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The Mongrel Wrap - Hawthorn v GWS

Sachin Tendulkar never scored an international ton at Lords. Ivan Lendl never won Wimbledon despite dominating the tennis scene of the ‘80s. Lee Trevino never won the Masters in his 29 career titles.

Today, the suggestion was that the Giants use “feather touch”, in relying on their superior skills and gut running to overcome a lackluster Hawthorn side, only to instead select “power drive”, trying to match Hawthorn for some rugged in and under footy and see their finals hopes end up in the car park. Certainly not looking for one minute, the team that every kid wants to win the premiership.

If today is any indication, the Giants cannot play the MCG, and will add to a list of dominant types across sporting codes who never delivered where it counted.

Teams would be watching intently to see how the master coach, Alistair Clarkson managed to shut down the GWS midfield, and make their own versions accordingly. How do the Giants respond after a display that provided question marks over their ability to react when the opposition play keepings offs for prolonged periods of time? How do they work on their kick-out strategy on the bigger grounds, when it looked completely unsuited to the bigger grounds when forced to go wider? Which of the star Giants midfielders will show the leadership required to go play a defensive role at the stoppages, when the footy was going entirely one way?

This is the Mongrel Wrap, and plenty more.

BEST ON GROUND

Ben McEvoy

15 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, 7 score involvements, 2 inside 50s, 33 hitouts

What could have been had Shane Mumford been available for selection. The few fans that braved calling in sick to Mothers’ Day Lunch to instead go to the game were robbed of a great contest between 2 of the great ruckmen of the competition. Instead, Ben McEvoy treated himself to a day off, pitted against the offerings of Dawson Simpson instead, and took full advantage.

Not only did the Hawks’ midfield group get the far better use of the footy at the centre bounces, it exposed some significant defensive flaws in the GWS midfield in the process. Watch the first quarter as a pretty good example of Josh Kelly continually positioning himself at the centre bounces where he could reasonably expect Big Mummy to tap it down to him more often than not – except Dawson Simpson never really looked like getting a clean hit out to advantage when pitted against Ben McEvoy.

After about ten minutes into the first quarter, you see a noticeable change in how Jimmy Worpel manned Kelly at the stoppages, from wearing him like a glove to instead positioning himself on the other side of the contest, and letting Kelly have as much free access to some very limited supply. I reckon Worpel had the better of that clash with Kelly – and I’d put it down largely to the faith he was able to impart on McEvoy winning the ruck battle. Kelly going at 64% is probably a generous reflection on his day just the same.

Yet Kelly stuck at this for the rest of the game. Easy touches, no interest in influencing the result as it was fast getting away from the Giants (also in fairness a criticism of the Giants’ coaching staff who seemed very reluctant to try much else all day), and minimal match awareness in realizing where things were going wrong. Yes, the Giants need a decent back up ruckman desperately, but outside of a reincarnated Manute Bol, it’s not going to be for much if the Giants midfielders aren’t prepared to sacrifice their game and stats sheet for the team.

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James Frawley

17 touches, 8 marks, 2 tackles, kept Jeremy Cameron to 0.4

He’s a pretty maligned figure at Waverley Park these days, but Frawley’s performance in shutting down the runaway leader of the Coleman Medal in Jeremy Cameron was not only pretty reminiscent of the job he did on Josh Kennedy in the 2015 Grand Final, but one that no defender has got close to emulating so far this year.

A lot of credit certainly has to go to the Hawks’ backline who supported their full back admirably throughout the day, Scrimshaw and Stratton filling the hole for Cameron to lead into beautifully. You could even point out that the incident that saw Frawley shove Cameron into the LED signs on the boundary line was probably the turning point in the battle. That shook him up a bit. It really gave cause for him to go back into his shell and he wasn’t quite the intimidating presence we normally get from Jeremy. Nonetheless, double the amount of marks taken by Frawley than his direct opponent speaks volumes to his influence today.

But more questions need to be asked about Jeremy Cameron’s MCG record. 21 goals at the G from 11 games, with seven of them coming in one game against Collingwood. Too many times today you saw him take very questionable leading patterns to areas that any full forward would struggle to take a set shot from, or even just where he’d try to place the ball to get the best assistance from the breeze on offer was just woefully off, something any regular visitor to the ‘G wouldn’t get wrong, ending up with four very gettable behinds for the day.

Ricky Henderson

36 touches, 10 marks, 5 score involvements, 7 inside 50’s

He’s a left field choice if you’re compiling your All-Australian team, but I reckon he’s giving it a real shake. Hawthorn’s most consistent performer for 2019 by a long way. Showed up some much bigger name opponents off effort alone. I’ve spoken before about how midfielders who play consistently well on the ‘G aren’t picky about where they get their kicks, and how wide they need to roam to find them.

