Hawthorn v Geelong - The Good, Bad and Ugly

Another huge clash between the Hawks and Cats at the MCG saw yet another tight one, with the Hawks running out 11-point winners.

Here’s the Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

THE GOOD

James Worpel

Many will be talking about the moment that James Worpel made a name for himself this afternoon.

With Joel Selwood running the other way, the young man in just his seventh game kept his head over the ball, took possession and spun out of trouble to keep possession for his team. The ball went to Jack Gunston at half forward, and he converted across his body from 45 metres out, but that goal belonged to Worpel.

He was robbed of a Rising Star nomination in Round 18, when he collected 32 touches against Carlton (the nomination went to Jack Higgins, more for a cumulative series of games, I reckon) but there should be no doubting as to whether he should receive it this week.

He collected 23 touches, had five marks, and laid eight tackles in a superb performance. He found himself going head to head with some of the game’s biggest names in the first half, but more than held his own with Gary Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood. In the years to come, quite a few people may be talking about what a draft steal this guy was, if they aren’t saying that already.

Ryan Burton

This was Burton’s best game of the year, for mine.

His help defence was excellent, and he managed to stifle many Geelong forays inside 50 in the first half.

Early in the third quarter, I had him as the best player on the ground, and though he was a little quieter late, this game will do wonders for his confidence. He finished with 19 touches and five marks and got his fist to plenty of marking contests to aid his fellow defenders.

When you add to his numbers six intercept possessions, you have a very nice day at the office for Burton. This was probably a desperately needed game from him, as he has been a little disappointing this season after a stellar 2017. Maybe this is where the corner is turned?

The Geelong comeback

It’s just not a Hawthorn v Geelong game without a spirited comeback. Whether it succeeds or falls short is the variable, but irrespective of who leads, the other inevitably comes at them, and comes hard.

With the Hawks sitting 26 points ahead at the last change, you felt as though one early goal would open the flood gates. It did… in Geelong’s favour.

Goals in quick succession to Jack Henry and Daniel Menzel breathed immediate life into the game, and really set the Cats amongst the Hawks. Another goal to Tim Kelly, who really stepped to the fore in the last quarter, had those who are familiar with Hawks v Cats encounters thinking “here we go again.”

But the misses to both Hawkins and James Parsons let Hawthorn off the hook, and it would be Jaeger O’Meara on the end of a Hawthorn push inside 50 that sealed the game with a running banana kick.

The wounded cat

As Dangerfield limped off in the third quarter, you could be forgiven for thinking Geelong were shot. He looked to have sustained a hip or thigh injury, and slowly made his way to the bench.

But he returned soon after. And picked up right where he left off.

Danger had 40 touches, and counted 26 of them as contested. He threw himself into contest after contest and looked like the bloke on the ground that wanted the ball most. He was desperate, he was committed, and he was inspirational.

Danger had a game-high nine clearances, and is the first Cat to top 40 touches in a game for 2018.

Shaun Burgoyne

How old is this bloke now? Sign him on again… and again.

He had 20 touches today, but it was his defensive efforts that were most impressive. He laid a game-high 13 tackles, and clung on for dear life on several tackles late in the game as the Cats came hard.

A lot of people questioned Hawthorn’s decisions in allowing their leaders to move on. Hodge, Lewis and Sam Mitchell all departed, leaving a huge hole in the midfield leadership, but Burgoyne remained, and when it came time today, he was there showing the young blokes how to go about it.

He went at 85% efficiency for the game, and though he only had two touches in the last, his physical presence was huge.

Gaz

Believe it or not, there are some who read these reviews who believe I don’t like Ablett – that is so far from the truth. I think he is spectacular, and he was instrumental today in not only keeping the Cats in it, but in almost pinching the game.

After copping some criticism from Dermott Brereton following his miss in the dying stages of last week’s loss, Gaz had no issue putting his body into the contest today. He had 15 contested touches and eight clearances as he and Dangerfield powered the Geelong midfield.

Add to that his three goals, and you have a vintage Gary Ablett performance. It was not enough to get Geelong over the line, but he was one of the few whose hands remained clean for the whole day for the Cats. His kicking to position on a couple of occasions during the game was perfect, threading the needle amongst several Hawks to hit a teammate, and making it look easy. I reckon some of those kicks are undersold as we expect him to hit them, but it takes a great amount of skill and self-belief to make them work.

