Finals Week 2 – Hawthorn v Adelaide: Too Old, Too Slow…Too Good

Semi-final: Hawthorn versus Adelaide

7.50pm, Friday 18th September, MCG


After an uncharacteristically tactless performance against the West Coast Eagles the weekend prior, the experts had come out in force to write-off the brown and gold once and for all. “Too old, too slow,” they said, as if we hadn’t heard it all before.


All and sundry were lining up to explain why the Hawks were gone – how the once formidable Luke Hodge had lost his assertive edge, how Mitchell couldn’t run (we knew that already) and how the Jekyll and Hyde-like Brian had lost the plot and would be dropped.


They spoke of the once-mercurial Luke Breust, of Roughy and the fact neither could hit the side of a barn door. They talked about the once impervious twin towers of David Hale Big Boy McEvoy, neither of whom could contest the ruck in the manner of Nic Naitanui or Aaron Sandilands. “Should Ceglar be given a go?,” they asked.


Isaac Smith was lame, Frawley couldn’t play and Birchall was timid. Lewis was likely to come out swinging. His footy was no good. And where were the little men, Puopolo and co.? Only Cyril escaped criticism. Oh Cyril.


And Adelaide had Patrick Dangerfield (for now). He’d sort out the absent Hawks. And he’ll win the Brownlow, if Fyfe doesn’t. Maybe they’ll share it?


The week-long derision bode well for Hawthorn, a club that prides itself on its performance on the field and its organisation off it. The two are inextricably linked and both form the foundation of a club that has enjoyed sustained success the envy of many.


When the ball was bounced to open this do-or-die semi-final, it was Hodge who made sure his club, the supporters, his coach and his teammates wouldn’t disappoint or be disappointed. After he intercepted a kick-in and lined up to slot through his first of four goals, the captain’s men gathered around him as if he’d just kicked the first of his career. Such was the importance the reigning premiers had placed on getting off to a good start.


And it continued from there, unabated for four quarters of textbook footy from the best in the game. Hawthorn was razor-sharp, cutting-up the Adelaide defence with spectacular pace and precision through the midfield.


Luke Breust answered his critics by rapid-firing three opening-term goals, each one as freakishly beautiful to observe as the rest, even when kicking from a set shot. He would finish with six in all.


Sam Mitchell was everywhere. Josh Gibson and James Frawley were like the Maginot Line in defence, aided by Dr Jekyll, a.k.a. ‘Good Brian’, who led from the front with his customary anticipation of the flight of the ball on every occasion. Ben Stratton kept the usually-lively Eddie Betts quiet and that’s how things remained for the entirety.


The Hawks had an ominous six-goal lead at the first break, Isaac Smith’s run and carry before scoring his first goal emblematic of the Hawks’ lightning thrusts forward when in possession, his once-dodgy knee now a fading memory.


Other than a questionable free kick and goal for a deliberate out-of-bounds against Hawthorn, the only first-quarter high for the Crows was a miraculous banana kick from the boundary which saw Patrick Dangerfield score his only goal of the match.


In the second quarter Betts had his chance to shine as he often does around the corner near goals but Poppy would have none of it, his tackle typical of the immense pressure Hawthorn applied all night, giving the Crows little if any room at all to breathe.


The Hawks continued to defend with tight-control and counter-attack with pace. Hodge, leading by example all evening, repeatedly presented and dominated the contests, banging and smashing a path to the ball before directing it meticulously by hand or by foot, to a waiting teammate or through the sticks.


By half-time Hawthorn’s lead was extended by another couple of goals (Hodge a contributor once again) and the critics had gone quiet.


In the third term, the some-say recently-maligned Jarryd Roughead got in on the act with a long bomb on the run out of the centre square. He’d repeat that effort in the last.


The final term was a procession and by the end of it Hawthorn had ten individual goal-kickers, Breust with six, Hodge with four and Smith, Roughead and Lewis with two each.


Dockers coach Ross Lyon, who was watching from the stands, told the Channel Seven commentary team, the match looked very much like circle work at Waverley Park. And it did.


Fremantle would be next.


Hawthorn     8.4   11.6   16.7   21.9 (135)

Adelaide      2.2   4.3  6.7  8.13 (61)



Hawthorn: Breust 6, Hodge 4, Smith 2, Roughead 2, Lewis 2, Suckling, Schoenmakers, Rioli, Hill, Puopolo

Adelaide: Jenkins 4, Lynch 2, Dangerfield, Walker


Hawthorn: Hodge, Breust, Mitchell, Frawley, Stratton, Birchall, Gibson, Burgoyne

Adelaide: Dangerfield, Lynch, Talia, Laird, Jenkins, Jacobs, Thompson


Umpires: Rosebury, Chamberlain, Jeffery


Official Crowd: 70,879 at the MCG


Our Votes: Hodge (Haw) 3, Breust (Haw) 2, Mitchell (Haw) 1


  1. Grant Fraser says

    Sasha – Mr Hyde made a brief cameo toward the end with the look away handball over the shoulder to no-one in particular. We can only hope Briiiiian is off the evil juice this week.

  2. Yes Grant, that’s true, Bad Brian made a brief appearance, but I think Good Brian might dominate for the next couple of games, hopefully. Either way, I get nervous whenever he’s near the ball. Got to love at least a little unpredictability. Cheers

  3. Nice one Sash. I’m not the best judge of form in football, but I was confident that the Hawks would wipe the Crows. There’s a massive chasm between the two, plus the Crows form wasn’t that great heading into the finals. The fact that the Cats smashed them just a week out from the finals confirmed in my mind they wouldn’t go far. So, as much as the Hawks bounced back in such an impressive way last week, the opposition wasn’t an Eagles or a Dockers. Which brings us to this week. Back to the West for the Hawks. Your Hawkies have already fallen to one of them this finals series, and I suspect they’ll fall again to another. It will be fascinating to see what two of the best coaches of our time come up with to pinch the win. No doubt there will be some masterly moves made by both, but I feel the Dockers will be able to execute them just that little bit better. The Hawks have already had a tough finals series and the ask to perform at such a high level again will be too much. Sorry mate, but it’ll be an all WA grand final this year. A couple of things I wouldn’t mind you writing about would be whether you think Clarkson is the best coach ever, and whether you think this current Hawks team is as good as, if not better than, the team of the 80s. Cheers ; )

  4. Thanks Matt. Yes, this week will be tougher though I reckon the Hawks will do it. They match up well against the Dockers and if let loose will turn them into witches hats, which I witnessed in Tassie earlier this season. Plus, the Dockers, as well as they defend, just don’t kick enough goals against Hawthorn in my view. But over in the west it will be tougher for the Hawks.

    Clarko – very good coach. I reckon we need to see how he goes this season and in the next few as the likes of Hodge and Mitchell move on. I don’t think this team is quite up to the Hawthorn of say, ’88 / ’89 (imagine Hodge in that team!) but if they go on with it this year they’d be close. Cheers

  5. Yes, it was a great game and did put a lot of the negativity to rest. Great write Sash. Carn the Mighty Hawks!

  6. Thanks Mum. Hopefully they’ll repeat the effort this Friday night against Fremantle. I think they might.

  7. I miss VFL park …. and i love your weekly Brian Lake personality profiling.

    Great story Sash…. As always. Go Hawks.


  8. Great review Sasha, look forward to reading another great instalment as we march to another GF

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