The Adelaide Crows visited the MCG for the first time since the 2017 Grand Final, and they copped a belting in the process. Hawthorn put the foot on the throat in the third quarter, kicking seven goals unanswered.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
James Sicily’s third quarter
He is such a divisive character. You could see the frustration from his teammates when he chipped from the kick in and it was cut off by Eddie Betts. It resulted in a goal sailing back over Sicily’s head, but the controversial Hawk made up for it in the third quarter.
He went bang, then bang again, and he finished off with one more bang from 50 for three goals in the quarter. If Hawthorn won the game with their third quarter blast, then it was Sicily that was the catalyst for that onslaught.
Derm wants him to wear the number 23, and you could see why tonight. You’ve got to take the bad with the good from Sicily, but tonight was good, and the third quarter was very, very good. He took eight marks and had 24 disposals across half back and drifting forward, and went at 88% efficiency for the night.
As the weeks go by, Sicily is starting to move into serious contention for an All Australian slot. It will be very tough to keep him out.
The Mitchell/O’Meara combination
This was probably the best game from the two midfield guns together since very early in the season. O’Meara, in particular, was outstanding tonight. You come to expect 30+ from Mitchell, but O’Meara’s last month or so hasn't really delivered. He delivered tonight.
Between the two, they delivered 17 clearances. As a team, the Crows had 26. The pair had 29 contested disposals and 11 tackles. The only thing they didn’t do was hit the scoreboard themselves, but they had 15 score involvements between them.
When playing against the Hawks, you must pick your poison. You can let one of these two hurt you, but you can’t allow both to get their hands on it 30 or more times. It’s football suicide.
The Hawthorn stoppage work
We touched on Mitchell and O’Meara already, but the overall dominance of Hawthorn at stoppages put the Crows to shame.
Hawthorn had 23 more clearances than the Crows. A lot of this is due to lack of soldiers in the Adelaide line up, but there has to be more to it than that. Sam Jacobs had a really good first quarter and was on top of Ben McEvoy. Big Boy battled back, but Jacobs had the ascendancy early and the Crow mids could not capitalise.
Big bodied players like Hugh Greenwood (3) and Sam Gibson couldn’t get their hands on it often enough, and the only player that looked dangerous at stoppages was Bryce Gibbs yet again. Matt Crouch had two for the game. Not good enough.
The Hawks had Burgoyne (5), Henderson (4) and Howe (4) who were all better than their Crow counterparts.
Burgoyne started like a train, and slowed during the second and third quarters, largely due to close attention from Kyle Cheney.
He was up and about again in the last quarter, moved into the centre for a while before drifting forward to slot a goal from a gorgeous Ceglar ruck tap. Burger is a class act and has given Hawthorn the kind of service no one thought he could in terms of longevity when he was recruited.
He had 13 contested touches amongst his 24 disposals, and had eight touches in the first quarter. If he wants to go on again next season, you’d roll out the red carpet for him.
As Sicily drifted forward, Gunston had no problem drifting back.
He rebounded from defensive 50 on five occasions, and collected 27 touches. He also drifted forward to crunch a goal from 50 metres in that dominant third quarter. He is so versatile, and can make a difference irrespective of where he lines up.
Some have said they’d like two James Sicilys at Hawthorn; one for attack and one for defence. You’ve already got Jack Gunston – you don’t need two of Sicily.
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Horrible overall first half of football
There are not many games I watch where I actually feel like turning the game off and doing something else, but that’s the way I felt about this game at half time. It was a terrible spectacle.
Inaccurate kicking by Hawthorn (2.8) didn’t help, but ten minutes before half time we had three goals in total for the game. I thought I was watching soccer, only the atmosphere at the soccer is a lot better.
If you happened to watch France v Australia instead and were wondering what you missed, I could summarise the first half up pretty easily – not much. Neither team were interested in taking a risk, and both looked terrified to go inboard. If you’re a Hawthorn fan, you probably tolerate it because four points tends to wallpaper over any issues, but anyone else would remember that first half as one of the worst of the season.
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The Crows second half
Much will be made of the Gold Coast last quarter fade out. We’ll hear about how poor Carlton was in the first half, where they went goalless, but what we saw tonight from the Adelaide Crows is probably the most concerning result of the weekend thus far.
