AFL Round 22 – Hawthorn v Geelong: When Big Bang Theory Met Intelligent Design … All while they were livin’ in the 70’s.

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If I was Chris Scott I’d be awfully dirty with whoever sub-edited the title ‘Mission Accomplished’ on one of the post-match pieces published on ‘AFL.com.au’.

I would have thought that particular ‘W’, was not anything this ‘thinking man’s’ Coaching Scott Brother, would want to have been associated with.

Notwithstanding that, after what happened in the first half. How completely and utterly Geelong’s run, carry, fling … and make the Sherrin sing, exploded randomly, but still imposing their preferred footy world order all over the MCG …

And Chris Scott did say it, although he qualified it with ‘a little bit’.

So, you have to assess what happened Saturday night at the MCG on something of a ‘Seventies Bell-bottom’ Curve, taking into account the almost ineffable variable that is the ‘Platform Shoes’ each coach forced their team to wear, at various stages throughout the match.

Clarko went all Hawthorn Retro, employing the returning Matt Spangher as a defensive forward. And not a multi-faceted role, the way Jordan Lewis sometimes plays it. A dedicated nullifying presence to deny Harry Taylor freedom and space to run.

What’s more … After taking the first ten marks of the game, Hawthorn seemed to decide they wanted to watch Geelong play. At their best. Up close and personal.

Well, whether it was a conscious decision, or a case of Geelong’s weird science trumping Hawthorn’s attempt at reasonable religion, the Hawks were continually putting their hands up for red garlands, when second-best was only the perplexing hyphenated solution to ‘7 Across’ on the Crossword – Another word for ‘Worst’ in a two-horse race.

Geelong were glowing like Blue Ribbon Merinos, smugly spraying the ball from inside to out, from back to front. From wide on the wings, to the heart of the middle.

And Hawthorn weren’t doing anything about it.

Because they couldn’t?
Because they were exercising a cautious reasonability when uncompromising fundamentalism was called for?
Because, like Max Schmelling famously announced before fighting then young contender Joe Louis, they ‘see something’?

The Hawks saw alot of Cats’ bungholes. They got served innumerable clean pairs of heels. And only time would tell if the decision to change the ‘scenery’ would remain theirs to make.

Thankfully for Hawks fans like me, and in keeping with the night’s Retro theme for Hawthorn, the players, led by Langford, Will Langford, changed the topic of conversation. So well did that work, they continued on, turning a robust discussion into a one-way harangue.

To the tune of ten straight goals.

But again I ask myself, ‘Can we take that change at face value, or do we need to read between the lines?’

Because the specific metaphor for this match was, if I could co-opt that great sage of yore, Con the Fruiterer, ‘Doessi Matta! Coupla weeks these two play again!’

Inasmuch as a storied rivalry such as this ‘Cats – Hawks 21st Century Edition’, can be said to contain any games at all that don’t matter, this Saturday night’s reprisal was palpably on the low end of the ‘Concernometer’ for all involved.

If Geelong won, ‘Blah, Blah, Blah. Home & Away dominance continues. 2008 – 2014 Home & Away contests – Hawthorn 0 wins; Geelong 0 losses.’

Quickly followed by Hawthorn riposte, ‘Blah, Blah, Blah. Grand Finals, Hawthorn 1 – Geelong 0. Total Finals Hawthorn 2 – Geelong 1.

That’s as far as that conversation has been allowed to ‘evolve’ since the so-called Kennett Curse grew past the teething stage and actually started to really bite.

Now that Hawthorn did win. And how. And by how far. And with a tide-reversal that has usually seen momentum surfing the other way … I have to admit to remaining conflicted about how much it should mean.

I had said before the match, I wanted to see us playing to win, no matter what. Hopefully all the way through to, and including the last Saturday in September. In the first half, the Hawks played not to lose.

Or that’s how it looked to me, on face value. I can claim no special insight, or privileged information. Maybe my bias is turning real issues into pantomime dilemmas – instantly solvable when the moment of truth arrives, with the help of the ‘gasping (or in last night’s match – booing) public’, every time ‘the villain(s)’ made a move.

Geelong on the other hand did what they always do. Pretty much how they’ve always done it.

And that’s the thing I wanna really stress here. Apart from two matches where Hawthorn simply didn’t play well enough to be in the contest when it was meaningful … Every other close loss and the few (alright two) Hawthorn wins, have been a result of what we didn’t do.

When Hawthorn didn’t cave, in the second quarter of the 2008 Grand Final. When Hawthorn didn’t despair at twenty points down at Three-Quarter time, of last year’s Preliminary Final. When we kept playing our game, it didn’t matter that Geelong played theirs. Hawthorn just wins.

