With Round Five in the books, it’s off to the hubs. It was an up-and-down week of footy with some high flying marks, some big upsets, and yet another interpretation of ‘holding the ball’ from the umps.

To round out the week the Hawk’s travelled to Sydney and met the Giants – time to dive in to a not-so quick yarn.

It was an intriguing battle between two of the competition’s most fascinating sides. The contest was tighter than the scoreboard reflected but the Giants were far more efficient in attack compared to their opponents.

Hawthorn’s absence of forward fifty threats made it easy for GWS’ defence – led by Nick Haynes – to intercept poor inside fifty entries and build off half back.

At the other end, the Giants forwards had a day out, converting 26 inside fifties into 17 scoring shots, having statisticians reaching for the record books.

The final score was GWS 13.5 (83) to Hawthorn 7.7 (49).

Among the best for the victors were Josh Kelly, Nick Haynes, Jeremy Finlayson, Harry Himmelberg, and Harry Perryman. While for the Hawks, Jack Gunston, Tom Mitchell, and James Worpel were serviceable.

 

THE TALE OF THE TAPE

It was a tale of two forward lines in this one. The Giants took advantage of their opportunities while the Hawks let some sitters go begging – a storyline as old as footy itself.

GWS came ready to play, kicking three majors and keeping Hawthorn goalless through the first term. However, the Hawks had probably been better than the 20-point deficit reflected and the second term proved this to be true.

Hawthorn fought its way back into the contest but wasn’t able to convert its dominance in to goals. It went into the main break two goals down despite having twice as many inside fifties than GWS.

Things opened up a in the second half and the Giants took full advantage. They broke the game wide open and built themselves a six goal lead by mid-way through the third term behind a barrage of goals from their tall forwards.

Hawthorn kept the game alive however, closing out the premiership quarter with back-to-back goals and wrestling over some momentum going into the final break. Despite this, the Giants had their measure in the fourth and eased their way to a 34-point victory.

 

WE LOVE TO SEE IT 

 

Ten goals for the Giants tall trio 

Although he’s been down on his numbers so far this season, Jeremy Cameron is a proven star. Himmelberg and Finlayson however, are not. So it was great to see both lads kick a bag of four each, helped along with two from Cameron for a total of ten from the tall trio.

After a good fortnight from the Giants forwards, they need to keep this momentum going and be careful not to fall into their past habit of lapsing in critical games and forcing Cameron to keep them afloat.

Nick Haynes

He’s just a pleasure to watch week-in, week-out. Haynes consistently wreaks havoc on opposing forward lines and is perhaps the best intercept mark in the game (excluding the injured Jeremy Howe).

Hawthorn’s talls in Mitch Lewis and Tim O’Brien had no answer for Haynes and he was a key factor in Clarko’s decision to bite the bullet and throw McEvoy forward in tandem with Ceglar in the ruck. Haynes is everything a club could want from a sweeper and for me, he’s an All-Australian lock.

Giants mids on fire

After a weekend with some extremely sub-par skills – even from victors – it was a pleasure to watch the Giants midfield put on a show. Josh Kelly went at 80% efficiency from his 30 touches, Perryman at 75% from 28 and Whitfield at 79% from 28. There’s an awful lot of class in this GWS side and when it’s smooth movers are all fit and firing it’s a joy to watch.

Beyond the foot skills, all three of those men took double figure marks, with 12, 11 and 10 respectively. The Giants had a major ascendancy in the air in this one and it wasn’t just their forwards clunking them.

 

YOU JUST CAN’T HAVE IT 

 

The Hawk’s tall forwards aren’t up to it

Hawthorn has a major problem up forward. It finished the game with 12 more inside fifties than GWS but it’s forward line was off the pace all night. Tim O’Brien managed only four possessions and no impact, whilst his partner inside fifty in Mitch Lewis only managed four touches of his own before going down with an injury in the third.

Say what you will about Patton but he has to be in the Hawks best 22. Lewis and O’Brien completely failed to even threaten a score and it’s become clear they aren’t a good enough one-two punch.

As an aside to this conversation, why are you playing Paul Puopolo, Clarko? I understand I question one of the greatest coaches of all time at my own risk, but seriously – why? For the oldest and slowest team in the competition, is 10 touches and a cheap goal from a 32-year-old in his tenth season better than getting more games into youngsters like Hanrahan, Morrison and Cousins?

It might be frustrating to watch and don’t get me wrong, Puopolo is a champion, but it seems counter productive – especially from a coach who showed Lewis, Hodge and Mitchell the door to make way for youngsters.

Why even bother attacking the footy?

After Clarko put the umpire’s on blast for their interpretation’s of ‘holding the ball’, it’s fair to say things changed this weekend, albeit not to Hawthorns benefit. From 49 tackles, Hawthorn only caught GWS holding the ball once. Conversely, the Giants caught the Hawks over ten times from 51 tackles – more consistent with this weekends overall interpretation.

However, is this really what we want? Perhaps I’m over-reacting but players are being discouraged from attacking the footy. Under threat of being caught ducking, infringing on an opponent with contact below the knees and now facing a stricter interpretation of ‘prior opportunity’ than we’ve ever seen – why bother putting your head over the footy? This isn’t to say first hands on the ball isn’t a net benefit for a team, but I can certainly understand players’ frustration when they get penalised for simply wanting the ball more than their opponent.

 

KEY STATS 

  • GWS out-marked Hawthorn 120 to 58, including 107 uncontested grabs. Pure and simple, this made it too easy for the Giants to control the tempo and play the game on their terms.
  • The Hawks won clearances 33 to 25, they won the inside fifty count 38 to 26, however, their inside fifty efficiency was 37% compared to the Giants 69%. Those stats tell you everything you need to know.

OTHER THOUGHTS 

  • I posed the question last week – are we sold on the Hawks? Now, I’m not sure we’ve found our answer but the pressure is definitely on. Next weeks Friday night blockbuster against the Pies is a massive game for both sides. Put it in your diary.
  • The Giants are back on course and in my book have re-established themselves as contenders. Greene is fit, both Kelly and Whitfield are red-hot and Coniglio finally found his feet a little in this contest. Consider the Giants an imminent threat.