Round 1 – Hawthorn v Geelong: Rust?


Cats: Momentum_LogoHillard O'Donnell and Associates





Approximately six months after the Hawks demolished the Swans in the 2014 Grand Final the first round of the 2015 AFL season got under way over the (Catholic) Easter weekend. While there was plenty of action over five days the footy fraternity was holding its collective breath for Monday afternoon’s traditional blockbuster between the two best teams of the last decade. This game has, in recent years, truly announced that the footy season is back, bigger, bolder and better than ever before. The betting had Hawthorn as favourites but you never (ever) write the Cats off.

So it was that as the game approached the nerves and doubts and unreasonable yet convincing voices found their way back into my life, my house and finally they settled like old dogs in my craw. The Cats rivalry has not been good for my existential well-being.

We are nothing if not part of something bigger. So while my anxious self performed Alan Turing level mathematical whatifs I also allowed reality its due. What accountants call actuals against forecasts.

The first of these came in the form of an Age article on 4 April. Interviewed by Peter Hanlon, Geelong great James Kelly said he regarded Hawthorn as “the better side”. He went on, “the ones we’ve (the Cats) won we’ve been maybe a little bit lucky”. Suffering succotash! Did he say that? Really? He went on further, dipping his lid to the reigning Premiers, calling the Hawks fantastic and “the best side in the competition at moving the ball from the contest to space on the outside”.

On Sunday, Channel 7 screened the 2013 Preliminary Final. The game where the Hawks finally broke the back of that stupid curse. It’s a riveting contest played at full pace with sublime skills. 25 mins into the second quarter the Hawks were trailing the Cats by 10 points. Commentator, Dennis Cometti talking about Hawthorn said, “I feel like, for the players, their legacy is on the line tonight”. After a see-sawing three quarters, the Cats still led by 19 points in the last. The Hawks did not let their legacy down. They went on to win the Premiership.

The third positive omen came during the pre-game drills. And I’m not talking about the Hawks banner with its hashtag, #Playlikechamps, even though I thought it cool. As the boys were going about their business my daughter Mercedes, who plays for the Darebin Falcons whispered, “Wow, their warm-up is more intense than our general training”. And I thought of the pre-season news and pictures that flowed from Hawks HQ. The team looked great all through the summer break; muscled, fit and hungry. Preparing for a mission. Intense.

As for the Easter Monday clash? It ended with a whimper, not a bang. Hawthorn won. Convincingly. It took them a quarter to find their groove and then for two quarters they let rip. Ominously. James Kelly may as well have been a gypsy fortune-teller in his Hanlon interview when he said how good the Hawks are at getting the ball to an outside running player (or, more correctly, players). Time and again the Hawks turned the Cats inside out then smashed their defence with this play. From high up in the Southern Stand, behind the goals, the Hawks style looked awesome. And I mean that in its current etymological and linguistic use. They looked frickin awesome man.

The speed at which they moved the ball was almost balletic when it wasn’t Joycean. The tackling took up where the 2014 Grand Final finished off, as if that was only the week before. Kicking was good but definitely early season standard. Players were hard at the ball. Even with seconds to go in the game Duryea hit Bartel (fairly) with a force as if this was a one point game rather than a 60 point thumping.

And this was Hawthorn with rust still formed (but flaking) on its exterior; the bodywork. Some players had more rust than others. Lewis, none. At moments you could feel (almost see) the rust crackling and falling away. With rust on, the Hawks still scored 17.21. With the rust removed, it’s easy to imagine it would have been a 100 point win.

The Hawks are at the top of their game, even before the season really kicks in. The best players were its core – Lewis, Hodge, Mitch, Burgoyne, Lake, Roughy, Rioli, Hill, Bruest and Gibson. One can only wonder what the team will look like with Spangher, O’Rourke, Whitecross, Hale and Birchall back in the mix.

Even if the game didn’t live up to its usual standard, the Hawks did reveal enough for its fans and footy purists to know that the promise is real. This game told us more than enough to know that (to borrow from Rumi), the mirror of the Hawks heart will brighten as the rust clears from its facade.

