Round 4 – Hawthorn v St Kilda: The Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania
Hawthorn v St Kilda
2.10 pm, Saturday 16 April, 2016
Aurora Stadium, Launceston
Gareth Meyer

 

Birchall and Baldock. Hudson(s) and Howell. Brown and gold, and red, white and black run deep in the island state’s footy DNA. And on a fine autumn afternoon, an expected gentle run in York Park for the premiers proved a battle for the spirit of Tasmania.

 

An outing at Lonnie (note to mainlanders: it’s ‘Lon – ceston’ not ‘Lawn’) usually means old-fashioned footy at its best. The frank remonstrations of rusted-on supporters aren’t absorbed here as they are in the cacophony of the MCG. And natural elements – wind, rain, even lightning – often prove the difference between sides. Today, though, Hawthorn’s three-point great escape may have owed more to the men and women in high-vis yellow and dull grey.

 

Sam Mitchell’s career-best, 44-possession count was remarkable, but indicative of a lack of other major ball getters. Cyril was kept to nine touches and younger Hawks found the Saints’ pressure a bit too much to handle. Still, flashes of brilliance kept the Hawks in the contest. In the third, in particular, two lengthy chains of looping handballs connected the run-and-carry of Hartung and Mitchell with the youthful goal kicking of Sicily and O’Brien.

 

The Saints though boasted more possession, matched the Hawks for efficiency, and extracted more ball from the middle. Young and old, and those in between, shared the heavy lifting. Montagna and Riewoldt clocked up 50 possessions between them, Armitage mustered 35, while a solid 19-year old named McCartin displayed strong hands at the back of packs.

 

A subdued local crowd seemed, for the most part, resigned to the premiers doing their rejuvenated opponents slowly. But tongues were set wagging and mullets shaking when the Hawks, entering the final ten minutes, seemed in genuine danger of a rare defeat at 41 degrees south. Spraying one directly in front, Breust seemed haunted by footy flashbacks of Huddo’s 1971 grand final performance against the Saints.

 

The real howlers, however, were reserved for those officiating proceedings. Yes, they clearly got the ‘war on short kick’ memo during the week. And as the whistle blew too much and too little, the Saints were crucified in their defensive zone. Lewis and Breust took full advantage to see the Hawks home.

 

Postscript:

 

Peter Hudson’s dominance in one-on-one contests hastened the introduction of the centre square in VFL football. The salary cap, the draw and the draft also aim to prevent unhealthy dominance by the likes of Hawthorn. But Clarkson has demonstrated that rules and restrictions encourage adaptation. With two great escapes in two weeks, Clarko may just need to summon some more innovation if his troops are to become less ‘unconvincing’ in 2016.

 

Scores

Hawthorn                    5.2       8.2       10.4     13.9  (87)

St Kilda                       2.2       7.3       10.4     13.6  (84)

Goals    Hawthorn:       Breust (2), Sicily (2), Ceglar (2), O’Brien (2), Puopolo (2)

St Kilda:          McCartin (2), Riewoldt (2), Bruce (2), Minchington (2)

Best     Hawthorn        Mitchell, Lewis, Birchall

St Kilda:          Armitage, Savage,

Umpires          Pannell, Stephens, Fisher.

Crowd 15, 173

Our votes      Mitchell, Armitage, Riewoldt

 

About Gareth Meyer

Part-time food, wine and travel writer (and photographer), Hawks supporter since Huddo senior had the football on a string, proud owner of Martha the toy poodle.

Comments

  1. Dave Brown says

    Good stuff, Gareth (although somewhat alarmed my daughter and your dog share a name). The Hawks’ scoring ability is down at the moment. In the past when Roughead has been out Gunston and Breust have kicked a lot more goals and they both seem just a bit subdued at the moment (granted Sicily has stepped up). Will be an intriguing tussle with the Crows this weekend.

  2. Gareth Meyer says

    Thanks Dave. Worried a bit about Hawks’ lack of centre clearances and uncharacteristic errors lately. But plenty of upside when others return. keep any eye on Kieran Lovell at Box Hill. Could be our future in the middle. I went to school in country Tas with his father.

    Martha – great name. Ours is loved like a child and has her own home knitted camouflage Hawks jumper.

    Fingers crossed against the crows. !

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