Round 19 – West Coast v Hawthorn: Nic napped, Paddy whacked, give a flog a moan

9 August, 2015

Coldest day of the Perth winter. Scuds of rain sleeting in and a stiff south westerly gusting toward the city end.

 

Michael Clarke would die for 3 days of weather like this in Nottingham.

 

The Avenging Eagle and I are up for tonight’s game against the reigning premiers. It’s the start of a crucial sequence of 3 home games against the Hawks, Dockers and Doggies. One win is essential and should give us the double chance; two is good; and three would be “hardly sober for October”.

 

I rate the Hawks the most difficult because their kicking skills are far superior to ours. Then the Bulldogs because their leg speed will worry us. And then the Dockers. Because they get no respect (from me).

 

NicNait is out tonight because of the sad death of his mother Ateha in Fiji. She raised Nic and his (very not identical) twin brother in a tough part of Perth after his dad died of cancer when the boys were only 2. Respect.

 

Nic may not be our best player, but he is the one we can least afford to lose. He is our competitive advantage, and it not just his elite ruckwork. His clearances and tackles are second to only Priddis. To make things worse, our improving second ruck Callum Sinclair is a late withdrawal after jarring his knee last week.

 

A wet night helps, but Scott Lycett has struggled to even get a game for Les Everett’s East Perth Eagles in recent weeks. “Brain Snap” Brian Lake is out for the Hawks, but it’s hardly an even exchange.

 

We kick with the tricky wind in the first quarter. Its strong, but across as much across as down the ground. The Hawks are on, but Gunston and Roughead miss easy set shots. Our pressure is intense and the rebound and run sets up a series of goals for Shuey, Cripps, Darling (twice) and Kennedy.

 

Shaun Burgoyne’s knee collects Mark LeCras’ head on the boundary line. I’m out of my seat screaming all the things I refused to say about Adam Goodes a fortnight ago. OK – I know it was accidental contact – but this is a game for pride, second spot and a home final. In my mind the unsociable Hawks deserve whatever they get.

 

Most weeks I am a detached, analytical observer of the footy. But this is a red mist game. Like the mild-mannered Bill Bixby there are a few times a season when the uncontrollable anger rises, and I am transformed into the Hulking green monster.

 

We are 3 goals up at the first break, which seems about right given the breeze. But more importantly we are more than matching them for pressure and ball movement.

 

I gaze longingly at the black storm clouds looming over the 3 tiered stand. Please let it pour now when they have the wind, I pray to the footy gods. But they seem determined to make it a contest of skill and hardness, not luck.

 

The game is an arm wrestle, and the rain does not come until 15 minutes in. But the Hawks handle it better, and they sweep the ball effortlessly from end to end with run and handball for goals to Birchall, Burgoyne and Puopolo. Mitchell could find space in the Tokyo subway. Dunno how he does it. He seems to hypnotise tacklers in the same way that Max Walker did chooks. His disposal is unerring.

 

I decide that I hate him. Mostly because he is so bloody good. He cops the other half of my unspent Goodes quota.

 

LeCras evens up with an entirely accidental (note to MRP) bump to Frawley’s head. Unsociability cuts both ways. Actually it was a tough game with no cheap shots all night. Like Ali and Frazier these are two prizefighters who seem to respect each other, and save the cheap stuff for lesser opponents.

 

Just when the half is about to be called a tie, Schofield intercepts in the centre and his kick catches the Hawks defence out over the back for a strong mark and goal to Kennedy. We lead by 6 points. About right. It’s the most enjoyable contest to watch that the Eagles have played all season.

 

No quarter asked or given. We look like we belong.

 

And we start the third quarter with the same intensity. Goals to Cripps and Hutchings have us 18 points in front at halfway. Brilliant ball movement down the outer wing and our tagger McGinnity takes a strong chest mark in front, 20 metres out.

 

Our Paddy Boy lines it up with same confidence that I approach a straight 3 foot birdie putt. The same alignment – 10° to the right. The same inside out backswing. The same decisive prod at the ball, and the same bewildered gaze that something so simple has morphed into Euclidean geometry.

 

The Hawks run the ball the length of the ground to goal immediately. Twice. F… F… My vocabulary has narrowed dramatically.

