Alternate Worlds – Geelong v Hawthorn from two completely different views.

Two Mongrels, two teams, and two opposing points of view. Sam Marcolin is a Cats man and loves nothing more than to see them run over the Hawks. HB Meyers… he’s a brown and gold man, and we’re not just talking about the shade of his underwear.

They watched this game and these are their takeaways.

 

WHO WAS THE MATCH WINNER?

 

HB MEYERS – Well, for the Cats, it was Guthrie – just a consistent presence in the middle, offered hard run and always provided either a link from a defensive exit, or some tough work inside.

If I was forced to choose another, Mark O’Connor’s game on Tom Mitchell was fantastic – not just for his shutdown role (particularly early) but for his willingness to do the hard running into the back half to relieve his defenders.

Looking at the Hawks, I cannot go past Jaeger O’Meara. He was a monster in the last quarter, picking up 13 disposals, with ten of then coming in the contest. This was the O’Meara I’ve been waiting to see – the hard working ball winner that extracts and dishes to a teammate. I haven’t seen him put in a better 30 minutes of footy and with seven of his 13 clearances coming in the last, he put the Hawks on his back at stoppages.

 

SAM MARCOLIN – Jack Henry. Geelong are in a tall forward crunch, surprisingly, and the idea that transmission would resume as normal this week was flawed beyond reason. In any event, Henry’s two goals and last quarter assist were ultimately decisive.

There were very few winners on the park for the Cats, but in combination with Guthrie and Duncan, Henry can walk off with his head held high.

 

 

WHERE DID WE WIN/LOSE THE GAME?

 

HB MEYERS – Ball use. It’s that simple.

Whilst there are a dozen instances we could point out that would illustrate any point you’d like to make, it was a team fault here – we put the ball in the hands of players that were not great users and asked them to do something other than take the safest possible option.

To be fair, I do not blame either of Sam Frost or Daniel Howe for the errant disposals that cost the Hawks. It was a mistake to put them in that position and hope they could do what they’re not equipped to do. When Sam Frost has the ball on a half back flank, he is the LAST person on the team you want biting off a kick on the 45, yet that’s what we saw twice.

Same with Howe – not the greatest or most reliable ball-user, yet it was him centering the footy across half forward, allowing the Grand Final half time sprint to come early. Jiath, Frost, Henry and Clark all flew across the ground in the race back to the Geelong goal. Clark won… that boy has wheels.

That said, the Hawks should not have been in that position. You can teach a fast horse to slow down, but you can’t teach a slow horse to go fast. A good kick of the footy will occasionally have a shocker, but a poor user of the footy… he will rarely do the unexpected and slice the footy through traffic and hit a target.

 

SAM MARCOLIN – Can I say the siren won us the game? That was as disgraceful a performance as I’ve seen from those in the blue and white. At times they looked disinterested and at others they looked outpaced. While acknowledging the outs at the Cattery, no one will be looking back on this with anything other than disgrace.

Guthrie was excellent but really Geelong should have lost this game and the fact they are now 2-1 is flattering. O’Connor’s hard tag on Mitchell was also a game-winning move.

 

 

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

 

HB MEYERS – The forward entries.

I know the Hawks are trying to bring kids along, and develop them into key forwards, but in the first half, at least, they did not look like it. The structure of the Cats’ defence was so well-drilled that they continually got back to help and made both Koschitzke and Lewis look cumbersome.

Of course, given what happened later in the game, perhaps there was a method to the madness…

 

SAM MARCOLIN – Everything? The structure seemed completely off, with the wrong people in the wrong spots. I thought playing Henry forward for the second half was a great move, but I’d never move Blicavs out of his defensive role to play in the ruck.

Instead of kicking to Hawkins in a three on one every time, I’d have tried isolating smaller forwards and, most critically, I’d have moved Zac Tuohy into a more important role than half-forward given his skills. Hardly sighted, and not through his own doing.

 

 

MOST UNDERRATED PERFORMANCE

 

HB MEYERS – Jarman Impey. I loved his run and carry, and his attack on the footy in the air. He had 24 touches, of which 19 were kicks, and made a devastating running pair with Changkuoth Jiath. By the way James Brayshaw, calling him “CJ Jiath” is like me calling you JB Brayshaw. It’s either CJ, or Jiath. Not both.

