Power strike, but the Hawks have the candles

Long weekends are usually something you would embrace. Not having to face the early morning chill of the May morning, getting a chance to sleep-in from the comfort of your warm bed, and not having to worry about your workload piled in your locker. Yet, lo and behold, as my alarm accidentally went off in the morning, I found myself pushing the blankets away instead of burying my head into the pillow like I normally do, I felt alive, I wanted to go to school, I wanted to see my friends, I wanted to discuss the new drill we tried at footy training the previous night. But I had to reluctantly pull the blanket back over myself as I settled back into a few more hours of z’s.

At 10:00, I realised I must’ve been sick. Thank god I didn’t have to go to school, thank god the weekend had now started, thank god the footy is back. I exchanged a few texts with a year 12 student, who was at school. The year 12’s were the only kids required at school for the day, no idea why. She didn’t want to be there, she wanted to enjoy the sleep-in I got. It was a knowing feeling, not that I showed any sympathy though.

It was a boring day for me. It was cold, freezing in fact, the type of weather where you can’t feel the tips of your fingers and toes. We had no internet, it was broken, for some unknown reason. Mum knew of the problem, and sensing I was distraught without making the final changes to my Supercoach team, she decided to have a go at fixing it. “Don’t bother, you won’t get it, i’ve been trying since Tuesday”, I retorted. Well, long story short, five minutes later I was navigating my way through the new Footy Almanac website and trading Shaun Higgins out for Drew Petrie. Thanks Mum!

Filling out my footy tips, I thought carefully about what should’ve been a no brainer. Port Adelaide and Hawthorn. A team at their absolute lowest ebb, and a team coming off an 11 day break and one of the contenders for September (but not October, in my eyes). I crossed out the Hawks. Why? No reason, just a feeling in the pit of my stomach that the Power would fire against quality opposition on a Friday night. With the game about to begin, I lamented the fact that AAMI Stadium seems to capture a large amount of dew at night in comparison to the rest of the stadiums when played under the stars. Perhaps this match should be dubbed ‘The Dew Cup’ for reasons other than the surface.

It didn’t take long for me to regret my gut-feeling, either that or the bowl of cheesy-tomato risotto I had for tea was coming back up on me. Brent Guerra had the first shot at goal, but missed. Brent Renouf marked and booted a magnificent goal from 45m out directly in front (it was magnificent for his standards – keep reading, he kicks goal of the year in the third quarter!) Renouf is a weird unit, that is all I can say about him. That feeling came back though. Grant Birchall chipped a short ball forward, straight into the hands of Danyle Pearce, who played on, thinking he was hot, but realised he had ample time and booted the goal. Birchall went back to the midfield, red-faced. The ball is soon back inside the Power forward 50, with Brett Ebert marking on the flank. Kicking in the ‘impossible pocket’, he somehow navigated the ball against the trend of the angle, with the ball curling around the goalpost as if it was instructed to do so. The footy looked weird on my TV with the new set-top box. Analog TV was switched off during the week, and I scored the brand spankin’ new HD box for my room, and the widescreen effect was definitely different on my little telly. It looked like the kicks were short and the players were only looking 15m ahead of themselves. Port started to take the game on though, and all looked normal again, somewhat. Their run was daring, the contested game was back in them, they had some mongrel back. When you associate mongrel and grunt with Port Adelaide, Dean Brogan comes to mind. And Paul Stewart. They have a couple of hard nuts down at Alberton. Domenic Cassisi and Matt Thomas sit on the sidelines, riding every tackle, muscles bulging out of their suits. Perhaps it isn’t all that bleak for the Power? Stewart cleverly tricks the Hawthorn midfield, perfecting a lookaway pass to a leading Justin Westhoff, who duly converted without the added pressure of letting the other mob win their first game in the AFL league. Speaking of ‘that’ game, Jasper Pittard almost made a similarly bad blunder at half forward, dropping an easy mark, but he gathered with no pressure around him and dobbed his first of his career from 45m out, and the Power had jolted out to a lead of 16 points. Sam Mitchell’s shot at goal followed Renouf’s result, and when Liam Shiels was gifted a goal from the goalsquare following a 50m penalty against Alipate Carlile, the Hawks were back within a few points. Hamish Hartlett, labelled the best player Dean Laidley has ever seen, bobbed up to kick a major, giving Port a handy lead at the first break.

