What a game at the mighty MCG on an Easter Monday. How many times have you been able to say that over the last ten years?
The Cats and the Hawks turned it on again, and the result was as close as it can get.
Here’s the good, bad, and ugly of the best game of the young season.
The pressure, pressure, PRESSURE!!!
How fantastic is it when the reality lives up to the expectations?
That last five minutes were as hot as footy gets. It was so difficult to get a clean possession, and even when someone did, they expected to get crunched and it affected the way they got it forward.
How hot was it? Well, the best way I can think to describe it is by singling out someone who is always composed and seeing how it impacted him.
Joel Selwood hacked it forward in the last two minutes. This is the man who had the composure in 2012 to take a mark in the middle of the ground, assess the situation and hit the leading Tom Hawkins to win the game. He is the man who has broken the hearts of Hawthorn supporters many times. He is always composed.
But there was no composure today. He threw it on his foot as quick as he could and the Hawks made him pay. When Joel Selwood has no time, you know the pressure is intense.
The Rivalry itself
The Kennett Curse may be over but the rivalry continues. You could feel it the stadium, could see it in the players’ faces, in the coaches’ boxes and in the voices of supporters who screamed themselves hoarse.
Hawthorn v Geelong games are now worth more than just four points. They’re worth a bit more to each and every player on the field, and they seem to be worth a little bit more to supporters, too.
Ten years after the rivalry restarted, they're still fighting out classics. I'm glad they have made Easter Monday their own. Bring on Round 21.
Smith has had a couple of forgettable moments against Geelong in recent history. Misses from both set shots and in-play kicks towards goal may have ended up being his legacy against the Cats.
He went a fair way to remedying that today. Twice in the intense last quarter he won big one on one contests out on the wing to send the Hawks into attack. Add to that a couple of vital goals and twenty touches, and Smith could count himself among the Hawks’ best.
The Big Three in the Last Quarter
When required, the big three stepped up and almost pushed the Cats over the top.
Dangerfield’s move into the middle reaped immediate rewards as his clearance and penetrating bomb inside 50 saw Menzel mark and goal.
The stoppage work of Ablett, Selwood and Danger was exceptional. With no easy kicks to be had, those three got plenty of the ball, and gave their forwards every chance to convert.
The run down tackle of Roughead by Selwood in the last quarter was a genuine highlight. Selwood willed himself to make that play – what a player he is.
The final stats for the holy trinity – 95 disposals, 4 goals, 16 marks and 14 tackles. Not a bad day out.
The Big Rough’s contested marking
Too many times over the years, Jarryd Roughead has launched at the footy with one hand raised, content to bring it to ground. The Hawks needed him to do more today, and boy, he delivered.
The big Rough took three contested marks in the last quarter, and used the result of the last mark to slot through the game-winning behind.
Big Boy McEvoy
43 hitouts, 16 disposals and 5 very important marks made Big Boy stand out against Rhys Stanley, who made the Hawks pay floating forward and picking up two first half goals.
McEvoy gave his mids first chance at the ball against the Cats’ star-studded midfield all day.
Every Supercoach player's favourite cashcow notched another polished performance today, collecting another 27 touches and filling the hole left by the absence of Mitch Duncan.
His centering ball to Jed Bews instead of snapping from the boundary was a "team-first" decision. The Cats have found a gem in Kelly.
Cometh the moment, cometh the man?
Sicily had a chance to really put his stamp on the game with a good performance. What we got was anything but.
Whilst I will never doubt his skill, or his will to win, some of his decision making was terrible. He gave away a 50 early to give Selwood a certain goal, sold Duryea into awful trouble across the half back line, resulting in a holding the ball decision, and gave away free kicks.
In high pressure games, you can’t be cute. He was knocked over when kicking, which resulted in a Dangerfield goal, and kicked around the corner when long down the line was the preferred option. A dropped mark in the dying minutes resulted in a goal for James Parsons.
He will have more chances, and deserves them, but he was not good today, and almost cost his team. He may even have a break next week if the MRP decides that dropping your knees into someone warrants a suspension.
I have none. Seriously, in a game like that, how can you. I am sure there are many isolated incidents that could be listed as ugly, but overall, the game was a thing of beauty.
If forced to pick one, maybe Luke Breust’s miss from the goal square? He looked a little too relaxed as he dropped the ball onto his boot whilst avoiding a tackle. Should have been a certain goal instead of a poster.
Jaeger O'Meara and Joel Selwood getting to know each other a bit was fun to watch. If O'Meara could get to Selwood's level, the Hawks would be thrilled.
Ablett and Danger combining for three of the first touches of the game would've brought a smile to the faces of many Geelong supporters.
Luke Breust was important early, with high quality touches, but faded late.
Dangerfield's ability to break tackles led to Ablett's goal in the first quarter. Sicily took Danger to ground but couldn't hold on. Danger got up, and next thing you know, Ablett is slamming through a banana kick for a goal.
He may be older and a bit slower, but Ablett is still almost impossible to bring down in a tackle. Even Roughead saw his tackle slip down to the old fella's legs.
Roughead's pack mark, whilst running with the flight deserved to be rewarded with a goal. Sadly, he missed from basically right in front.
Schoenmakers had a career moment - winning a four on one contest on the wing. We may never see this again!
Geelong goal late in the second quarter was like a wave rolling forward. You could sense they were going to score, and Menzel didn't let them down.
Cats giving away a free kick for high contact straight after Danger's opening goal of the third quarter was costly. The Hawks surged forward and Gunston goaled after a nice pass from Duyrea.
You know you've witnessed a great game when a bloke can pick up 40 touches and barely rate a mention in the review. Tom Mitchell was excellent - I rate this as better than his 54-touch spectacular last week, as he also hit the scoreboard.
Zach Touhy's torpedo up the guts was beautiful. Danger marked and went to pump it forward. He miskicked, and the Hawks had the chance to make Geelong pay for it. Breust's set shot missed.
The late call of hands in the back against Tom Mitchell had Hawthorn fans screaming. The free kick was definitely there, but should've been called earlier.
Tom Stewart exiting the defensive 50 twice with Ryan Schoenmakers trailing him badly are the sort of occurrences that have made the Hawk a non-favourite among supporters.
Goals to Parsons and Parfitt both made something out of nothing. Loved the confidence of the goal umpire not calling for a goal review. He knew what he saw.
Dangerfield beating Rioli at ground level was brilliant.
Breust's attempt to pull down a hanger with the game on the line was stupid. Could've cost the game.