GWS v Hawthorn – The Mongrel Review

Well, what a cliffhanger of a match this one turned out to be!

A spirited Hawthorn team took the game right up to GWS, and if you were one of the nine thousand fans at Norwood Oval and happened to be wearing brown and gold, you may feel a little hard done by. But if you were a fan of the orange team, you’d consider it a little bit of justice from the footy gods.

The game had plenty of moments to keep fans of both sides happy, and the game held its own during the festival of footy.


Momentum footy

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there was a gale blowing to one end if you were looking at the timeline. Hawthorn took a quick early lead, only for GWS to bring it back by the end of the quarter (and for Hogan to set up Cadman for his career first in a nice little gimme). Then GWS get on a run, only for Hawthorn to peg it back a little before halftime. GWS get a quick start in the second half, but Hawthorn go on a five-goal tear to take the lead, then GWS claw their way back into it, giving us a thriller of a finish.


Highlight Himmelberg

Ordinarily, a key forward kicking 2.3 in a close game would feel a little concerned about the match review. Wasteful kicking frustrates the rest of the team who had to work so hard to build up those shots. But Harry was the man of the hour with his last two minutes of the game.

An absolute screamer of a mark with two minutes to go saw him convert to give the Giants the lead. He started a good few metres back from the pack and just launched himself over the top to claim the grab and converted like he was never in doubt.

Hawthorn kept coming through, and repeat forward 50 entries had the crowd on their toes like a little person at a urinal. The first was well rebuffed through sheer effort, but Jarman Impey managed to collect the ball at the arc from a Worpel quick kick and put a magnificent step on Finn Callaghan to fire off a 50 metre match-winner that sailed right between the posts… but not before Himmelberg was able to get his hands to it first, as shown by what may very well be the clearest (and highest quality) vision of a touched behind I’ve seen in the AFL ever. I’d assume they’ve abandoned the idea of custom cameras and just drilled a hole in the post and stuck a GoPro in it.

GWS managed to keep the ball in dispute in the middle of the ground for 30 seconds to kill the clock and ice the game.

Harry Himmelberg finishes as the hero for the Giants. After taking a pack mark and kicking the goal to give GWS the lead, Himmelberg manages to get a hand on Jarman Impey’s potential game-winner to secure the victory.


Ruck battle

For most of the day, it was Matt Flynn and Harry Himmelberg taking on Ned Reeves and Lloyd Meek. Flynn did the bulk of the work for GWS, managing to top the sheets in hitouts with 34, but only having ten to advantage. Reeves was a little more effective, with 32 hitouts and 14 to advantage of his smaller teammates, while Meek backed him up nicely, providing 15 hitouts with five to advantage. Himmelberg was really just filling up the space while Flynn took a breather though, getting only two taps and none of them helping out the orange mids.  Considering his results as a forward and as a back this game, he’ll probably get a pass on his ruck effectiveness though.



The midfield is where the game was really highlighted. Jai Newcombe worked the inside-outside style like a seasoned veteran, breaking packs and gaining metres with his raking boot, complemented by James Worpel. Conor Nash worked hard at the coal face, frequently collecting a contested ball to farm out to his teammates. He put some time into containing Green after half time, managing to both curtail his output while still getting some of the ball himself. This trio seem to be coming together very well, and while they may not have had an easy day of it, the quality of their opposition was very high, and they were still very competitive all day.

That opposition consisted of Josh Kelly, Tom Green and Stephen Coniglio. Watching the game, it seemed Lloyd Meek spent a lot of time trying to contain Kelly, working him into the pack to deny him any space. Coniglio and Green were left with plenty of space though, with Green playing the second insider and Coniglio using his pace and positioning to keep as a wide option. I understand the benefits of a player in space, but there seemed a few instances where the only thing keeping Coniglio in the field of play was the fence and some security guards. He may be one of the last people to take social distancing so seriously, staying at least 15 metres from anyone. He spent so much time on his own, I reckon one of his teammates might have to get him an emotional support Corgi or something.

Regardless, I’m giving Hawthorn the edge in the midfield matchup. Slightly better play at the pack helped them set up scoring launches from stoppages, while the Giants preferred to work their play from their halfback line, taking advantage of some questionable kicking into the attacking 50 by the Hawks, as evidenced by the efficiency inside 50 stat which favoured GWS 54% to 45%.


Bad kicking is bad footy

While there will be some jubilation at the result, GWS can really only blame themselves for it getting so close in the first place. Kicking three goals and six behinds in the second quarter and four goals six in the last was the sort of accuracy you’d expect from your Aunt’s profit predictions of her essential oil business. Hogan and Himmelberg combined for four goals and seven behinds between them to show the sort of efficiency that you normally only see in local council projects. If that ledger was reversed, the game would have been sealed by three quarter time.


Green(e) Day?

Between Fergus, Toby and Tom, the Green(e)’s combined for six goals, 65 touches, 14 marks and 13 tackles. Greenwashing has become popular lately, and maybe there’s something to it. Hopefully, we’ll see more secondary-coloured players recruited in the draft this year.

Fergus has had a tough time in the AFL, and I don’t mean just having to share the same nickname as a certain toe-sucking ex-royal. With the tall timber up forward either injured or not firing, he’s playing the sort of role that his last-namesake Toby has excelled at, and with a similar result here. Maybe they need to check to see if their talent comes from the same genetic line?


Next Up:

GWS head over to Manuka Oval in our nation’s beloved capital to take on a Brisbane side still roaring from the sheer bloodbath they gave North. While both sides took on struggling opponents this round, Brisbane looked like a school of sharks feasting on bewildered tuna, while GWS had trouble shaking off their opponents.

Brisbane seem prepped and ready to put a hurt on anyone they play, and while GWS will take it up to them where they can, the Lions seem just too strong in too many places to be pushed beyond their comfort level.

Brisbane by 30.

Hawthorn  head over the strait to take on the Crows in Launceston. With an extra two-day break and a much easier time of their belittling of the Blues, the Crows will be riding high on confidence and looking to get some much-needed percentage on their ladder position.

While there is every chance Hawthorn’s aggression and pace may trouble the Crows, it’s hard to see them getting up against an Adelaide outfit that seems to be getting their link-up play working better now than they have in the last four or five seasons. Tassie games tend to be a little low scoring with the wild winds that are so often present, and I do expect Hawthorn to handle those conditions a little better than their opponents, but I don’t think it’ll quite be enough.

Adelaide by 15.



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