A scare was sent through the Port Adelaide army when Daniel Motlop hit the deck in a contest at half forward, and sat up motionlessly holding his shoulder. He was taken from the field as Brendan Whitecross nailed a terrific goal from outside 50 from the ‘impossible pocket’. Robbie Gray snagged one back for the Power, but the sheer determination from Mitchell to win the next clearance resulted in Brad Sewell booting his first. Port Adelaide had the answers again, however, with Jay Schulz becoming the game’s 12th individual goalkicker. Not one multiple goalkicker for the night up to this stage, one man had to stand up. And stand up he did. The crowd roared as this man captivated the Alberton faithful with his skill and finesse, and his ability to win a free kick out of nothing. Renouf found himself with the ball from point blank range, and he booted his second goal, before Lance Franklin followed up from his massive hit on the lightly-built Pittard to snap a great goal from the ‘impossible pocket’. Pittard is a good player, but it’ll take him a couple of years to mature. Even I could knock him over on the footy field.

Scores level going into the third quarter, the Hawks were coming. My tip on the Power was hanging by a thread. Slowly, it regained a bit of credibility. I suddenly had a two-goal safety net to fall back on after Gray and Motlop, who made a return from his shoulder injury, booted goals, the latter a terrific major on the run from the ‘impossible pocket’. The game closed up considerably. Port struggled to hit targets, they couldn’t kick straight, while Hawthorn couldn’t find the goals when it was needed. It took some sheer luck to break through for their first of the second half. Luke Hodge, captain of the Hawks, stood one-on-one in the goalsquare with Tom Logan, who had done a great job of minding him up to this stage. The ball came in, Logan put up a fist. The ball reflected off the clenched hand, into Hodge’s mitts. Whistle blown, mark to Hodge. Logan ripped the umpire a new one, Michael Pettigrew came in to scream more abuse. Good on them, I thought. Might as well scream at them now, since conceding a 50m penalty wouldn’t have made the shot at goal any easier for Hodge considering he could’ve reached over and taken the goal umpire’s wallet out of his pocket. Not that Hodgey would do that, he’s an honest player, but there was nothing honest about the way he grinned and kicked the goal. Sheer luck for Hawthorn, rotten luck for Logan and Port.

Good on you if you kept reading. Here is the moment you were waiting to read about. Imagine it; Nick Riewoldt-esque, running back into a pack with no consent for his own safety, taking the mark with his arms outstretched. Well, Renouf looked ten times better than Riewoldt as he stood with his two feet planted on the turf, held two arms up and plucked it from two-deep. But to embarrass his Port opponents, and perhaps to make it on the top plays of the day for worldwide sport, he cheekily played on and dribbled through his third, with a riveting standing ovation for the big man as he sprinted back to the middle of the ground for the ruck hitout. Even the Power supporters were cheering him on. Scores were still level though. The Power were holding on. 15 seconds until three quarter time, the ball was just inside the Hawks’ forward 50. Bounce, Troy Chaplin missed the ball, Chance Bateman swooped and put Hawthorn in front.

