Hawthorn v Sydney - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Hawks battled back from a 19-point deficit to defeat the Swans by nine points and secure a double chance.

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

THE GOOD

Jarman Impey

There have been times this season when I’ve watched the Hawks and wondered what all the fuss was about Impey. Yes, he’s quick, and yes he has the potential (ugly word) to be a great running half back or wingman, but other than in short bursts, I wasn’t seeing it often enough.

Well, he saved his best for the last in terms of the Hawks’ home and away season.

Though he only travelled at 50% efficiency, Impey’s attack on the ball and his willingness to gut-run to make a contest were a stand out, particularly in the first half as the Swans threatened to overpower the Hawks early.

He was also willing to put his body on the line in several contests that will no doubt earn him more fans at Hawthorn, both in the stands and in the coach’s box. He finished with 22 disposals, with 13 of them coming in the first half, and was resolute in defence all day.

I wasn’t convinced prior to tonight. I’m now a believer.

Harry Morrison’s last quarter

He’s already got his Rising Star nomination, but had he been bypassed, he would be picking one up this week.

The Hawks have a line up littered with premiership stars. Breust, Gunston, Burgoyne and Roughead have all tasted success at the highest level. Therefore, there needs to be a hunger in the younger brigade to do what those guys did, and if possible, top it!

Harry Morrison looks to have that hunger.

It seemed as though every time I took a positive note about Hawthorn in the last quarter, the name of Morrison would be part of it. He chased down Fox as he tried to exit 50, recovered the ball and goaled. He was there again minutes later getting into position to score again. He was unlucky to have a third shot touched by McVeigh off the boot, and he just seemed to will himself into contests late in the game.

Combining with the fiery Worpel, the Hawks look to have uncovered two kids with some genuine fire in the belly and if they continue improving, we might not be seeing the end of this perpetual finals team any time soon.

George Hewett

So apparently Tom Mitchell needed 26 touches to break the record he set last year for most disposals in the home and away season… or something like that. I turn the volume up and down during the game as at times the commentators kind of give me the shits.

Anyway, picture yourself as George Hewett. Would you have come into this contest thinking “not on my watch”? I sure as hell would’ve. He held Mitchell to 24 touches, and not only did he limit him, he matched Mitchell’s output as well.

Hewett was hard at it all night (unlike my friend, Joe Ganino) and had 19 contested touches and an outstanding 12 clearances. Not only was he guarding Mitchell at stoppages, he was beating him to the ball!

Mitchell finished with 16 contested touches of his own, but had seven clearances for the game – easily bettered by Hewett. I know many people are not fans of the run-with kind of player, but don’t count me amongst them. I have an enormous respect for the accountable midfielder who goes on to have an influence of his own. Ben Jacobs, Mark Hutchings and George Hewett rank amongst some of my favourite players currently because they are team-first, and you can’t have too many team-first players.

Heath Grundy

Returning to the side after a period out dealing with some personal issues, Grundy was a welcome inclusion, and his complete blanketing of Jarryd Roughead in the first half would’ve had John Longmire smiling.

Grundy reads the ball in flight so well, and for a big man is surprisingly quick off the mark. His 14-possesion first half had him in the top handful of players on the ground. In contrast, Roughead had just one touch in the first half.

Roughead moved into the ruck in the second half to give him a clean run at it – he was not getting anything like that opposite Grundy, and he slowly worked his way into the game. However, Grundy’s ability to be in the right place at the right time was one of the few things that stopped the brown and gold tide late in the game. He finished with 12 intercept possessions amongst his 22 touches and travelled at 91% efficiency for the game. A very solid first game back.

Hawthorn comeback

With the Swans 19 points up at the main break, you kind of got the feeling that one goal early in the third could break the Hawks. The Swans had played the conditions well. They were playing wet-weather footy whilst the Hawks continued to try their short kicking game, only to see it come undone several times.

After half time, however, the script flipped. Now it was Hawthorn moving the ball on seemingly via strength of will. Their transition game was fluent, and this pushed the Swans back further in order to combat it. Once that happened, the space opened up and the Hawks were able to implement their kick-mark game without the manic Sydney pressure.

This was an excellent coaching exhibition by Clarkson. He made the necessary adjustments and his team responded. Does the blowtorch now go on Longmire? I think the Swans were well-placed to win that game, and they let it slip. They no longer have a double chance and could be out the finals door in week one.

Or do they put it down to having no Buddy, no Parker and… no adjustments? You can only move Heeney to so many places.

Harry Cunningham

Here’s a bloke that doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention. His efforts this season running off half back… as the designated other guy running off half back, I mean, have been excellent.

