Round 8 – Hawthorn v Sydney, MCG: Space Invaders / a Ben Affleck uplift.


Sydney held out the Hawks to take a vital 4 points in Round 8 (Hawthorn 9.15.69, Sydney 11.7.73). The protagonists of last year’s Grand Final played an up-tempo pace and pressure and, this time, defensive spread edged precision attack.


Comparative starts – Sydney’s flying, Hawthorn’s wasteful – proved critical to outcome. Hawthorn took their opponent’s best shots and weathered them, but breaking the game open proved frustratingly slow amid total team defence.


A cursory glance discerned half a field stacked with actors, plus ones and Space Invaders. Decongesting the crush, skirmishes and swarming tackles wasn’t easy. Little was clean or through the middle of the ground. Mistakes and turnovers were the way and means to fresh air.


Not my kind of rhythm, or the Hawks I suspect. Early in the second: 6.1 to 1.6 (!). The tight and at times heated affair won good reviews, to each their own, personally it was a grind-it-out evening.


Granted, my judgment was spectacle not sport, coming from the part of me that consumes football as entertainment. If we had scored the final goal, here would be 600 words lauding Cyril. Results pulled game satisfaction.


In any event, my joy in the game is firmly rooted in attack, in the blitz that incinerates defences or, at very least, the one-on-ones. Defenders, standing like the lonesome whippoorwill in your forward line tends to catch the eye. So too for an umpire, you might think. If the will existed, would it take more than the first free kick to change instructions?


“Hear that lonesome whippoorwill,

He sounds too blue to fly.

The midnight train is whining low,

I’m so lonesome I could cry.”

Hank Williams (1949), covered by many including Danish Metal/Blues band Volbeat (2008).


All well in the hypothetical, but law reform? I understand the case for the defence and the cogency of the test always applied: Do you prefer how it looks or to get the job done? The prerequisite for any and all strategy – including blanket coverage, pattern zone presses that eat up and run ball out, as though connected by invisible wire – while contemporaneously complicating simplicity; like the progress of scrambled eggs, morphing into a Tuscan variety with Dukkah, Fetta and smashed ‘Av’ and as hard to digest.


It’ll open up,’ I thought, and had a flashback to the movie, “Gone Girl”; staying on stoically, for an Affleck led uplift, when I really wanted to leave half an hour in.


Principal Space Invaders were McVeigh and Gibson (I would have liked Hodge[1]). Theirs was the match winner, crabbing sideways and, latterly, forward to hit the scoreboard.


Earlier Hugh noted, ‘Why not, man him up?’ with the wisdom of the child on television who suggests both hard and soft shell tacos. I heard a Mariachi band and cheers.


The balance of power between defence and attack continuously shifts, unpredictably, cyclically. Not every game is madly good. Not every Affleck movie.


In the final quarter, a way out was manifest. Hill flew from traffic with breathless speed and then, with only a Space Invader ahead, took the sharpest of right turns and speared to Gunston. It was comparable to an NBA point guard charging to the paint before doling to a teammate on the corner, for three. Beautiful.


And then Gunston missed.


Tonight, Hawthorn could not quite open blocked passing lanes, create multiple options and bring chaos to their order. In the 2nd quarter, our run of four consecutive goals was peppered with points. After the main break, came 10 minutes of burning nightlight before another four goals to one. In the final quarter, when Cyril soared over Richards for mark of the night, we were 12-points up. You have to execute down the stretch and finish the game.


In closing minutes, Gunston hit the post and Burgoynne left them in the slipstream to find Breust. Should have had our winner there. The only thing stranger than Breust pulling his shot was Rioli dropping Gunston’s handball, on road to goal. The Mariachi band smashed their guitars.


24 scoring shots to 18, 54 inside fifties to 36. There it is.


While I won’t rule us out, a double chance falls into doubt and double jeopardy awaits those who finish 3 and 4 this year; two interstate finals in 3 weeks and then ‘Gone Girl’.


Back at home – one in the morning – flick through the replay for another look at Cyril’s mark. He missed the final handball but the dozen things before were transcendental. Cyril’s perpetual brilliance was a constant thread running through the entire game, almost.


Zoning off for now.




Hawthorn        0.4      4.9      8.11      9.15    (69)?

Sydney         5.1      7.4      8.7        11.7      (73)


Hawthorn: Rioli 2, Schoenmakers 2, Puopolo, Breust, Gunston, Ceglar, Langford.

Sydney: McVeigh 2, McGlynn 2, Reid 2, Tippett 2, Rohan, Parker, Goodes.


Hawthorn: Rioli, Mitchell, Hill, Frawley, Langford, Gunston.

Sydney: McVeigh, Hanneberry, Reid, Parker, Richards, Jetta.

Umpires:          Pannell, Meredith, McInerney.

Crowd: 63,319

Our votes :     McVeigh (Syd.) 3, Rioli (Haw.) 2, Mitchell (Haw.) 1.

[1] Did not play due to suspension.

About Paul Campbell

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

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