AFL Round 7 – Hawthorn v Sydney: Mountain-sized challenged for the Swans

How can you improve on perfection?  Actually, ‘perfection’ might be a bit of a stretch… But 2012 was pretty damn good. Last year, was the greatest year of my life. Whilst I fought my way through the perils of my final year of VCE, 2012 had it all. The most rich and intense year I’d ever experienced. I turned 18, I went to parties, I traveled to India, and I did a lot of homework. I was honoured to lead my school as a college captain, I stumbled my way through the exams and I somehow managed to get into my dream uni course. Oh yeah, and the Swans won the bloody Grand Final and I was there to see it.

 

I like to imagine it as though I had been climbing a giant mountain. Last year, I reached higher than I ever had before. I didn’t even think it was possible to go that high. There are clouds above me though. I can’t see whether the mountain keeps on going. I sure hope so. I don’t want to have reached the top yet! Surely there’s more to see!? I’m getting nervous. I’m thinking of the negatives. What if it doesn’t get higher? What if I’m at the top? What if I miss a step and hurl back down to where I had started? The saying ‘it’s all downhill from here’ takes a different meaning. I never wanted there to be a downhill. I want to climb higher and higher and live on the peak forever.

 

Anyway this story is about football not metaphors. The point I’m getting to, is that I can’t even imagine a year that would be better than 2012. And the only disadvantage to being so high, is the drop beneath.

 

The reality is, that as good as that year was, 2012 was over. It’s a new year I’m faced with different challenges. But this year seems different. I experienced what I thought was the best of life. Now what happens? It’s the same on the field. The Swans no longer flew under the radar. People know about their depth. And people, including myself, expected big things – mountain sized things.

 

So Saturday night was a family occasion. I took my Grandad, uncles and cousin into the members. As we found our seats for the first time this year, there’s no way to forget the last time I stood in this stadium.

 

 

It was a perfect night. There were no excuses for sloppy skills. The crowd was louder than I expected, and there was a constant hum around the ground. One team wanted revenge, the other, consolidation. It was pretty obvious that this wasn’t just another match. Much more was on the line. Respect. Rivalry. Confidence.
The siren sounds and happy memories are soon replaced by a gripping nervousness. Reid marks early. That’s a good sign. I don’t feel like he owns his position in the team yet. He won’t be dropped. But he hasn’t nearly lived up to the expectation he’s been given.

Franklin busts out of no-where. Shoots from the 50 boundary, it’s a goal. He breaks his goalless fortnight. Typical.

Gunston turns and snaps from the same spot. What is going on out there? Another Franklin goal leaves the premiers stunned.

The Hawks are able to open the play up. Providing a time and space for the forwards to rush in and kick a goal. It’s only early, but the Swans already looked panicked.

Hardworking Goodes gathers the ball from the centre and delivers to Pyke who marks strongly. The Canadian’s approach to our game has me inspired. His improvement and workrate is second to none. He is rewarded with the Swans first goal for the night, and only for the quarter.

The margin is 23 points. 4 more than the first quarter deficit of the Grand Final. Either way, this is going to be a tough night.

 

Someone behind us yells ‘YOU’RE BORING SYDNEY!’ I think to myself, ‘I’d rather be boring than not be premiers’. I tell myself that many times. The loudmouth behind us does have a point though. Hawthorn seems to be able to produce a goal with 5 kicks and 20 seconds of play. But the swans have to find possession, chip it around, then find the perfect set shot for goal, and then go back, and maybe miss and then start all over again. It takes four times as long!

If Sydney were a flashlight, Hawthorn would be a firecracker. Both provide light, but one is more interesting to watch.

 

Roughead kicks a goal within the opening minute of the second term. It’s starting to become disastrous. And just when Sydney needed some luck, the bounce that followed Kennedy’s shot at goal would’ve impressed Shane Warne, and Swans were not in sight of letting this game blow out yet.

Lance Franklin had different ideas. He takes on 3 Swans with the ball in one hand, like a 16 year old in Under 12s, and snaps his third for the night.
With more chips than a packet of Smiths, Ryan ‘Norm’ O’Keefe marks on the 50, who goals from the set shot. Benny McGylnn is also playing well, he runs in to give the premiers consecutive goals.
Despite having most of the possession, Sydney squandered most their chances, whilst Hawthorn’s efficiency gave them the upper hand.

From outside 50, Roughead drops the ball on his boot and celebrates as the ball curls through the uprights. Moments later, Gunston finds his third goal courtesy of a Bruest centre. A 34 point margin into half-time isn’t ideal.

Hodge is on fire. In the guts, and up forward. He slams one home running into the arc. But it was the former Hawk, Kennedy that lead the fightback. He was producing more clearances than JB Hi-fi! His goal at the 20 minute mark gave me hope. But that was soon squashed by the giant Hawthorn forward line. The big men, Hale, Roughead, Franklin and Bailey were taking advantage of the missing Sydney defenders, LRT, Shaw and Johnson. The Swans, on the other hand, had no forward line to speak of. For some reason they persisted to bomb it in long and high for Lake to punch out. Blazing away into the forward line, Sydney robbed themselves of the hard work they put in the centre, by giving the ball over when they moved forward.

 

The game seemed pretty much over from here. Last September never felt so long ago. Hale plucked another mark from a pack. He went back and kicked his third. The big men were killing it, and Bailey was loving the absence of Shane Mumford. Gibson was a rock down back. He could be excused for letting young sub Jed Lamb take a mark 40 out, go back and slot his first AFL goal.

I promised myself I wouldn’t get too excited after set shot goals from Bolton, White and Goodes brought the margin down to 5 goals.
Then the game got a little bit ugly. Even though the result had been decided, the amount of flack the umpires copped after disallowing a review goal from the hawks was unnecessary. Sure, it was a bad mistake that was poorly handled, and I’m not about to rant on about here over the train-wreck that is the DRS, but in the end it didn’t count for much.

The gutsy Hawks ran away with it in the end. No consolation prize for last year’s defeat but the win sure gave them the confidence they wanted heading towards 2013’s mountain.

 

The siren sounded, but instead of the relief or nirvana that I experienced last September, a hollow and somewhat vexed feeling had me. Where does this lead Sydney for the rest of 2013? Don’t tell me things can’t get better…

 

The mountain that I’m climbing this year may in fact be a different mountain than what the Sydney Swans face. But will it get higher or will it get better? I certainly hope so. I guess the only way to find out, is to start climbing once again.

Up,

Cobba.

HAWTHORN             5.3   11.3   14.6   18.11 (119)

SYDNEY SWANS    1.4     4.5     7.7    12.10 (82)

 

GOALS

Hawthorn: Roughead 4, Franklin 3, Gunston 3, Hale 3, Bailey, Breust, Hodge, Osborne, Burgoyne

Sydney Swans: Kennedy 2, McGlynn 2, O’Keefe 2, Pyke, Parker, Lamb, Bolton, White, Goodes

 

BEST

Hawthorn: Hodge, Roughead, Gibson, Gunston, Birchall, Hale, Lake

Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Goodes, McGlynn

Umpires: Dalgleish, Nicholls, Meredith

Official crowd:  54,725 at the MCG

Our votes: 3 Hodge (H), 2 Roughead (H), 1 Gibson (H)

About Jake "Cobba" Stevens

Jake "Cobba" Stevens is currently studying Sports Journalism at La Trobe Uni. One of the youngest 'old bloods' supporters in Melbourne, he can't decide if the crowd was louder at the 2005 or 2012 Grand Final.

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