Anyway, Impey has reverted back to his defensive post this season after playing forward as he recovered from his knee injury, and it is a welcome sight. He is a wonderful reader of the footy and a joy to watch when there is a bit of open space ahead of him.

Other than him, I didn’t mind the job Kyle Hartigan did on Hawkins. Look, Hawkins is a beast, but Hartigan was able to force him wide in a similar fashion to the way Port Adelaide did in the first final last season. It forced Hawkins to make really tough shots at goal, and his resultant 2.4 scoreline reflects that.

Sure, several will look at his thump to the back of Hawkins’ head as the one instance worth talking about, but for the most part, I like his combative style.

Just before I finish up on this, how stupid are these commentators talking up the old punch to the head as something Danny Frawley would be proud of. They’re aware of the belief that it was mutliple head knocks that contributed to Frawley’s downward spiral, right? Oh, but how great is the old ear massage, hey? Danny Hughes… whoever else they mentioned… far out, blokes.

 

SAM MARCOLIN – ‘CJ’ Jiath, as James Brayshaw likes to call him, was absolutely excellent down back. Every time he had ball in hand he looked to create and made the heart flutter with his speed. 23 touches at 83% probably doesn’t do him justice, but Hawthorn have an excellent defensive prospect in him.

Chad Wingard could have won the game but kicked 1.3. Mitch Duncan does simply accumulate possessions but I don’t think he’s underrated anymore. Tom Stewart was critical down back.

 

THE MOMENT THAT MATTERED MOST?

 

HB MEYERS – As I stated above, I don’t blame Daniel Howe at all for the kick that led to the Jordan Clark goal, but that was the moment.

Great speed from Jack Henry to make the spoil on Burgoyne, and fantastic recovery, as well to get the Cats off and running. As soon as that kick was broken up, the old legs of Burgoyne and the young legs of Henry were never going to make a fair fight. The help defence from Frost and Jiath was good, but once the ball got out to Clark, he just dropped the hammer. The chain of handballs was perfect and the sustained sprint from Clark gave the Cats the matchwinning break.

Sorry Daniel, but that moment was the most important of the game.

 

SAM MARCOLIN – The Joel Selwood free and subsequent 50 metre penalty against Kyle Hartigan. While I was not afforded the benefit of a replay to see the actual free kick paid to the skipper, from what I’ve heard it was reasonably soft for a push as he kicked the footy.

The 50 paid against the former Crow allowed the reigning Coleman Medalist to convert, but in reality he probably would have converted either way. In any event it put Geelong three goals up, a lead they did their best to relinquish but simply could not.

 

 

WHICH PLAYERS LET US DOWN THE MOST?

 

HB MEYERS – Well, he didn’t let me down, personally, but I wonder how the Cats fans are feeling about Charlie Constable? Those who have read The Mongrel for a while know I was wondering if he should have requested a trade last year. It probably showed good character to want to stay and force his way into the team, and after nine touches in the second quarter, including a goal, it looked as though he could have made a real difference.

But that was it.

He had five touches for the rest of the game, and even in the slow ball-movement style of the Cats, things seemed a little too quick for him.

And on my team… if someone can explain to me what the hell is going on with James Worpel, I am all ears.

Has he been shunted aside with Mitchell returning to the team? Is he a little bit over playing third or fourth mid? In 2019, he bum-rushed contests and made himself Hawthorn’s go-to mid, picking up a Peter Crimmins Medal in the process. The Hawks don’t just hand them out to anyone, you know!

And since then, it’s as though he is wearing concrete boots. Flat-footed, hardly ever clean by hand and with foot skills that make Sam Frost and Daniel Howe look… nah, I take that back. Nothing makes those two look good.

He had 16 touches and six of them were turnovers with only two clearances. Maybe he needs to start playing a defensive midfield role exclusively, or maybe he needs to reinvent himself because with three games in 2021 failing to crack 20 touches, something is up, and I don’t like it.

 

SAM MARCOLIN – Tom Hawkins’ 2.4 hurt us right in the heart, but really I thought Luke Dahlhaus was probably our worst. If his role is to lay forward pressure then fine but he didn’t do that today. 0.1 from 11 touches and three tackles is just not good enough, frankly, and the unwillingness to move his magnet elsewhere seems to suggest he possesses a yet-unwitnessed desire to attack either the ball or the contest.