In case you missed it – The Hawthorn v Geelong Rivalry Part One – Matthews v Bruns

THE BAD

Tom Hawkins’ miss

I couldn’t believe he missed this. It seemed like it was scripted for Hawkins to be the hero late in the game – a role he’s played in this scenario before. He marked as the Cats had all the momentum and walked back to his mark…

But he poked at this shot at goal, and seemingly forgot he was the man who went back from 55 metres in 2012 and slammed through a goal to break Hawthorn supporters’ hearts. He missed the kick that would have brought the Cats within a point.

There were so many moments where it could be that Geelong lost this game, but this instance was at the pointy end, and struck me as a “you just dropped the world cup” kind of moment. An easy shot, in the capable hands of an in-form forward… it may have cost Geelong a finals berth.

The play it safe Hawks

How often do you see teams happy to play it safe and take time off the clock by creating stoppage after stoppage in the last quarter?

Now, how often do you see those tactics backfire? You almost saw it again today.

I suppose the two schools of thought are that you don’t go away from what got you into the position you’re in – play your game and things will continue to fall your way. And the other is that you go defensive and defend a lead rather than build on it.

Well, the Hawks took the second option and almost paid for it. They started to count stoppages as wins… this is a dangerous way of thinking. They’re not wins – their draws, and if you start playing for those situations, you win nothing.

If not for late game desperation from Tom Mitchell and Liam Shiels, things could have been brought undone. How would you liked to have seen Hawthorn play in the last quarter? Keep attacking, or absorb the way they did? Personally, I thought they had Geelong right where they wanted them, and could’ve really came away with a big win had they kept at it, but it’s hard to argue against four points, I know.

Two x Gaz first quarter free kicks

Ablett was good today, as you can read above, but those two free kicks in the first quarter… ugh!

The first one where Ablett took a dive – yep, that was a dive, as Isaac Smith moved to match up on him at a stoppage, was horrible. The umpire needed to be better than that, and not get sucked in to Gaz throwing himself backwards to extract the free. Sadly, he wasn’t better than that – he WAS that, and he paid the free.

The second looked as though it may have been there initially, as Ablett went to ground as he tried to kick the ball off the deck. Missing the ball and throwing himself backwards as he flailed at the ball, Ablett was awarded another free kick. On second look, it simply wasn’t there.

I’m not so down on the second free, as it was in-play and at least Gaz was making a play on the footy initially, but that first one was terrible. If Rance is copping fines for throwing himself on the turf after a slight touch, Ablett deserves a fine for that first one as well. Weak.

In case you missed it – The Hawthorn v Geelong Rivalry Part Two – 1989

THE UGLY

The fumbly Cats

Some will probably wonder where it was that Geelong lost the game. It’s pretty simple – they lost it when they simply could not take the ball cleanly at any stage through the first three quarters.

Here’s some of the culprits I noticed – Hawkins, Parfitt, Duncan, Narkle, Guthrie… they were the glaring fumbles I picked up as the game wore on. Feel free to add your own in the comments, as this was the most unsure I have seen the Cats look all year.

You can put a bit of it down to the Hawthorn pressure, but the Geelong pressure was good as well, and the Hawks were able to handle the ball cleanly for the majority of the game

In case you missed it – The Hawthorn v Geelong Rivalry Part Three – The Curse

OTHER BITS

Scott Selwood was really effective early, and made a dent in the Tom Mitchell disposal total at quarter time, the Brownlow favourite having only six touches to the first break. He’d finish with 32 and seven tackles to round out the standard Mitchell day, but Selwood was hard at it early.

Speaking of being hard at it, I loved Dangerfield’s repeated contests and eventual wins against Worpel and others on the wing in the first quarter.

Nice start from Connor Nash, but he was soon found out as the intensity lifted. It’s not a knock on the kid – these games are cut-throat, and he drifted out of it during the second quarter, only returning in the role of an extra as the story of this game was told around him… That said, his palm down in the marking contest in the first was really intelligent.

I thought Brandan Parfitt won a few good early balls and made things a little easier for his teammates. He looked relaxed and comfortable with the pressure in the first. He, too, went out of the game.

We didn’t see the usual run and carry from Tom Stewart today. He had a big job on Gunston, and you can’t afford to gamble when you’re playing on him. Gunston's first half was evidence of this. 

