James Sicily singlehandedly carried his young and not-so-young Hawks from the first bounce to the final siren for an inspirational come-from-behind, last-minute and a half victory over an at times fumbling and lacklustre St Kilda. Captain, James Sicily, was, Simply the Best.
The First Three Quarters Predictability
There was a familiar rhythm to each of the first three stanzas as the young Hawks, being ably led by their senior players, tried their guts out but just kept missing a beat or three in front of goal, with the Sainters good enough to control the overall rhythm and melody of the game. The game was going according to the pre-game script with St Kilda’s tune prevailing against a gallant cellar dweller, well except for James Sicily, the Private Dancer in the Hawk backline, who was continually disrupting the Saint’s harmony.
Mitch Lewis and Max King threatened in the first quarter to turn this match into a full forward’s shootout as both looked well on top of their craft. Don’t get me wrong, they were both in their team’s best, but this had the hallmarks of a Big Day Out to remember, reminiscent of days of old when Salmon and Ablett, or Lockett and Dunstall mesmerised and entertained everybody. Hopefully, in years to come they provide us, the goal-starved spectators, to a true goal fest of a game.
While Lewis and King were threatening, Luke Breust was doing his best to keep Hawthorn in the game in the first half, but he could have buried St Kilda before halftime off his own boot if he had his accurate dancing shoes on. While I am talking about inaccurate dancing shoes, Jacob Koschitzke looked like having a break-out game as the perfect foil for Lewis and Breust except for three quarters he couldn’t hit the side of a barn, such was his pull or hook on the ball in front of goal.
In all the key statistical categories Hawthorn were in front except for their terrible inaccuracy and fading at the end of each quarter. To St Kilda’s credit Crouch, Marshall, Battle, Sinclair and Wanganeen-Milera were providing enough supply from the back half and centre to keep the accurate St Kilda forwards, led by Max King, amply supplied.
At three-quarter time it genuinely felt like Hawthorn had stoically thrown their best punch but the class and reach of St Kilda would prevail.
Fourth Quarter – Sicily Rewrites the Script
With goals to St Kilda’s young guns, Anthony Caminiti and Cooper Sharman late in the third quarter and then another to Sam Butler early in the last, the Saints jumped to what looked like a match-winning lead of just under four goals. Apart from the never say die endeavour and courage of James Sicily and the run and drive of Jarman Impey, the Hawks looked cooked.
A Hawthorn goal by Mitch Lewis brought the margin back inside a respectable three goals early in the last but for the next ten minutes or so, St Kilda held field dominance and controlled the tempo of the game, however, they couldn’t get the ball past James Sicily. The game was heading for a typical Ross Lyon style ‘choke the opposition to death’ win until the 19-minute 29-second mark of the quarter when the tempo of the game was stunningly swung around.
Higgins’ mistake is Sicily’s heroism!
The whole dynamic (another music reference) of this match turned on a split-second mistake and a split-second piece of heroism. Jack Higgins dropped an uncontested chest mark ten metres out and as he fumbled to get the ball to boot, James Sicily arrived from nowhere to unsettle Higgins and force a rushed behind. Sorry Saint fans, but it did remind me of Heath Shaw running down Nick Riewoldt.
From that point on, St Kilda panicked and the game was suddenly back on.
Intercept mark after intercept mark by Sicily allowed him to be the conductor the final stanza of this game as he switched play, crushed his opponents in tackles and continually stuck to the game plan accompanied by his aspiring band of leaders including Will Day, Jarman Impey, Conor Nash, Jai Newcombe, James Worpel, who were ably supported by a young troop of willing minstrels.
Josh Battle and Callum Wilkie, who had held St Kilda’s wall of resistance together all game finally had it broken when with around five minutes to go when the tough and very impressive Irishman, Conor Nash, literally ran straight through Jimmy Webster, who is no slouch himself, and passed the ball to the top of the goal square where the young Hawk substitute, Connor MacDonald, took a strong mark and truly goaled. Minutes later when Jarman Impey put a precision pass on the head of Dylan Moore and he played on and kicked a goal the margin was back to two points with under four minutes left to play and the comeback was well and truly on.
Jacob Koschitzke’s and Luke Breust’s Redemption!
Koschitzke and Breust finally got their Nutbush right when it mattered most in the last minute and a half of this game. Big Jacob finally got his dancing shoes on and slotted a superb goal from forty metres out to put the Hawks in front and shortly after, the little Hawk Maestro, Luke Breust, sealed the win with another pressure goal to add to his career highlights reel of nearly five hundred career goals (one short).
Three Goal Leads are Dangerous in 2023
There have been quite a few games lost in the last five minutes this year when they have led by three goals or thereabouts and the other team suddenly find late momentum and a belief to crawl back from nowhere and over-run their opponents.
St Kilda, who had all the momentum in this game, did not kick a goal from the three-minute mark of the last quarter as they tried to close the game down and lost. A similar scenario happened to North Melbourne last week and the Sydney Swans have fallen prey twice this year as well.
St Kilda can only blame themselves tonight as they lost this game by allowing James Sicily seventeen possessions in the last quarter (you read that right, seventeen possessions, as well as forty-three for the match) and allowing Sicily to singlehandedly turn this game.
I’m sounding a tad Fan Boy or even sycophantic, but the game of James Sicily was the best individual game I have seen in many a year – The Best. Seriously, ‘do yourself a favour’, as Molly would say, and watch the last quarter of this game if you get a chance.
By the by, Mark Howard was commentating today, and I was waiting for him to say, “build the man a statute”, such was Sicily’s dominance.
I truly doubted what Sam Mitchell and his brains trust were doing at Hawthorn cleaning out the cupboards last year and loading up on a group of kids, but after reviewing their last two games they are heading the right direction. They are a tough group of kids who are following the example/s of their hardened hard-headed leaders.
Further, given the turmoil around the club presently, the match day staff must be congratulated in keeping the players, young and experienced, protected from the internal issues.
While I’ve enjoyed reviewing the last two Hawthorn games, as they have surprised me, next week they travel to Adelaide to play a rampant Power (at least they were rampant at the time of writing but given the nature of upsets this weekend I could be mistaken) and while they are on the up presently, I think it might be a bridge too far for them.
St Kilda have a week off and a chance to rejuvenate as they seek to avoid a second half of the season fade out like last year, which ultimately cost Ratts his job.
Rest in Peace and thanks for the memories, Tina Turner.