Siren-to-Siren: Geelong v Hawthorn
There is a reason Alastair Clarkson is considered one of the greatest senior coaches in the modern AFL football era, and it was on show in the first term of this clash. Tactics can take you a long way in this game, and the Hawks beat the Cats at their own game early.
Geelong’s surge to the top of the ladder this season has come off the back of free-flowing and aggressive transition football, feeding a hungry small forward-line spear-headed by Gary Ablett Jr. High risk, high reward footy is the pathway to success against premium midfields, and the Hawks used the corridor in the early stages, creating a plethora of scoring opportunities.
For the Cats, their ball use was sluggish and without drive. Selwood, Kelly and Dangerfield were quiet and ineffective, and naturally the Cats couldn’t quite find their groove.
Tim O’Brien’s marking
Touted as a future star of the game from a young age, it’s taken Tim O’Brien a while to hit his straps. Well, it seems as if the Hawks forward may be on his way to fulfilling those expectations with his recent form very impressive indeed. O’Brien clunked a big mark on the wing early, and it was clear the Cats defenders were wary of his presence.
I like to refer to the ex-swan as inconsistent – horribly inconsistent. Rohan’s best is simply brilliant, his worst is frankly woeful. He had a chance to snap up an early mark and goal in the first minute of the game but spilt a simple chest mark. He went on to finish the quarter with more fumbles than disposals (2).
Geelong: 4.5 29
When you’re competing against the best team in the competition, every opportunity in front of the big sticks needs to be taken. You know the saying – you come at the King, you best not miss! The Hawks would have been ruing their inaccuracy in a second term which they dominated from start to finish. Yet, they headed to the sheds with just a four-goal lead.
Again, like in the first quarter, the Hawks took the game by the scruff of the neck and penetrated their forward-line with aplomb. Led by some solid ruck work from ‘big boy’ McEvoy, and run and carry from Liam Shiels, Tom Scully and Jaegar O’Meara, the Hawks generated a heap of shots at goal. 12 marks inside 50 for Hawthorn in a half of footy is a testament to Clarko’s grid-lock defensive setup.
Forcing Geelong wide allowed the Hawks to pierce their offensive half and it set up a monumental chance to knock off the Premiership fancies.
It was fascinating to observe the disciplined defensive efforts from the Hawks and their setup off the ball when the Cats have the football in their back-half. The likes of Zach Tuohy and Tom Stewart were not able to work the football through the middle from kick-outs, as the Hawks simply worked incredibly hard to push the Cats wide at all costs. James Sicily and Ben Stratton had a field day, picking off the footy as the Cats tried to move the ball out of the backline.
Impey’s knee injury
Jarman Impey has been a huge asset for the Hawks this season, playing every game thus far. So, it was sad to see the running defender carried off the ground in the first minute of the second term. Impey landed awkwardly and seemed to seriously injure his knee. On a positive note, while the stretcher was called for, Impey ended up opting to be carried off by the trainers instead, potentially suggesting the damage isn’t quite as bad. Regardless, lets hope for the Hawks and the games sake that the bouncy Impey is back in the brown and gold as soon as possible.
The Cats threatened to claw their way back into the contest with a three-goal burst…and the Hawks absorbed the pressure.
Geelong started to move the football with more authority and made use of the corridor with greater effect, but they lacked the polish – the reason why they sit atop the ladder late into the year. Credit must be given where it’s due, and that is to the Hawks for fighting out the game with one less player on the pine.
It was one of those games where the Cats really never seemed to be in it, yet were never really out of it, either. The first five minutes of the last stanza were always going to be pivotal in the context of this game, and potentially the wider season. If the Hawks were to standup, they could be in the running for a top eight finish. If the Cats seized control, they could have wrapped one hand around the minor Premiership.
Wow, you couldn’t have asked for more from the milestone man if you’re Alastair Clarkson. Playing his 200th game, Liam Shiels wore Patrick Dangerfield like a glove. Yes, up until three quarter time his opponent may have racked up 22 touches, but his actual impact on the game was minimal at best.
Shiels himself has enjoyed 26 touches, including 10 in the third term alone, as well as kicking two crucial goals from good clearance work. At this point it was clear that if Shiels continued to dominate Danger, the Hawks would win this clash!
The favourite for the 2019 Brownlow had a poor day. While the stats sheet will read 18 touches and a goal heading into the last term, Tim Kelly struggled to impact the game like he has been doing for so long this year.
Kelly looked fatigued and struggled with his two-way running in this contest. For a player who likes to jump out of the blocks, Kelly really struggled all day long. If Geelong were to win this game, they needed Kelly to play a belter of a final term.
To finish, I’m certainly not a fan of David King, but he summed up Kelly’s game nicely: “Kelly just isn’t working hard enough.”
Well, well, well… the Hawks did do it – they beat those Cats!
When Tom Hawkins pumped through the first of the last it seemed as if Geelong were about to come steamrolling home and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. However, as they did all day long, the Hawks held firm and fought out a very, very impressive victory.
It was a team performance which won the Hawks this game. Disciplined defensive structures, a variety of scoring outlets and options, and a midfield which stood up against arguably the strongest midfield quartet in the competition powered the Hawks home.
Geelong just didn’t look like the 2019 Geelong that the 18 other AFL teams have come to fear. From the outset they were just ‘off.’ Will this be an important wakeup call for the Cats heading into September? Or have the Hawks uncovered a real weakness within the blue and white hoops? Only time will tell… but I feel as if it is the former that’s at play here. The Cats are certainly still the team to beat this year!
Tim O’Brien’s mark and goal.
Yes, I know his marking already featured in the first term highlight section, but his last term efforts were literally game changing. With the game in the balance, O’Brien stood up as the ball was propelled deep into the Hawks forward-line and took a HUGE grab. The kick which setup the mark wasn’t great either, which makes O’Brien’s mark even better.
He aptly popped through his third goal and switched the momentum back in the Hawks favour. They talk about break out games in football, I think Tim O’Brien had one of those today!
For the first time in a long time, Geelong felt the pinch of pressure against a hungry Hawks outfit. Jordan Clark made an uncharacteristic decision to poke his foot at the football rather than gather it in a contest out on the wing. Patrick Dangerfield panicked and was in two minds as he won the ball in his teams forward-half, ultimately ending up being caught holding the ball in a moment of indecision.
Tom Hawkins missed a couple of shots at goal that you’d normally mark down as certainties. Indeed, there were an array of opportunities for the Cats to standup in the last, and for the most part they failed to deliver. Again, credit must go to the Hawks for their constant pressure football, but the Cats would be disappointed with how they failed to adapt late when the game was on the line.
Those fast finishing Hawks just can’t be written off just yet, can they? They’ll move to tenth and give themselves a sniff of a top eight birth after a fantastic victory today.
I can’t see them going deep into September if they do play finals, but with their current list, making it there would be an achievement in its own right. For the Cats, well… they were poor today.
Their star player in Tim Kelly had a mediocre outing, and his fellow midfield brigade wasn’t much better either. They’ll head to Sydney next week to take on a plucky Swans outfit, who on their day can be a handful for even the best sides in the competition. Chris Scott and Co certainly won’t be taking Longmire’s men lightly after today’s outing…
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