Going into the final quarter, I was asking questions to myself. Would Port Adelaide hang on? Would Renouf go on to play the best game of football known to man? Would I become king of the school for tipping the upset? Buddy said no. With an exclamation mark. One goal from out in the stands, the opposite to the ‘impossible pocket’, the other from a Simon Phillips turnover in the Power forward line, which ended in Franklin’s lap inside 50, with the goal umpire the only person between him and the goals. He sprinted for his life to the goalsquare, only to mistime his kick and make a mockery of the kick, missing the ball altogether. It bounced back up to him though, in only a way Buddy can make it work, and he kicked probably the worst goal of his career. Gray took a good mark on the boundary line for the Power, and not wanting to have a shot, passed ambitiously to Cameron Hitchcock on the lead, who was well covered by Paul Puopolo. The umpire, sensing Port’s plea to stay in the game, or at least show some sort of resilience, blew his whistle out of sympathy, gifting Hitchcock with his first of the season. From the next clearance, Isaac Smith picked the ball up from Jarryd Roughead’s boot, stormed forward and split the middle to seal the game. Renouf was dragged from the field and given the red bib. I booed. Shane Savage finally came onto the field, with a handful of minutes remaining. I would’ve ripped the sub vest off and hit the showers by that point. It wasn’t long until he was in the thick of the action. Kane Cornes and Brogan stood and watched each other look at one another as the ball fell into Savage’s arms. He kicked the goal and put on an emphatic celebration as if he was a man held back for most of the night but was finally released. And released to great effect, too. He sharked a hitout deep in the Hawthorn forward line and snapped his second in as many minutes, and he was pumped. He looked like he could go on and play another four quarters. Unfortunately for him, the siren went. That’s life as a substitute mate.

I didn’t get the result I wanted. Hawthorn won, but they were far from impressive. But speaking of impressive, Matthew Richardson managed to sneak a few words from the mouth of Renouf, who was busy getting mobbed by teammates and opposition alike. Watch out Richo, he’ll have you covered for goals in no time.

Port Adelaide 5.1—7.7—9.11—10.12.72

Hawthorn 3.5—7.7—10.11—15.14.104

Goalkickers:

Hawthorn-Renouf 3, Franklin 3, Savage 2, Smith, Bateman, Hodge, Mitchell, Whitecross, Sewell, Shiels

Port Adelaide-Gray 2, Motlop, Hitchcock, Pearce, Westhoff, Pittard, Ebert, Hartlett, Gray

Best:

Port Adelaide-Logan, Chaplin, Hartlett, Pearce, Cornes, Trengove

Hawthorn-Mitchell, Renouf, Shiels, Sewell, Roughead, Bateman, Smith

Crowd:

21,819 at AAMI Stadium

Votes:

3: Sam Mitchell (H)

2: Tom Logan (P)

1: Brent Renouf (H)

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.

Comments

  1. johnharms says

    Josh, I am more than happy to say that it has been terrific to watch your writing develop over the last couple of years. I really enjoyed this piece. Strong voice. Well-crafted. Thanks. Hope your team finds a few goals up there this arvo. (Keep us posted)

  2. Rick Kane says

    Good write up Josh. And you’re right, the Hawks were far from impressive.

    One thing I’m liking this year, that wasn’t happening at the same time last year is that the Hawks are refusing to yield. They got out muscled by the Cats true, but in a couple of games, this one included, they have stood up when needed. I’m liking that at least.

    The next 5 weeks will reveal the Hawks 2011 true character. We play five heavyweight sides (yes, I include the Saints in that lot). If we can’t win four out of the next five games, we are, as you wittily (cheekily) put it, contenders for September but not October.

    Cheers

  3. Mulcaster says

    This is a wonderfully written article. For my sins I am at work on a saturday afternoon, trying as always to catch up. The early opener across the road is belting out late seventies early eighties pub rock (badly). I am not sure whether it is the bad cover of Angels classics pounding down the street or your being done over by your Mum which has me wishing I were your age again.

    It is a great article, keep dissing you mother, it is worth it in the long run …. you will learn every smart come back to use in another context when you are her age.

    As for the cheesey tomato rissotto…….as a young man you will go a very long way if you can cook….
    Do a basic TAFE course in cookery, you will never regret it and and you will be enormously popular in the not too distant future

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