 

#22 is someone called Luke Breust that I have nodded at on TV, without realising that he leaps like Nureyev and bounces like Tigga. His legs seem to have carbon fibre springs like Pistorius, and his kicking has the same rifle shot accuracy.

 

I want to hate him, but I can’t. His skill too breathtaking as he brushes off tackles, like Tony Abbott evading questioners.

 

It’s a funny game. On the whole the lesser lights are shining, while the stars are mostly modest by comparison. Lycett is outpointing McEvoy and Ceglar in the ruck, and collecting 20 disposals along the way. Roughead and Gunston are having ‘mares. They seem to be taking kicking lessons from Our Paddy Boy. But Schoenmakers is marking everything and hitting tracer passes. Go figure.

 

We get a late goal to Kennedy, but 4 points is not the lead we needed given the strong breeze. The Hawks are like Muhammad Ali. They can take a punch, but they keep smiling and give it back double. The last 15 minutes have belonged to them.

 

At orange time I tell the AE that we need a miracle now. We look to have punched ourselves out.

 

But we are hanging in there and the Hawks’ usual accuracy has deserted them with several gettable misses. We are hanging on like a staggering boxer that refuses to go down for the count. But we don’t look remotely likely to land a punch.

 

Shiels goals, followed by a magical “hanging in space” grab by Rioli at the top of the square. Cyril is the Chekhov of footballers. A series of dazzling vignettes, that stay in the mind. A chase that forced a Wellingham turnover for a goal in the third quarter. A dropped mark where he landed cat-like and crumbed before anyone else knew he had even spilled it. Not a Tolstoy or a Rembrandt, but who can comprehend that level of complexity? Cyril dazzles and daubs with Monet-like brilliance.

 

I drop my head. But my Eagles do not. We hold the ball in our forward line in the misty scramble. Rosa snaps over his shoulder to get us back to 4 points and then Kennedy goals on the run after quick ball movement down the railway wing. We are back in front with 10 minutes to play.

 

I believe. I believe. God forgive me for ever doubting.

 

But the Hawks believe more. A boundary umpire forsakes the lime for brown and gold, ruling that Roughead’s handball from the first row of seats was inside the field of play. It was the only way Roughy could make a contribution tonight. And it sends Oscar Breust off to the races for his third goal.

 

Great hands by Puopolo from the pocket get the ball through a Maginot Line of Eagles defenders for Burgoyne to goal on the run. We have one last throw of the dice, but Kennedy’s nerve deserts him when he should have passed to loose men closer to goal. Easy to say from the stands (maybe he thought it was Paddy), but he has had his best game for a month and his set shot from the 50 misses agonisingly to the right.

 

The normally reliable Roughead has looked and played like a Shakespearean fool all night, and he gets his minute on the stage with a snapped goal at the death when the rest of the cast were already taking curtain calls.

 

Hawks by 14 points. Deserved (gritted teeth). Felt more like 4 points, but from midway through the third quarter it seemed that the Hawks, Poirot-like, always had the answers.

 

Dr Breust; in the Conservatory; with the Candlestick.

 

I will save making any comment on my Eagles, lest I end up sounding like Nathan Buckley a month ago. We ran up to win at the furlong, but they held us by a neck all the way to the post.

 

Shiels had more tackle than Matt Shirvington. Lewis kept punching like Scotty Palmer. Smith and Birchall were always dangerous with their run and penetrating kicks out of defence.

 

For us, the midfield 3 Amigos of Gaff, Shuey and Priddis worked themselves to exhaustion. Mark Hutchings had his best game of the year, adding midfield grunt. Xavier Ellis saved his best for his old side (haven’t the Xavier’s had a big week after X.Tras top scored for Australia at Trent Bridge). Sheppard, Hurn and Wellingham were tighter than a Bronwyn Bishop smile.

 

Unfortunately we look to have lost Jeremy McGovern to another hamstring twinge, after he battled manfully for 3 quarters combining defence with second ruck. Sad to see Luke McPharlin go down with a similar injury for the Dockers today. Mark LeCras may have given Nat Fyfe a hint about what he needs to do to lose the Brownlow. And NicNait’s availability is uncertain, but we have Lote Tuqiri on standby for the Derby.

 

The Avenging Eagle and I have bought general admission tickets behind the southern goals for the Derby next week. Technically it’s an away game, so I am not contractually obligated to write.

 

Win and I won’t be sober enough.   Lose and AE will have to post bail.

