Hawthorn celebrated a morale-boosting victory over their nemesis of recent years, Geelong today in a one point nail biter at the MCG. The Hawks won despite some shambolic umpiring, highlighted by some dreadful decisions and non decisions which favoured Geelong. I am not one who normally bemoans umpires but it was if these twits had posters of Darren Goldspink on their lockers, such was their bias against the Hawks.
Hawthorn overcame this bias, along with the bitter blow of losing Shaun Burgoyne to a hamstring injury at quarter time. The coaching genius of Alastair Clarkson was on display, with his spot on tactics successful at negating Geelong’s revered strengths and exploiting their notable weaknesses.
Much of the media hype leading into this clash revolved around Geelong’s star midfield trio of Gary Ablett Jnr, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood. Clarkson controlled the trio for most of the game and they only rose to be a factor in the last quarter. Whilst he allowed these players to have uncontested disposals in neutral areas of the ground, he limited them in more attacking areas. The main factor in the victory was the Hawks duo of Tom Mitchell and Ben McEvoy. Both players were decisive four quarter performers, with Mitchell again racking up the stats and McEvoy dominating in the ruck.
Hawthorn’s attack was brutal with its small forwards taking advantage of the inexperienced Geelong defenders. The Hawks’ transition into attack was highlighted by the gut running of Isaac Smith and Ricky Henderson. Geelong’s backmen were pushed wide and continuously stifled by Hawthorn’s ruthless forward press which limited the Cats’ rebound and transition into attack. Showing promise for the rest of the season, Jarryd Roughead was pivotal in the victory after a slow start last week, scoring two key last quarter goals and the match winning point.
Tom Mitchell-9.5– The ball magnet had everyone leaving the ground questioning who Ablett Jnr, Dangerfield and Selwood are, with him being the most destructive midfielder on the ground. He must be an early favourite for the Brownlow.
Ben McEvoy-9– Dominated in the ruck and challenged Mitchell for best on ground honours.
Jarman Impey- 8.5– He showed aspects of two of the best and most lauded small forwards in recent times: Chad Wingard (from his time at Port Adelaide) and Cyril Rioli (who he now plays alongside at Hawthorn). Impey was elusive and dangerous anytime he was near the ball and very effective when in possession.
Isaac Smith- 8– Was a key figure with the support he provided to the attack. His transitioning was a huge factor and he finished with 2 goals.
Ricky Henderson-8– A like for like game to Isaac Smith’s performance.
Liam Shiels- 7– Kicked a great goal early in the game, but did very little afterwards from an attacking sense. Having said that, he was relentless throughout as a defensive midfielder with his tackling, pressure acts and blocking for team mates at stoppages.
Jarryd Roughead-7– Ineffective early on, but his mark whilst running back was huge from a confidence standpoint and was a big factor in turning around his game. It led to a key turnover and assisted in a goal soon after and a very good last quarter with two key goals.
Ben Stratton – 7– Played on Dangerfield and Ablett Jnr when they were forward and was typically dynamic as a marker. He was also effective in assuming the Luke Hodge role of marshalling the defence.
Cyril Rioli- 7– His typical pressure acts and cleverness affected the Geelong defenders, limiting their decision making and skill execution.
Jack Gunston-7- Always effective with his cleverness forward.
Paul Puopolo- 6– Played his role as a very effective defensive forward.
Blake Hardwick- 6– He adequately played his role as a small defender.
Jaeger O’Meara – 6– Was only OK in the midfield and failed to be a factor late when the game was under threat.
Daniel Howe- 6– Very like Shiels’ game as a very effective defensive midfielder but his skill execution let him down. He kicked a key goal late in the game.
Taylor Duryea- 5.5– He played as a rebounding backman and improved on last week. He was prominent on the rebound and transitioning into attack in the third quarter.
Ryan Burton-5– Played as a backman and was rather disappointing, considering many thought he would rise to stardom in 2018 and beyond after being robbed of the Norwich Rising Star award last year.
Kaiden Brand –5– Played well on Hawkins and held him, supported by the players up the field limiting the big Cats players’ opportunities.
Tim O’Brien- 4– Played on Menzel in defence and was ok but got shifted to attack late when Menzel started to become a factor.
Luke Breust- 4– Needed to do more than he did.
James Sicily-3– Undisciplined play early on, with a key 50 metre penalty paid against him and a few key errors throughout. The young starlet will dust himself off and rise to prominence again
Ryan Shoenmakers –2– Did he play? There was a possible sighting of him during the third quarter when his hesitation cost the Hawks a goal when he should have gone straight away.
Shaun Burgoyne –(no rating due to injury)- Played as a deep forward early on but did his hammy before quarter time.
Today was a good confidence booster for the young Hawks team heading into next week’s game against the reigning premiers. Let’s hope Shaun Burgoyne’s hamstring injury isn’t too serious.