AFL Round 5 – Geelong v Hawthorn: Either way, cracking game

Cats: Momentum_Logo


Early into the last quarter, the Hawks hit the front, for only the third time in this mighty struggle of a game. Some knockabout Cats fans, sitting behind us, who had been keeping us entertained through the afternoon with non sequitur observations and beer-fuelled jokes suddenly got serious. One remarked that these two teams kept the spirit of the game alive. Another added, in preparation of the final result, “Either way, it’s been a cracking game”.

There was a pause, as all around reflected on this simple yet honest appraisal. Then the third lad, dispelling the kumbaya moment said “Nah, Cats’ll win this, they bloody better”.

We all laughed.

Tension eased, momentarily. Then it collected, even more powerfully, and I felt as tight and twisted as a knotted tree. For most of the game the Cats led but I felt (hoped) the Hawks were a heartbeat away from breaking this game open. In the last quarter it seemed like they would deliver on that promise. You could sense that the Hawks felt that way too. They had spring in their run, they moved the ball quickly. Mitch, Birch and Burgoyne created opportunities. But the Hawks didn’t capitalise and the Cats pounced.

Gunston’s point, about 12 mins into the Last, let the air out of the Hawks tyres. Gunston had been terrific all day, one of our best. But goals are like Popeye’s can of spinach to a team, particularly as the time left to play shortens and the team you are playing is Geelong. We needed that goal. In that moment the Cats smelled blood. In the next ten minutes the Cats dominated. First Murdoch goaled and then Hawkins and then Hawkins again and suddenly the lead was out to 17 points.

Hawkins was brilliant. Looking like a Mills and Boons swashbuckling hero, helped by not one but two torn jumpers and then a too tight replacement jumper. You could hear the Cats faithful swoon every time he outsmarted Cheney and every time he hit the ground and rolled and jumped right up. Cheers were matched by love-sighs each time he split the big sticks. He might have been too big for the hapless Cheney but from where I was sitting he was too smart. In fact that is the Cats edge on Hawthorn. They play a (slightly) smarter game. Whether it is Number 20 with his ridiculous overflowing bag of tricks or Bartel or the young, running brigade that fans out into a satellite of loose players or whether it is Harry Taylor.


A key difference between the two sides was Taylor’s game on Roughy. Or just Taylor’s game. If Hodge is the Hawks backline general then Taylor is the Cats. He plays smart, tight, and with flair belied by a defender’s instinct to keep it simple. Ultimately, the Cats backline was the difference. The Cats got it into their forward line only 3 more times than the Hawks but the Hawks were thwarted. I didn’t understand why we kept just bombing it in. Taylor and co were more than capable enough against that plan. When the Hawks found a player with piercing kicks (our first two goals) it seemed to rattle the Cats. When we bombed it in, more often than not, we lost possession. Against a lesser side going the bomb might be worth the risk. Against the Cats, not so much.


In the end the game was the winner. Bullshit. The Cats were. And that hurts. It hurts to know that a game like that is there to be won. The result rested on a difference of one or two kicks for most of the time and the stats (that matter) indicate that there was a bee’s dick difference between the two sides. But the final result is the stat that matters most. Clarko needs more than his stubborn belief in letting games test players to defeat Geelong. As good as the Hawks are (and this game is living proof to Cats and Hawks being the competition’s measure) the Cats keep beating them. In brawn, brio, skill and wills it is measure for measure. To outplay and defeat this dreaded foe, the Hawks must outsmart them.


Our votes: 3 – Hawkins (G); 2 – Taylor (G); 1 – Mitchell (H)


  1. Great work Trucker. As I’ve mentioned on another post, I heard this game on the radio whilst hurtling down the Western Highway. It was a cracker to listen to. Would have been a cracker to watch.

    This year the Cats have Hawkins back, and 2 ruckmen. It seems to be making a difference.

  2. Stainless says

    Sorry, Trucker, but football was the winner.

    The game desperately needed a top quality spectacle in front of a big crowd to remind us all of what we’ve known and loved for so many years. The AFL heavies would be breathing a sigh of relief at the standard of play and the size of the crowd (despite their best efforts to sabotage the latter with their latest ticketing bungle).

    As for the result – these two sides have positions 1 and 2 locked in. September meetings will be the only ones that count.

  3. Hodge was quiet all game, then Clarkson put him in the middle to start the fourth quarter. He proved an impelling force for 5 minutes and I thought the game was his (and the Hawks) but then he was quelled. Game over. Funny old game, I thought, not of the standard of many of the past 13, but still very enjoyable.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I am with , Stainless the game desperately needed a cracker there has been a lot of diabolical footy so far in 2014 we needed a reminder of what the game can be
    Taylor is a gun and is the best tall defender in the game . Quality ruckman are vital and some how Hawkins back is back

  5. Nice report Trucker.

    Look elsewhere for the 2014 premier I fear.

    Tarte tatin came to mind while watching this one.

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