Henderson’s heat map today shows a lot of kicks wide on the wings, mopping up in defence and bobbing up forward. Can tell you now that Stephen Coniglio’s doesn’t get anywhere near as expansive.

Gets my last vote against a desperately unlucky Heath Shaw who was the only Giant to have a crack all day.

 

WORST ON GROUND

Adam Tomlinson

16 touches, 8 marks, 4 hitouts,  2 score involvements, 3 inside 50’s.

Here possibly by virtue of the fact that we’ve already looked at how ineffective Dawson Simpson was today, and it’s a pretty decent flow on from the previous point made about how playing far and wide on the ‘G will get you places.

Probably not the way Adam Tomlinson did today though. I feel for the bloke – he's not played out of position, because he doesn’t have one, and never really has. Today he just ran around aimlessly, not getting near the ball, waiting for Leon Cameron to do something with him. You’ve got Dawson Simpson getting slaughtered in the ruck, Jeremy Cameron well held up forward, and the midfield just bullied out of it. Surely you’d look to Tomlinson to fill one of those holes, if even in a trial and error perspective? Try a new look at the centre bounce set ups with a bigger body crashing in, or even have him effectively tag McEvoy around the ground so his dominance being a third man up in marking contests wasn’t so pronounced.

Instead, he seemingly played wide of the footy as much as possible for the most part. As handy as he is to have in your side, if you’re not going to use him effectively, you may as well let St Kilda offer a contract well over his market value, and save some money for a decent crack at retaining Coniglio and Haynes.

It was around this stage in his career, that Anthony Koutofides was given a crack at holding down centre half back for a year and made it his own. Given the plethora of quality tall defenders the Giants have – that's never going to be an option. Nonetheless, he’s the highest paid spare parts man in the competition.

Zac Williams

22 touches at 63%, 9 contested, 7 clangers

Was going to put a talking point in here about the dilemma the Giants have about them, with Lachie Whitfield due to resume next week from a thigh injury. In his absence, Zac Williams has stepped up big time as an attacking defender, his use of the footy off half back as good as anyone in the competition in the week and a half Whitfield’s missed – do the Giants move Whitfield back in to the midfield with Williams getting back to the form shown in 2017 before his Achilles tear?

After today, probably not. A defensive liability at times as the Hawks played through his man quite a bit, and showing that he struggles to get body on body, let alone know where his opponent is while the ball’s in the air. As crafty as Paul Puopolo is as a small forward, he looked like Wayne Carey at times with the ease he was able to push Williams aside or get out the back of contests from him.

63% disposal effectiveness when the majority are uncontested and stemming from the kick-in duties is terrible also.

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Tim O’Brien

14 touches, 8 marks, 2 tackles

Could easily have had him or his direct opponent, Jeremy Finlayson here. Do I pot the bloke who was the only real forward threat the Giants had all day? Three goals out of five is a fair effort. On the other hand, that tackle resulting in a holding the ball free O’Brien laid on Cameron was huge. Was also probably his only real positive contribution to the day.

That opening five minutes where the smaller Finlayson managed to outbody and outpoint O’Brien in two separate marking contests were the sort of thing that send Hawthorn supporters into a rage about O’Brien and his inability to put any physical pressure on his direct opponent – the rangy frame that he’s been developing for what seems like forever, that Ryan Schoenmakers still appears a better option.

It’s a real sliding doors moment in how the game panned out that Finlayson missed those two set shots. Felt like the only two centre bounce clearances that the Giants won all day too. What could have been indeed...

OTHER BITS AND PIECES

  • Could have sworn that the AFL had made it clear that the kung-fu kick was a reportable offence after the previous incident with Caleb Daniel last year. Yet, no report made against Toby Greene after he pulled it out in the first quarter, and a 50 metre penalty only given after he slung his Hawthorn opponent to the ground after the whistle was blown. Not convinced by the “natural/instinctive action” defence at all either.

  • Whilst Jarryd Roughead had a day out in the VFL with five goals, that was still the best the Hawthorn forward line has functioned all year, and was a real showcase game for what Mitchell Lewis can do in effectively the same role. By the same point, you could argue that may be as a result of no Chad Wingard either. Richmond have struggled against the bigger forward lines this year – it’d be bloody tempting to swing him straight back in and see if you can find a mismatch there.

  • Matt De Boer another rare winner for the Giants today – lowering Jaeger O’Meara’s colours for the second week in a row. There aren’t too many more underrated taggers going around there. O’Meara’s chance to hit a ton on a flat deck with questionable bowling on offer, and De Boer cleaned him up instead.

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