Geelong’s ability to believe in ‘their way’ constantly though, has almost always lead Hawthorn to stop doing just that themselves. All the while Geelong never has.

Until the second-half of Saturday night’s match.

For the first time in a long time, to my highly biased eyes let me stress, Geelong played with petty expectation only. Sans that indomitable belief.

The differences are hardly drastic. But they were evident throughout the whole match. The way some Cats reacted to tackles. The way some made the most of contact. The way some took running with the ball a step too far.

Was there a conscious intentionality in it? Or, was Hawthorn so undeniable in the end?

I can’t say for sure because of how little this latest rivalry installment means in the grand scheme of things.

I will only say what I’ve always said. If Hawthorn find it within themselves to keep playing their game, no matter how far in front they are, instead of looking to consolidate, when they believe ‘enough is enough’, then they win.

Will Hawthorn remember that in two weeks? Or will Geelong make them forget who they are, what they can do, once again?

I can assure you, it will certainly matter a great deal then.

HAWTHORN        2.2   3.2   9.7   14.10 (94)
GEELONG            3.2   8.3   9.3   11.5 (71)

GOALS

Hawthorn: Hale 3, Roughead 3, Langford 2,Breust, Ceglar, Gunston, Shiels, Sewell, Lewis

Geelong: Hawkins 3, Murdoch 2, Thurlow, Taylor, Motlop, Bartel, Selwood, Duncan
BEST
Hawthorn: Langford (Cobra), Mitchell (gun), Lewis (Dragon), Lake (Red Spot Special), Ceglar (Double) Roughead (Impact), Hale (van Damme-age).
Geelong: Duncan (run), Guthrie (Forrest), Stokes (run), Caddy (hard), Christensen (Target), Enright (Fugitive).
INJURIES
Hawthorn: Suckling (ankle)
Geelong: Kersten (left hamstring)
SUBSTITUTES
Hawthorn: Jonathan Simpkin replaced Matthew Suckling at half-time
Geelong: Jackson Thurlow replaced Shane Kersten in the first quarter
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Rosebury (blind), Stevic (leading), McInerney (blind).
Official crowd: 72,212 at the MCG.

VOTES – (as seen by your one-eyed correspondent).
3 (Saturday Night Fever) – Will Langford.
2 (Red Dead Redemption) – Jarryd Roughead.
1 (Boogie Nights Come Again) – David Hale.

Comments

  1. Nice work Gregor. I’m a firm believer that most games mean something. This one included. The Cats can’t simply say that in 2 weeks we’ll be better. We may not. However the first half was very positive. The second half totally negative. It seems the Cats have learned nothing from the last quarter in the match against Freo a few weeks back. That’s the worrying part.

    Still, I look forward to the rematch.

  2. Steve Hodder says

    Cooee Gregor, just to be pedantic; I think the GF count goes Geelong 1963 & Hawthorn 1989 and 2008. We won last year’s Prelim but I think they’ve also knocked us off in a Prelim – somewhere along the way. So we may have the edge in the finals bragging; but to assuredly beat Geelong in home & away was absolutelyfuckenmagnificentlybloodygloriously satisfying. My oath!

  3. Gregor Lewis says

    Dips, I bows my head to logic, but find that my eyes can’t stop shifting, cutting furtive glances for a loophole that may be real or imagined.

    Having enjoyed the pre-2008 dynamic inordinately, I rather self-centredly feel the Kennett curse years are ‘Reality’ unleashing a long-nursed Kong-sized grudge on my unearnt expectations.

    Nah mate!

    I’m just so tortured by the method and manner of all those ‘shouldabeens’ that ultimately weren’t, I’m like to wear my shoes backwards so I don’t get ahead of myself.

    – Fair Cop Steve. My stats aren’t usually much chop, but I was only addressing the FKC (F#@€$ing Kennett Curse) Era, in this instance.

    I admire and envy your acceptance of victory mate. I’m still waking up with night-sweats of ‘HE KICKS THE POINT!’

    I reckon that’s about where the PAIN became a long-term thing.

    And while Saturday night didn’t hurt. It didn’t HELP ME much either …

    grl

  4. As a Geelong supporter I think that Hawthorn will win the premiership this year – at least I hope they beat Sydney.

    However Chris Scott is playing a long game here – people keep talking about Geelong as though nothing has changed and they are the Geelong of old – they are not – they have now a team that is the 8th youngest in the competition but are still in the top four. that I think is levitation and bodes well for the future – I hope. Ion Scott (chris) we trust

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