Round 18 – Hawthorn v Richmond: From Bachar’s Brain Fade to Brilliance

 

As a footballer who plays through defence and the midfield and prides themselves on their kicking skills, I sympathise with Bachar Houli. There’s nothing worse than duffing a kick in the defensive arc, only to watch it sail back over firstly your head and then the goal umpire’s – particularly when it costs your side a win.

 

But a week is a long time in footy, and both Houli and the Tigers responded in the best way possible, defeating flag favourites Hawthorn by 18 points in front of 66,000 fans (me being one of them) at the MCG on Friday night.

 

Most footy fans – particularly Melbourne supporters in recent seasons – know that feeling you get when you know your side just isn’t ‘on’. That was the feeling that I was dreading after watching the first quarter. The Hawks didn’t kick a goal, Gunston hit the post when he should have done better and a casual one-step kick from Hodge was brilliantly smothered by Deledio, who then sent it sailing back over the skipper’s head for one of his three first-quarter goals. For the first time in nine weeks, the Hawks looked slow and the Tigers made them pay at every opportunity.

 

Deledio was looking dynamic and dangerous forward of centre, Miles, Cotchin and Martin were dominating their Hawthorn counterparts and the Tigers were beating the Hawks at their own game. Retain possession, be patient, wait for the right moment to attack and tackle like your spot in the side depends on it. They starved the Hawks of the ball for the majority of the opening quarter and when they did get the footy, their disposal and decision making was un-Hawthorn like.

 

The Hawks surged in the second quarter and my uneasiness subsided. Perhaps Clarkson had given them a rocket at quarter time, reminding them that this match wasn’t a mere training drill like last week. Five goals to Richmond’s two righted the ledger with Gunston, Shoenmakers, Puopolo and Rioli all hitting the scoreboard. A two point lead at the main break was the result but it felt as though neither side had the momentum. The Hawks won the quarter but a couple of lucky goals had given them a helping hand.

 

The Tigers put the foot down during the third term, and even though I had my Hawks scarf on, I couldn’t deny how impressive they were. This game wasn’t just a case of Hawthorn playing badly, Richmond were forcing mistakes from a very well drilled, usually efficient machine. Another goalless quarter from the Hawks and I had the feeling that the game was just about done and dusted. I haven’t checked the stats but there is no way you can win a game of footy going goalless for a half. There were plenty of Richmond pessimists sitting around me though who, it seemed, were preparing themselves for a replay of last week’s heartbreaking end – even though they were leading by 18 points.

 

Deledio’s fourth goal to start the final term was met with a thunderous roar from the black and yellow faithful, before Gunston and Puopolo gave the Hawks the faintest whiff of a stirring last-quarter fightback. But Sam Lloyd put an end to it, coming on as the substitute to kick the sealer form a tight spot in the left forward pocket with two Hawk defenders for company.

 

Being at the game and having a full view of the ground, it was remarkable to see just how similar Richmond’s game plan is to that of the Hawks. They dispose of the ball with precision by foot, their midfield group is mature with a bend of grunt and speed and they have the bookends at both ends of the ground. They have all the tools to be successful and match themselves against more fancied opposition.

 

I left to the chanting of Richmond fans who, by the gusto with which they sang the theme song, had forgotten about last week. My Richmond-supporting friends had not forgotten about me however, and proceeded to remind me of the result with various text messages and social media posts. The Tigers are building an impressive 2015 season.

 

 

HAWTHORN    0.3    5.6    5.8    7.11 (53)

RICHMOND     3.4    5.4    8.8    10.11 (71)

 

 

GOALS

Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Puopolo 2, Schoenmakers, Rioli

Richmond: Deledio 4, Riewoldt, McIntosh, Vickery, Houli, Lambert, Lloyd

 

 

BEST

Hawthorn: Lewis, Mitchell, Birchall, Hodge, Burgoyne

Richmond: Miles, Deledio, Martin, Maric, Ellis, Cotchin

 

Votes: Miles (Rich) 3, Deledio (Rich) 2, Cotchin (Rich) 1

 

About Jeremy Hill

Devoted Hawthorn supporter and University Blacks footballer who spends more time watching, reading and writing about sport than is considered healthy. Like most people my age, I'm 20.

Comments

  1. Rick Kane says:

    Thanks Jeremy for allowing me to live through the pain and horror a second time. I’m surprised you can remember anything after halftime. I know a nice bottle of The Victorian Shiraz assisted me to shut out the Tiger’s light burning bright as it was.

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