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day


  1. They were superb RK. No question. They made the Cats look pedestrian (maybe the Cats ARE pedestrian?). Can’t recall too many sides moving the ball with such skill. As I’ve commented elsewhere on this site today, Chris Scott is going to learn a lot about coaching this year.

  2. aussie80s says

    Geez it is nice to finally defeat Geelong on Easter Monday. Every year we were conceding starts to other clubs by missing out on these 4 points but still bouncing back to be minor premiers (or close to). Now we have a chance to set up the season from the beginning.

    Hawthorn were a bit rusty at times but there were worrying signs for Geelong. Apart from their stars, their next tier seems fairly ordinary. A few of these Cats have been hidden behind the deeds of champions but as their ranks thin and they are thrust into the limelight they seem no more than a pedestrian mid range team….but my heart will not bleed for them. Geelong are still too good not to bounce back and I anticipate a much more lively re-match mid year.

    Back in 1990, when we last defended a back-to-back, we also beat Geelong comfortably in the opening round before stumbling against Essendon in round two. We again face a similar start to the season. To defeat two arch enemies to launch a campaign would be awesome.

  3. And you reckon these blokes are rusty Truckster? They looked well and truly swiss-watch-precision oiled to me, brother.

  4. Rust Never Sleeps.

  5. daniel flesch says

    There certainly was rust , Trucker old son . Last year’s G.F. was over by quarter- time. On Monday it took them till half-time to wrap it up. #not good enough.
    But seriously , watching on tv , Clarko did his angry rant expression when someone kicked a point in the LAST quarter when everyone else had lost interest , just awaiting the final siren. Great coach , but his fuse needs lengthening.

  6. Hawthorn made Geelong look almost as bad as North Melbourne.
    I was cursing the Hawks in the final quarter because they kept missing goals.
    I wanted Geelong to end round one on the bottom of the ladder…
    Damn you rusty Hawks.
    Learn how to kick straight.

  7. Well Matt, there’s always next year. Geelong aren’t going to improve dramatically, nor will Hawthorn decline dramatically in that time.


  8. You know how I feel about your Hawks, Rick. And hope that wasn’t rust they shaking off; hope it was the first symptom of a cluster of incurable illnesses at Glenferrie (boomshakalaka!)

  9. Todd Allison says

    Given the Hawks didn’t turn up in the first quarter and pulled up stumps at 3/4 time it was pretty ominous.

  10. Rick Kane says

    Thanks for the thoughts and opinions guys. As we know, it is still only the first week of a very long season but the Hawks looked like it was the week after the GF.

    PB, please don’t remind a man who is on the dark side of 50 that rust never sleeps. I feel it as I get into bed at night and then again when I wake and stretch every morning!


  11. bernard whimpress says

    If you’re on the dark side of 50 Rick you’ll know that there’s nothing current or contemporary about the word ‘awesome’. It’s bloody well been around since you were in short pants. I first remember it being applied to Greg Norman’s driving distance and that was before ‘The Shark’ was so christened. In my youth in the 60s we had ‘fantastic’ (FAN TAS tic), ‘terrific’ (triffic) and fabulous (fab). In the 70s everything was ‘incredible’. Those words all had there day but bloody ‘awesome’ just won’t go away.

    The Hawks might be good so what’s wrong with wonderful, marvellous, phenomenal, stupendous, overwhelming, superb, sensational, astounding etc. – even ‘awe-inspiring’ would be a change.

    Sorry man, it was a good piece but what a difference one word makes.

  12. Rick Kane says

    Hi Bernard

    Thanks for your view of the term awesome. Other phrases I could have used include formidable, amazing and heart-stirring. And here’s a couple of faves from my youth (the ’70s): ace and shit-hot.

    In using the term awesome (and giving it a tongue in cheek context) I was attempting to humorously encapsulate all the above synonyms, by falling back on a term that is (to quote Urban dictionary) “a ‘sticking plaster’ word used to cover over the huge gaps in one’s vocabulary”. I was also unashamedly trying to win the youth vote. I will leave it up to the reader as to whether I succeeded in achieving one or the other or both.

    Whatever term might best describe the Hawks game, I will say this. The Hawks were “Dy-no-mite!”

  13. How can the Cats suspend Motlop for drinking 3 days before after his performance? Enright, Rivers and Lonergan played like they’d had a skinful that morning.

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