Unlike Jake Lloyd, Cunningham has a more defensive role and his tackling tonight was fantastic. He laid six of them and managed to get Isaac Smith, Teia Miles and James Worpel holding the ball as a result. That is not a bad strike rate – 50% of tackles laid resulted in free kicks for.

Cunningham is one of those unsung players that Sydney just seem to keep finding. He also compiled 18 touches and four inside 50 disposals and a whopping five free kicks. Who does he think he is, Joel Selwood?

Liam Shiels

Once again I find myself looking at the Hawthorn midfield and wondering where their clear winner was, and once again it is Liam Shiels.

He may be the bluest of blue collar workers amongst the competition’s mids. I mentioned a few guys above as great run with players, but in terms of having the runs (with) on the board, there haven’t been many better accountable midfielders than Shiels over the last eight or so years.

He had seven clearances tonight amongst his 26 touches, and pumped the Hawks inside 50 on nine occasions. As the eyes of fans are glued on Mitchell and O’Meara, spare a sideways glance for Shiels – he is a class act.

THE BAD

From seven goal hero to zero

I was awaiting a scenario late in the game when Ben Ronke would put his stamp on the game. It was obviously not going to be anything like his seven-goal haul against the Hawks earlier in the year, but I had a feeling he’d bob up and make an impact.

Well, I was wrong. The Hawks did their homework on Ronke and gave him plenty of attention all game. He finished the game with 10 touches, one mark and zero goals.

The free kick count

Did someone want to let the umpires know that there were two teams out there tonight?

Seriously, I am not sure how we can have two games on a Saturday, the other being the Richmond v Western Bulldogs game, where the free kick count is so lopsided.

The Swans got some extreme home-cooking, notching up 30 free kicks for the game to Hawthorn’s 17, which leveled out slightly, given it was 29-13 half way through the last quarter. In the other game, the Tigers managed to hold off the Dogs despite a 20-10 differential in favour of the Bullies.

It’s an age-old argument, really. How can we make the umpiring better and more equitable? The way the game is umpired will always be questioned, but then the discrepancy is so obvious, you have to wonder what the hell is going on.  

Two stars down

You hate to see a side have an excuse, and I am sure Sydney won’t be using one, but come on… they were without Buddy Franklin and Luke Parker!

They are two blokes that are pretty hard to replace, and whilst I am sure both will be better served by a couple of weeks on the sidelines as opposed to battling through injury and dragging themselves onto the field, you just know Swans fans are ready to trot out the "... but we didn't have" defence. The thing is - it's a viable reason.

Maybe there is a method to the Swans’ madness. I guess we’ll know as the siren sounds in their first final in a couple of weeks.

THE UGLY

Aliir Aliir’s first half

Is this the same bloke that was dominating across half back for the last month? He played like he had washed his hands with copious amounts of soap and forgot to rinse them off.

He looked like a rookie out there, making silly mistakes, dropping marks, fumbling the ball at ground level en route to being the worst player on the ground in the first quarter.

He fell over for no reason in his first contest with Luke Breust and was lucky he wasn’t made to pay, but his dropped mark from the kick in was costly as Worpel swooped and goaled. It didn’t stop there. He was incredibly lucky not to be caught holding the ball by Breust, and then was caught holding the ball by Gunston.

His first half was a nightmare, but credit where it’s due – he bounced back to have a relatively decent second half. I’m guessing he won’t be looking forward to the video review.

OTHER BITS

If there was one bloke on the field who looked like he could take the game over, it was Isaac Heeney. Is there a position this bloke can’t play? For a non-key position player, he might have the best hands overhead in the game.

The Swans’ defensive structure was great early, getting back in numbers to stifle any Hawthorn run. This is common in first quarters, but it is once fatigue sets in and players aren’t running as hard that you start seeing holes appear.

There’s been some terrible deliberate out of bounds free kicks paid this season. Throw Puopolo’s in the first quarter up there as well. He was obviously trying to tap it to a teammate.

Dave Mirra looked ok when he got a run at it tonight, but when left body to body, there were some concerning signs. He looked as though he felt the need to hold on a couple of times, and it could’ve really cost the Hawks.

O’Meara’s “don’t argue” on Ronke was a ripper. It might’ve been a little high, but if it’s good enough for Dusty, it’s good enough to O’Meara too.

It looked to me as though Josh Kennedy was the only bloke out there who realised that a long ball inside 50 had a chance of skidding through for a goal. He did just that in the second, and took McEvoy’s tap in the ruck to do it. That was a hit out to complete disadvantage – do they keep that stat? They should.