Jarman Impey’s smother on Tom Hawkins in the first quarter was magnificent, and came at a point where the Cats could’ve established a very handy lead.

How was Lachie Henderson claiming to have hit the ball with a fist on the boundary when he was called for a throw…turning the field into a field of mistruth!

Watching Scott Selwood attack Tom Mitchell at a stoppage without the ball… made me wonder; after seeing Ablett get a couple of contentious free kicks, would the Little Master would’ve been looked after had he got similar treatment?

I looked down the field at one point and saw James Frawley and Patrick Dangerfield alone inside 50. One thought crossed my mind – trouble. Luckily for Hawthorn,  they got numbers back to help.

I’m positive several Geelong fans may want to murder Cam Guthrie for a number of reasons (a couple in the second quarter stand out) but I thought I’d just point out that he looks like a rat crossed with Dyson Heppell.

I thought Ablett being pinged for holding the ball in the middle was incredibly tough in the second quarter. Worpel got the free, but Gaz was the only bloke trying to win the ball, had no prior opportunity, and was busting his ass to get rid of it. Tough call made so much worse by Joel Selwood booting the ball away and giving away 50.

50 goals for the year now for Luke Breust – what a great season. He has taken a couple of overhead contested marks in recent weeks. They really haven’t been part of his game til this season.

Geelong have had enough big games against Hawthorn to know you can’t allow Isaac Smith a clear run at the goals. Make him veer out and make him think about it. O’Meara’s hands to him set up his second, after his thumping set shot in early in the second.

I hated the “below the knees” decision against Guthrie in the second quarter. Really need to look at that rule.

Liam Shiels is the most underrated accountable midfielder in the game, and has been for about four years.

Someone might wanna tell Lachie Fogarty that it’s OK to chase the ball hard as it rolls towards the line. I can’t believe how quickly Kayden Brand made up ground on him.

Nice give by Parfitt to set Gaz up for goal early in the third – it was a very important little handball, as the first goal to the Hawks and I reckon they were away.

How’d the bottom six go today? I reckon James Parsons may be waving goodbye to the seniors for the remainder of this season. An anaemic effort today.

A couple of really gutsy efforts from Ricky Henderson in this game. Both times he didn’t know what was coming, and he backed up anyway. Ablett made him pay the first time, and the second one saw him escape unscathed. Still, the unknown is bloody scary!

O’Meara didn’t have a standout game, but his hands were exceptionally good all day long.

Had some expert “front and centre” exponents in today’s game, but Quiton Narkle’s effort at the feet of Tom Hawkins in the third quarter was as good as you’ll see.

I’m not really a fan of inexperienced ruckmen winning free kicks for basically not knowing what they’re doing. They kind of just get in the way at times and hope for a free.it worked for Jack Henry in the third.

I’ve hated what Dan Menzel has brought to the table since his return. Another bottom of the barrel effort today, despite being missed when he had space a couple of times.

Commentators were talking up the pressure of the early last quarter but it was painfully apparent the Hawks were doing whatever they could to take the heat out of it. The best moment for the first 6-7 minutes was a great body-on-body clash between Liam Shiels and Joe Selwood. I reckon those two players would look at each other in the eye and nod. They know what each other brings to the table.

A bit of redemption for Guthrie in the last with two really good one-on-one wins against Breust.

Henderson’s deliberate behind and resultant goal… I’m not sold. I knew what he was doing. You knew what he was doing. But there had to be a bit of doubt given the proximity of the goal line when he took possession, right? Huge penalty for something so small.

Big last quarter from Tim Kelly. Where was he the first 90 minutes? Harsh on a first year player, huh? I guess he’s a victim of his own lofty standards.

Huge guts from Jarman Impey to back into the oncoming Tom Hawkins late in the last quarter. That could’ve been messy.

Hats off to Paul Puopolo, who is able to lock the ball in successfully and wait for the cavalry without being pinged for holding the ball. The way he was able to corral the ball, keep it alive and then engage teammates when they arrives was crucial to O’Meara’s game-sealing goal.

So, there you go. Another great day between two of the fiercest rivals in the game, and another narrow margin. Like what you’re getting from The Mongrel? Give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter and you can be one of those people who can say “Oh yeah, I’ve liked them for ages” when your slower friends start talking about us.