R14 – Hawthorn v Richmond – The Mongrel Review

The stage was set today, 92,000 at the MCG for Dusty’s 300th game. The Tiges were coming in off a confidence-boosting win in Adelaide, and the Hawks were looking to maintain their recent good form.

Leigh Matthews managed to strike up some controversy this week by not having Dusty in his top three players since 2000, and I have to say I agree with him. I will say, though, that he is arguably the best big game player since 2000, and this was his big game.

Sadly for Richmond fans, he didn’t really turn up today, but he was not alone in that regard as plenty of his fellow teammates went missing. It was a convincing win by the Hawks, who were not overawed by the occasion and never really looked like losing. Richmond managed to sort of hang around for two quarters before Hawthorn blew them apart with a seven goal to two second half.

Here’s what I noticed:



Anyone looking for a puff piece on Dusty is going to be disappointed here. I have to acknowledge his stellar career thus far; three Norm Smiths, a Brownlow, three flags, 300 games – these are massive achievements and not be sneezed at. When he kicked the first goal of the game today, on the run from 50, and all the Richmond blokes got around him, I thought the stage was set for Dusty to have a day out and lead his team over the line. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

His performance today was underwhelming (although he was not alone there) and it’s clear his best footy is behind him. Most Richmond supporters will tell you that he can do whatever he wants after what he has done for the club, including his only “media” action being a cringeworthy interview on the ground with Jack Riewoldt at the end of the game, and maybe they are right. It was a disappointing game from the Richmond champ on his big day, but it should not detract from what has been a career that will not be forgotten easily.


The Hawthorn Wall:

The halfbacks of Hawthorn had a day out in this one. They are often pushing high up the ground and locking Richmond in their defensive 50. I noted halfway through the first quarter that James Sicily and Jack Scrimshaw had seven intercept possessions between them. They were just reading the ball better than the Richmond forwards, and had the confidence to go for their marks when they were in front. Sicily and Scrimshaw would finish the game with ten and seven intercept possessions respectively, and the underrated Josh Weddle would join them with nine of his own – he has a great pair of hands. They were a wall that Richmond struggled to break down as their use inside 50 did no favours for their forwards, and these intercepts went a long way to Hawthorn controlling the game and the ground position.


“The Wiz”

Far out, there is a lot to like about this kid. He attacks every contest with absolute vigour, and his crumb off Chol and delivery into 50 to Moore for the Hawks second goal was champagne small forward stuff. That was all well and good, but far out, he needs to learn how to kick a goal. He finished the game with 1.4 and it could have easily been a game breaking six.

When he did get his one goal, it was a soccer off the ground in the goal square, and his celebration was to shoosh the Richmond cheer squad. Sorry mate, but when you kick for goal like that, you haven’t earned the right to shoosh anyone,. You certainly haven’t earned the nickname, either. Not yet.

They don’t let you into Hogwarts for almost being a wizard.

This kid could be a great small forward, but one of the main jobs of small forwards is to kick goals, and he really needs to tighten up this part of this game before he can claim the old shoosh celebration.


Shai Bolton:

What is this guy? On his day he is one of the most damaging players in the league, blessed with a skill set us mere mortals can only imagine – but “on his day” is becoming less and less regular of late. While I’m not privy to his contract details, I imagine he is one of the highest paid players at Richmond, and he needs to start acting like it. He has the ability to be a match winner, but I genuinely can’t remember the last time he displayed it.

Was he being carried by a good Richmond team that no longer has the ability or star power to carry him? There a rumours that Freo are into him, and if I was Richmond, I would let him go. I’d ask a hefty price, but the deal would certainly be explored. He strikes me as something of a downhill skier, when the going is good, so is he, but he appears to not have the mentality that Richmond need right now. Is he a role model for younger players, the way he drifts in and out of games? Will he be a part of Richmond’s next premiership? Probably not, so if Freo offer Richmond a first rounder for him, I think they should bite their hand off and get his wages off their books.


Mabior Chol:

Mabior can often be accused of being lazy, lackadaisical and cruising through matches.

Today was none of those days. Not one.

The big man kicked four goals, perhaps in a bit of a statement to a Richmond team that was happy to show him the door. But more impressive than his goals today, was his energy for the contest. His chase down tackle in the third quarter was as unexpected as it was pleasing, and you could tell he and his teammates enjoyed it – they really got around him.

Perhaps some of the Richmond forwards could take notes, with Lynch basically non-existent in this game. Just after the Chol tackle, Cumberland had an opportunity to put real pressure on James Sicily, and instead, Sicily was able to find the time and space to hit up a teammate from his defensive 50. The contrast between these two pieces of play was stark, and really highlighted how much Chol was up for the contest. If he can keep playing in this manner, the Hawks will continue to be extremely dangerous forward of centre with their forward mix.


Other Bits:

Fellow Mongrel, HB mentioned the insufficient intent rule flying under the radar in an article last week, as a result of the focus on holding the ball. And the call against Tyler Sonsie in the last quarter was a good example of it. Under pressure, he kicked the ball off the ground, and it went out of bounds – his intention was purely to move the footy forward and I don’t think he should have been punished.

Loved the bit of chatter between Jack Riewoldt and Nathan Buckley in the commentary box over Nick Watson’s hair. Riewoldt running with the Bon Jovi, but I think Bucks won out with his Richard Marx reference.

His kicking at goal was a Hazard, anyway. Boom tish!

Speaking of hair, Hugo Ralphsmith must have the most glorious mullet in the game, and his name also sounds like a luxury clothing brand. Not a great one – more one you’d buy at Gazman.

The two high free kicks to “The Wiz” were interesting. Ginnivan clearly taught him a thing or two with the old arm raise to force the tackle high. It’s interesting because I doubt Ginni gets those free kicks with the same movement. The thing is, Watson has such a small area for the opponents to tackle. If he is lowering himself into tackles, he will be almost impossible to tackle correctly.


And that’ll do me. I expected more from Richmond today, as they celebrated one of their all-time greats, but they never looked likely and Hawks really controlled the entire game in a pretty professional win.

The Hawks are coming, and are a sneaky chance to make the 8 this year, and as an opposition supporter I wouldn’t want to face them in finals.