Conor Nash did some really impressive things. He set up handball to Puopolo early in the last gave the Hawks hope, but I did notice he overcooks his disposals in close, which cause fumbles by the receiver. His handball to Schoenmakers in the first was at the big man’s knees. Schoenmakers was subsequently run down as he gained his balance, but a handball on target is the difference between a shot at goal, and being caught holding the ball in those types of instances.

So, when a ball is claimed to be touched, and they’re reviewing it… why aren’t Channel 7 showing some kind of replay of it? They’re talking about it, the reviewer is obviously reviewing it (hence his job title, you see?) and we have to wait for a stoppage a few minutes later to get a look? That’s crap.

When in doubt, throw Shaun Burgoyne into the action. He must be like the Hawthorn version of Isaac Heeney for Clarko, only with more miles on the clock and a fair amount more trust given he’s been over the terrain so many times before.

Do teams think that Jake Lloyd doesn’t hurt with his disposals? I swear, every time I watch the Swans play, he racks them up without someone putting some defensive work into him. It’s like Rory Laird in Adelaide. They both just continue accumulating touches and other than what I stated above, I can’t work out why.

So Luke Breust finished eight tackles short of being the first man to ever kick 50 goals and make 100 tackles in a season. The 50/100 club still remains a club with no members.

Unless we count finals? He has a guaranteed two games to do it, if that’s the case.

The Sinclair v McEvoy duel was an interesting one. I thought Sinclair had some good moments, but the aerial ability, and big body of McEvoy was just too good on the day. A mammoth 52 hit outs for Big Boy tonight.

Loved the confidence of Tom McCartin to push off Brand and go for goal after marking with the flight in the second quarter. The conditions really didn’t suit the big blokes up forward, but he had a couple of nice moments.

I know I whacked the umpires a little before, but some of the weak free kicks they did pluck out… not in the spirit of the game. The downfield free to Hawthorn after Burgoyne was pushed as he kicked – soft. The blocking free kick paid to Hayward against Mirra in the second – equally as soft. Both should’ve been called play on. Too whistle happy at times.

Loved the marking contest between Ollie Florent and James Worpel in the second quarter. Great mark by Florent, but I also loved the angry reaction by Worpel – the kid cares.

The last month or so has seen a nice return to form from Ryan Burton. He was having a classic case of second year blues, but has turned it around recently. Just in time, too.

The Swans would be foolish to allow Jarrad McVeigh to explore options elsewhere next season. He still has a lot to give and is one of the few who remains cool in a crisis.

The move of Roughead into the ruck was a good one, with him grabbing two immediate clearances in the third quarter.

It wasn't a dominant display, but Jack Gunston knows how to show up and make an impact when required. I'm not sure both he and Breust can be in the All-Australian forward line, but one of them has to be.

Tom Papley needs a good pre-season and a larger fitness base. He has threatened all year to have a big game and I thought this might be it. He hit the scoreboard and one of his front and centre takes off the pack was perfect, but where does he go for stretches? He had two goals from 16 touches today but has the ability to do real damage if he can run games out.

Vintage patient Hawks build up in the third quarter finished with a Gunston goal from a set shot, but the amount of work that went into getting it into that position was excellent. Short, precise kicks from Shiels, Worpel and finally Henderson were all perfectly executed, and Gunston did not let them down on the finish. Gunston’s third quarter was a ripper.

Now here’s an interesting one. At a forward 50 stoppage, three Swans nominated for the ruck. Three! Hayward, Jack and Sinclair all had their hand up. Do you think this was a deliberate ploy to draw a free? If so, nice attempt to bend some rules.

The Roughead goal to level the scores in the last quarter was preceded by  what may have been Rough’s best mark for the last team weeks. His diving, contested grab was just what Hawthorn needed from their captain.

Ollie Florent had a couple of chances to slot goals from 45 that he’d like to have back. His shot in the last quarter looked like it came off his shin. Funny what pressure can do…

This may have been the least effective game I’ve seen Isaac Smith play this season. 16 touches – at 44% efficiency.

Ricky Henderson’s goal was huge after Luke Breust got a second chance from 50 and had already tested whether he could make the distance – he couldn’t.

Misses to Kieran Jack and Josh Kennedy –both very gettable, really let Hawthorn off the hook.

In the dying minutes, I lost count of how many smothers the Swans made. They were just hurling themselves at the boots of the Hawks.

Breust may have kicked the goal to put the Hawks a couple of kicks up, and Roughead may have delivered it to him, but it was Conor Nash’s tackle on Jake Lloyd that truly set it up. He knocked the stuffing out of Lloyd, and the ball loose as well. Rough pounced, went long to the square and Breust marked on his chest. Great play by the Irishman.

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