This is the team that was favourite to win the Grand Final last year. This is the team that put Richmond to the sword early in the year. If you needed any proof that the Crows were in deep trouble, the second half of this game is Exhibit A.
There was no passion, no confidence, no risks taken and no urgency in their play. The horrible fiurst half was the kind of spectacle that would force viewers to turn off the game. The second half would only cause Crows fans to find something else to do on a Saturday night.
They got nothing from blokes like Hugh Greenwood and Paul Seedsman tonight – players who they’ve relied on all season long, and players who have perhaps punched above their weight all year. Seedsman was in line for an All Australian berth as little as a few weeks ago. He’s played himself out of consideration since.
Adelaide have a lot of soul searching to do as they limp into the bye. They’ll need a few soldiers back for their next month, which includes clashes against Richmond, West Coast and Geelong. They are at risk of seeing their season slip away completely.
The Hawks inaccuracy was a worry early. It felt for a little while as though it could come back to bite them. Obviously, Adelaide were toothless, but against a team without half their stars out, those kinds of mistakes can really hurt.
The Hawthorn pressure inside 50, and their defensive structure was excellent. The Crows seemed to have little option but to hack it and hope for the best.
Bryce Gibbs looked as though he meant business in the first quarter. He was determined to stand next to Tom Mitchell at every stoppage. That lasted one quarter. Mitchell won the battle 9-6, but Gibbs was far from disgraced, and had little in the way of support players.
There’s a lot to be said for players who can read the flight of the ball off the boot. Liam Shiels did it when Duryea had a bit of a shank at half forward, and marked in a crowd uncontested in the first quarter. A goal resulted.
The corralling of Eddie Betts at 45 when he was running onto his left foot was well done. Eddie doesn’t have the journey any more.
Speaking of Betts, a timely fist by Sicily might’ve cost him a chance at mark of the year. Great leap by Eddie, but great timing from Sicily.
Sam Jacobs’ two first half goals were pretty hard to foresee. No goals this season up until then.
Luke Breust returned to a bit of form but only hit the scoreboard for a goal once. I always rate Breust on his defensive pressure, as he creates opportunity when he applies tackles. He had six tonight and three of them were inside 50. His failure to make the distance from 40-45 metres in the second was eye-rolling stuff.
Now the advantage was not paid to Hawthorn in the later stages of the second. As the ball was casually gathered and returned, 20 seconds went off the clock. Ray Chamberlain then called “time back on”. The problem was… time was never off.
I felt for the Crow defenders in the third quarter. They got no help from a midfield that applied very little pressure to the Hawk mids and half backs who pushed forward relentlessly.
Isaac Smith running through the middle is a scary proposition for opposition coaches. No wonder they have someone run with him whenever they can.
The value of being able to slam home a goal from 50 was never more evident than in the third quarter. Sicily x 3, and Jack Gunston both got goals from distance. Compare that to Betts not even firing at goal from 50 in the second quarter, and a couple of misses from Tex Walker and you can see why it’s such a vital trait. The Hawks have a few with good legs from that range.
Loved Will Langford’s repeated efforts to earn holding the ball against Hartigan at half forward. His kicking for goal, however… hmmmm.
Had to wonder who was responsible for Sicily in the third quarter? Doedee was sent forward to curtail him in the last quarter, but Don Pyke was shutting the gate after the horse had bolted.
I can’t understand the confusion about the Walker/Gunston mark that the umpire balled up. Gunston was in front – you pay the man in front.
Seeing Seedsman throw the ball on his boot in the last made me wonder whether he was simply going for distance. Gotta defend that “most metres gained” status.
Nice one-on-one win by Gibbs on Puopolo. He must be so frustrated. He was supposed to be the icing on the cake at this club. Turns out he has to be every ingredient in the mix and bring his own utensils as well.
I’ve been on the Adelaide wagon all season. I’ve been waiting for them to come good, but after four goals for the game, and one in the second half, I have no idea where they’re at. Crows fans, if you’re reading this, what is the fix for you guys? I think if you throw a Sloane, Lynch and Laird back into this side, things get better quickly. However, I think Sloane will take a while to get his legs under him.
For the Hawks – we’ve heard about the easier draw… I don’t particularly care about that. I think Hawthorn is capable of beating any team in the league, barring perhaps Richmond, but they are prone to having “off” days, as was evidenced against Brisbane. Where do you see your club finishing, and where do you improve?