If he’s a premiership midfielder, which he is, then why not use him in a role that makes use of that kind of talent. That may not be a reflection on Dahl, but it is a reflection on the game plan at Geelong, which seems to be that good players will always do good things. Spoiler alert: they won’t.

 

 

PLAYER FROM THE OPPOSITION I ADMIRED MOST IN THIS GAME?

 

HB MEYERS – I’m tempted to choose Selwood, just because he is Selwood and he always hurts us.

He did again, in this one, by the way. A couple of very important touches late in the game… I’m still dirty about having pick six the year he went pick seven.

That said, I find myself quite taken by the way Mark O’Connor plays the game. His attention to detail this week on Mitchell, and last week on Lachie Neale is the sort of niggly, dedicated hassling that I enjoy watching. He sucked Mitchell in, too, drawing a free kick off the ball whilst the Hawks had possession.

I love a good tagger. I am a fan of Matt de Boer and thought that Ben Jacobs was a vital component to the make up of the North Melbourne team a couple of years ago before his concussion-related injuries, and with the emergence of O’Connor, the Cats have found one that can not only stop his opponent, but hurt them going the other way, as well.

I can see him being a future captain of this team.

And Tom Stewart was excellent in defence as well. Hard to admit, but he is the player I wish James Sicily would be.

 

SAM MARCOLIN – CJ and Chad Wingard have both gotten wraps previously, but deserve all the plaudits I’ve given them. McEvoy and Ceglar really managed to limit the influence of Stanley, especially aerially which managed to make Geelong’s key forwards more accountable.

Jaeger O’Meara was very solid in midfield with 13 clearances, and honestly, Kyle Hartigan managed to restrict Tom Hawkins, who should have been way more dominant than he was

 

WRAP  UP

 

HB MEYERS – You know, I came into this game with low expectations. I don’t expect a hell of a lot from the Hawks this season, but they had every opportunity to pinch this one. It made for a pulsating last quarter, that’s for sure.

Good things to come out of it were the continued development of Jiath off half back, the form of Jarman Impey, the undeniable step-up from O’Meara and both key forwards actually starting to look dangerous as the game wore on, against a very polished defence as well.

I do think that both Lewis and Koschitzke both need to add a little more effort into the defensive side of their games – Blicavs rans off them at one stage and they were nowhere in frame as he powered through half forward – and that may come. If it doesn’t, I may throw the remote through the TV… or someone else’s TV – year, I don’t want to ruin my TV.

If I’m the Cats, I’m thanking my lucky stars in this one. They do have a very good record over the last 10-15 years in close games (tip of the hat to The Slugger for that info) but if they’re being run down by ordinary teams that are playing ordinary footy, a tweak or two may be necessary to rectify things.

I remarked to a few of the Mongrels that against a more polished opposition, they probably would have lost (and I am thinking the Dogs, Tigers, Port, Eagles or even the Swans at the moment) but against the Hawks, they got away with it. 2-1 when 0-3 could have easily been the reality.

Constable out, Evans out, Higgins out.

Menegola in, Cameron in, Dangerfield in.

Fixes a bit, doesn’t it?

 

SAM MARCOLIN – Yuck. Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck. Against any other side we would have lost. Frankly we should have lost today. That was as bad a performance as I’ve seen. Injuries/suspensions aside, the backwards and sideways kicking was revolting. If the Cats lost this, I think real questions would have been asked but irrespective the same questions should be posed. Is this the best way of setting up? The brand of Tomahawk or bust is just lacklustre and frankly dated and against a good side we’d have been exposed.

Guthrie, Duncan, O’Connor and the backline were superb but as a Geelong supporter, you hope that this is an aberration and not the rule. The ruck continues to be an issue, and Rhys Stanley doesn’t seem to be being utilised in the way one would ideally utilise a ruckman with the aerobic capacity of the former Saint.

Kicking backwards and sideways was an issue all day, and the lack of movement up forward contributed to that. Overall, as with the other two games the Cats have played this year, we won’t be looking back at it with rose-tinted glasses.

Pull the finger out, crack in and start the season over again.

 

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