Franklin worked hard, the latter racking up the possessions quickly as he moved from end to end.  And while the big man was active in front of goal, his (and his teammates’) inaccuracy was letting the Hawks down.

While Buddy was looking dangerous but inaccurate, it was Beau Dowler and makeshift forward Jordan Lewis who contributed majors for the Hawks to see them end the first quarter four points in front.

At the start of the second term, Richmond’s Mitch Morton managed a lovely snap shot around his body to quickly put the more efficient looking Tigers back in front.  But then a great passage of play involving Chance Bateman, Sam Mitchel and Lance Franklin saw Buddy get his first for the evening.  Shortly after, a great intercept from Rioli saw the ball back to Buddy who selflessly passed it to young Josh Kennedy for an easy goal.  More brilliance from Rioli saw him get a goal of his own but the Tigers were keeping in the contest thanks to another from Morton and Cousins.  At half time, Hawthorn led by 14 points.

Not long into the third quarter Riewoldt got his second to narrow the margin but then Dowler also got his second to maintain the gap.  This was followed by a long bomb from the hard-working Hodge, who extended Hawthorn’s lead to 21 points.  Then a huge hip and shoulder from Buddy on Cousins added some spark to the contest and while it left Benny dazed and confused, the Hawks got another major through Dowler and then two more through a free kick to Michael Osborne and a beautiful snap shot to Rioli.  At the last break it was Hawthorn by 32 points.

The final quarter saw the Hawks finally break away, firstly through Osborne who crumbed a breaking ball off the pack to slot through his third and Hawthorn’s fourteenth.  A couple from Shane Tuck and another from Morton reduced the margin to 19 points but then the Hawks answered back again through a nice running goal to Ben McGlynn and then a fourth and shortly after a fifth to Buddy Franklin who was proving to have a bit of night out.  While Deledio managed a few late goals for Richmond, Dowler got his fourth and then McGlynn and Kennedy each got their second to seal the deal.  The siren sounded with Hawthorn up by 42 points and that, together with the Lions running over the top of the Power at the Gabba, gave the Hawks some hope for September.

Hawthorn: 20.15 (135)
Richmond: 14.9 (93)

My Votes: Franklin 3; Hodge 2; Dowler 1

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