Round 2 – Hawthorn v West Coast

BEFORE

 

I had a sense of unease about this game long before I arrived at the G to witness not one, but three, Premiership flags presented (regrettably an event so brief and anti-climactic that I wondered why I’d bothered arriving so early!)

 

I believed my mighty and beloved Hawks could and would win but there were many questions this afternoon. If the opposition has learnt anything from their dismal Grand Final display, how much had they learned and would it make any difference? Can the Hawks’ ‘new’ team really win without Roughead and the incomparable Hodge? Would James Frawley and our other defenders be able to contain Kennedy and Darling who had begun the season in typically ominous form (though they had beaten some very ordinary opposition in Brisbane)? How much of a difference would Jon Ceglar make in the ruck (he was certainly missed against Geelong’s gigantic brigade of ruckmen)?

 

The day was sunny but windy which can upset even the best team’s rhythm. Indeed, as the afternoon wore on, it became both colder and darker, and I certainly regretted my decision not to bring a jumper (and grumbled loudly to my mates about the MCC not turning the lights on!)

 

DURING THE GAME

 

Hawthorn began in a truly business-like way, with fierce tackling and total domination of the possession count from the opening seconds of the first quarter. And who is this blonde, youthful forward taking marks and kicking much – needed goals. It’s James Sicily, Roughead’s replacement (as if??!!!) .  Bernie, my footy-fan mate, met young James several years ago at a players’ function. When he told me his surname, I thought we’d moved the conversation to European countries on our wish list! ‘Did you say the name was Sicily?’ I recall asking. ‘Yep, and they reckon he has some ability.’ On this day the boy from Sicily (?) would score four marvelous goals and ‘stand up’, despite being surrounded by some tough defenders, including the massive Shannon Hurn.  Just maybe,  young Sicily will be part of the next generation of Hawks’ champs.

Who else stood up? Sam Mitchell of course. (David Parkin, a good judge, reckons he should have won about five Brownlows.) Jordan Lewis, a very solid captain’s game. Billy Hartung, so small, so quick, so much potential. Frawley and Stratton who kept Mr K and Mr D to just four goals between them. Josh Gibson, who collected 44 possessions, and that tells us heaps about the modern game – hey, the guy’s a backman!! And Cyril, who’s now so famous and universally admired that no surname is ever necessary! Is he now an equal to that other great modern indigenous player, Andrew McLeod? Methinks yes.

In the end, the Hawks won by 46 points, the 2015 Grand Final margin. My wife and I had viewed the three-peat from our Washington hotel bed at three a.m. on a cold and wet morning. (O what a night!!)

 

AFTER THE GAME

 

This was a satisfying, if grinding, win and the Hawks were far from their best, plus there were too many packs to make this one a memorable game. As always, the main thing is to ‘get the points’, and we did. They still look hungry and with the best coach in the AFL driving them, thus another fine season beckons.

My world felt good after the game, with the Hawks back in the eight, as is their custom. There is no doubt that every team is after them and there is something innately exciting about that. The ‘sexy’ Bulldogs are next on the list. Bring it on…

 

To say the least, as my young Scottish mate observed many times during the game, it’s going to be a truly interesting season.

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