Round 20 – Geelong v Hawthorn: Oh, Cyril!


Hawthorn’s best first quarter of the season and ‘the Cyril Rioli show’ was enough to continue a winning run over an old adversary, Saturday night. Hawthorn 19.7.121 accounted for Geelong 12.13.85.


In front of a midsize 55,000, Hawthorn burst from the blocks with a 7-goal opening term. Best were Hodge’s sublime effort from the boundary and Cyril after spinning out of an invisible revolving door – a portent of things to come. Notwithstanding Guthrie’s late one, the Hawks offensive system and impeccable understanding looked ready to overwhelm them.


Early in the 2nd, Geelong chipped it around until Stokes turned it over. Smith drove long to Gunston, Hodge and onto Breust for the first of the quarter. It was moderately one-sided early, but never dull. Ensuing moments recalled how these teams – not only the fans – have a heartwarming loathing for each other. Selwood and Shiels, Hawkins and Lake and, later, Selwood and Hodge bickering like Frank and Estelle Constanza over a disputed head-high free kick.


Rioli outworked Kolodjashnij, Puopolo’s pass hit him and the Hawks flew out to a 33-point lead.


From here, Geelong arrested their predicament, playing their best through the middle stages of the evening. Milestone man Johnson slipped Stratton to kick a second. His team began to heap up the possessions, and a Hawkins mark and goal followed.


Meanwhile, Hawthorn went from hot to slightly over saucing the Goose. Gunston ignored the feasible Roughead lead and chipped his shot to the Goalkeeper (Bartel). Down the other end it went and scarcely returned for the final 4 minutes – including a fine snap shot from Guthrie in these minutes – Jordan Lewis narrowly missed with 10 seconds left. The margin was 15, at a midway mid-strength.


The premiership quarter began with Mitchell cleverly spotting Smith, who found Gunston for a point, before Selwood won the argument over the head-high. The plaintive Hodge assertion; he had put a little salesmanship into it.


That made it four consecutive goals and it would be personally disingenuous to pretend it did not cause something of a tremor in the force, harkening back to before the republic, to the dark times of the Empire.


Murdoch’s mishandle set Puoplo free, a long entry to a one-on-one (rousing of itself) saw Cyril outmaneuver Enright and run into an open goal (even more rousing). The next 5 minutes were the very best of the night, as both sides took each other on, goal and counter-goal.


Darcy Lang collected a bobbling ball and made it a 9-point game – as close as it would get – before Cyril’s stunning ability to impact a game with a couple of touches came into full view. He took down Guthrie in a tackle to assist Isaac Smith and then did it himself, blazing across 50 for goal number 4, from 8 touches.


The 26-year-old from the Tiwi Islands has kicked 32 goals from 18 games this season, along with his goal assists and defensive heat. He should be All-Australian, but one never knows. Numbers are more measurable than defining moments. Cyril’s originality raises the quality, bursts through the organised and overflows into restless spirits, who dream of being so unbounded. He’s a beguiling combination of fast hands, light feet, vertical leap, swashbuckling boldness, selflessness, romanticism and imagination.


I saw him play his first game in 2008 and, much later, stood next to him in a café and completely froze up, couldn’t speak, feared I would spew. Same thing happened to me mooting, once.


Back to the game, and now Hawthorn’s mixing and matching forward line, the Catherine Wheel Trucker Slim wrote of, was showering light. Hodge’s penetrative kick found Puopolo, Roughead marked for another and then Breust roved the third in the sequence. The Hawks were closing on 100, as Puopolo went up, up and almost viral.


For half of the final quarter Geelong gave all, but were unable to crown the flowing possession. Four shots from Cockatoo, Walker (twice) and Stokes were squandered.


They should have had a couple there,’ I murmured to Hugh. Moments of clarity are short lived. Easier to view it through your one eye and revert to the proverbial, ‘If ifs and buts were chips and nuts…’ or spirit channel Lou Richards from primordial Saturday evening replays, “Bad Kicking’s bad football, Peter” and “When you’re hot you’re hot and when you’re not, you’re not”.


Nobody was hotter than Cyril. A heroic challenge to a lateral defensive pass was like picking fruit. Puopolo combined and soon it was in good hands, Hodge’s hands. The skipper kicked his fourth and then Roughead hooked in a high one. 10 minutes of nothing, two in a minute for the Hawks.


After coming off for treatment, Cyril returned to send us home happy; crumbing a goal from a boundary throw in and then getting on the end of Daniel Howe’s wobbly torp. He finished with 6 goals, 12 disposals and was very best afield.


Both teams will take their positives from the game, both played positively at different stages. Early and late, Hawthorn’s efficiency was superior.


For the Hawks tonight was sensibly about a top 4 finish. For Hawks fans, extending a winning run over the Cats was the spiced sauce. Sure, it’s only 4-in-a-row. But I think the margins are bigger.




Hawthorn                 7.2   9.4   15.7   19.7 (121)?

Geelong                     3.3   6.7   10.8   12.13 (85) 


Hawthorn: Rioli 6, Hodge 4, Breust 3, Roughead 2, Smith, Shiels, Gunston, Puopolo

Geelong: Guthrie 3, Hawkins 2, Johnson 2, Selwood, Lang, Cockatoo, Walker.


Hawthorn: Rioli, Hodge, Mitchell, Shiels, Breust, Birchall

Geelong: Selwood, Guthrie, Enright, Johnson, Hawkins, Lang.

Our Votes:                 Rioli 3, Hodge 2, Selwood 1

Umpires:                   Rosebury, Hosking, Meredith

Official crowd:         55,802 at the MCG


About Paul Campbell

Lawyer, left footer. Loves the Hawks and follows a few U.S sports.


  1. Grant Fraser says

    Paul I plan to take 7 yo Alexis to an open training session before the last round – ostensibly so she can meet the Skipper, but in reality so I can also revisit teen crush (and moot) awkwardness if Beloved #33 happens to stroll by. How we love him. It is as if the elemental, guttural “oghh” was invented to accompany his magic.

  2. Paul, Cyril is great to watch (though he could cease having his 10 touch blinders v Geelong please), but I suspect that if you put him in Carlton, he’d become Chris Yarran. He is expert at removing the cherry from the sundae constructed by his teammates precision buildup. Still, the carnage in the commentary boxes after every bloviating commentator simultaneously blew their loads iduring the last quarter hi-jinks was legendary. Oh Cyril……!!

  3. Great write up PC.

    Mr Orkydd, you could not be more wronger. Cyril would be out and out star whatever jumper he wore. That’s not just my opinion, it’s Hodgey’s assessment.

    Cyril’s Enright goal was football perfection.


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