 

 

WEST COAST         5.3   6.5    9.6   11.8     (74)

HAWTHORN            2.3   5.5    8.8   13.10   (88)

 

GOALS

West Coast: Kennedy 4, Darling 2, Cripps 2, Shuey, Hutchings, Rosa

Hawthorn: Breust 3, Hartung 2, Burgoyne 2, Birchall, Puopolo, Ceglar, Rioli, Shiels, Roughead

 

BEST 

West Coast: Gaff, Priddis, Shuey, Kennedy, Lycett, Ellis, Hutchings

Hawthorn: Breust, Mitchell, Lewis, Birchall, Hartung, Shiels, Rioli, Schoenmakers

 

Umpires: Margetts, Hocking, Meredith

 

Official crowd: 34,843

 

VOTES: Breust (H)3; Gaff (WC)2; Mitchell (H)1

 

 

 

Footy Almanac home 

 

Comments

  1. Funny how Kennedy’s best match for a month has him 16 goals clear in the Coleman, although ,given that only the Hawks and Eagles average 100 points a game, does that mean West Coast rely on him too much to win games against the best?
    Darling needs just a little more nous, but I like Cripps who works so much harder than Hill. Give us Corey Adamson for one game at least and please, one of Sinclair or NN for next week

  2. Steve Hodder says:

    PB,
    If you liked Breust, I liked Chris Masten. He looks like he might have a big final’s game in him. Roughy is a damn worry. If we don’t find someone who can mark, overhead, on the forward line and then kick straight I’ll go spare!

    onya

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Very entertaining read,PB just as Haddin dropped the ashes in the 1st test has McGinnity missed goal cost the premiership cup ?

  4. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    Too many superb turns of phrase to count on fingers and toes. After the last few weeks, I don’t like either of you! But I think I don’t like ‘them’ more. Roll on PB.

  5. Grant Fraser says:

    Harmes (note spelling) says Roughie was in

  6. aussie80s says:

    Great report Peter. Thankfully I don’t have contractual obligations as I could never write a report after a loss and I would have too much of the same affliction you had at one stage – “F… F… My vocabulary has narrowed dramatically.”

    The Eagles have really surprised me this year and are a great team to watch despite all the injuries and losses of key players along the journey.

  7. E.regnans says:

    Oh yes PB,
    Superb piece of writing there.
    Love your line in simile. As I’m sure would Tigger and Bronwyn Bishop.

    Have you ever met the dockers who share “your” seats?

  8. Dave Brown says:

    Bonus puts for the title, PB. Breust is an understated superstar – for all of Rioli’s brilliance, Breust does it backwards and in heels… or something. You can tell Schoenmakers is having a decent year because no-one is hating him, least of all Hawks supporters. I reckon Naitanui is your most important player – that you got a reasonable smacking in the clearances is not surprising. As a result the jury is still out.

  9. The goals are east or west PB. Which one are you? Our seats are behind the western side. If I was there, I would come over to check your blood pressure, and accidentally spill my red over your head. Unluckily (or luckily, I don’t think my heart would stand it) I am working in my other job that day. My Avenging Docker is taking our (respectful) eagle friend instead. May the best team win!

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Sometimes it’s cathartic to have a good cleansing moan PB.
    Can the Eagles keep Hawthorn out of the top 2? I’d love to see this match on a hard deck in September with Nic Nat back and McGovern fit. Result may be different. Cheers

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    You need to update your pop culture references PB – it should be “more tackle than Lenny Kravitz”

  12. That Pistorius-Bruest simile is gold.

  13. One thing you failed to factor in PB.

    The Hawks are a ten goal worse side in that stupid clash jumper.

    At least.

    The old Harlequin number was better. What were they thinking?

  14. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great work Peter. Love the Bill Bixby reference. Though Ruffalo has him covered now.
    Caught the end of the game when I got home from the Pies game. Much better footy than I saw at the ‘G.
    Add Nic Nat and it probably goes the other way. Might sit down and watch the derby this week, should be a cracker.

  15. John Butler says:

    In fine form there PB.

    Good that the Eagles have you interested enough for the Red Mist to still gather. My Blues have provided precious few opportunities this season to get really engaged..

    The Derby is an intriguing proposition – you would seem to be disadvantaged personnel-wise, but have the advantage in motivation.

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