It was ugly, defensive, mistake-riddled and the sort of game for three quarters you would not even dare show someone who was looking to get into the game
We had a score line that saw a combined score of less than 80 points at three quarter time, but an eight goal last quarter made watching the game for the previous three quarters worthwhile.
If you just happened to turn the TV on as the last quarter started, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a classic. That would not have been the case. As much as I enjoyed the last 30 minutes of footy, it barely made up for such a poor game early on, where conservative footy was the order of the day from both sides.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
Black eye? Check.
Sticky hands? Check.
A forward that’s showing enough for Hawthorn fans to get excited about? Check again.
Mitch Lewis has been one of those players Hawthorn has been waiting for to arrive. Well, he’s here.
After copping a nasty head-high knock in the first quarter, and sporting a great shiner as a result, Lewis went to the bench, got the all clear and came back to become the presence in the air the Hawks have been missing. He clunked three contested marks inside 50 and contested well all game.
His two goals are exactly the kind of outcome the Hawks would’ve wanted from their young spearhead in just his ninth game. Hawthorn supporters have been wondering whether Lewis would be ready to come in and do the job this season. After a break back in the VFL, it appeared as though they may have to wait.
But the wait is over, and Mitchell Lewis announced his arrival in emphatic style this evening.
I’ll just get this out of the way – when James Sicily walks into tackles and makes little attempt to do anything with the ball, I wanted to gouge my eyes out. Actually, no… I want to gouge his eyes out!
I don’t know what he’s thinking or doing in those instances, but geez he looks a bit silly when he does it – he is inviting the pressure AND he is being pinged for holding the ball. It’s a huge flaw in his game.
Righto…. That’s out of the way. He was a superstar tonight. He made Mason Cox look fourth of fifth rate as he used his hands, forearms and body to expertly manoeuvre his opponent under the footy on multiple occasions.
He took five contested grabs, with four coming in direct opposition to Cox, had 28 touches at 93% efficiency, and had ten intercept possessions.
I was starting to wonder whether Clarkson’s move to send Sicily to the forward line in the past two games would hurt his chances for AA selection, but based on his manhandling of Cox, I think Sicily on the half back flank is a great look for that team.
BEN MCEVOY V BRODIE GRUNDY
We saw Max Gawn give Grundy a nice little touch up a few weeks ago, and even though Grundy was ill, it exposed a bit of a chink in the armour of the league’s best big man, and Ben McEvoy took a bit of notice.
The first half saw the men battle to a draw, with Grundy having half time stats of eight touches and 12 hitouts. McEvoy was comparable with six disposals and 12 hit outs as well.
The third quarter belonged to Grundy as he worked up the ground and back, clunking marks and gaining disposals, placing his stamp on the contest in the process. He put a bit of distance between him and McEvoy, with the stats favouring the Pies’ big man. Grundy had 13 disposals and 25 hitouts to McEvoy's 9/19 by the last change.
The final quarter, however, saw a huge lift from McEvoy as he drifted forward to kick a vital goal to give the Hawks the momentum.
In the wash up, you have Grundy finish with 34 hit outs to McEvoy’s 29, but some of Grundy’s taps to de Goey in particular were sublime. You counter that by looking at the goal from McEvoy and the brilliant tap in the dying minutes that gave the Hawks the vital final centre clearance.
If you offered Alastair Clarkson a draw between the two big men at the start of the game, I reckon he may have taken it. Bucks… not so much. Taking that into account, a breakeven between the two here is really a win for the Hawks.
Last season, I thought we started to see signs that Pendles was perhaps starting to enter a new phase of his career – one where he is not the best midfielder at Collingwood. After a four-year strangle hold on the Copeland Trophy, Pendlebury saw Steele Sidebottom and Brodie Grundy both stake their claims at Collingwood over the past couple of seasons, and with Adam Treloar and Taylor Adams getting better, and the addition of Dayne Beams… I thought Pendles might be the one who was forced to find another role.
I was wrong.
It turns out he was carrying a bit of a back injury last year that really impeded his ability to get around the park and take the hits that would inevitably come his way. With that injury well and truly behind him, Pendles has returned to the position of number one mid in the Collingwood rotation, and his last quarter showed why.
He had nine touches in the last, but it was the quality of them that made them stand out. His centre break after the Pies drew to within a kick was breathtaking, and his ability to assess and deliver the footy had him head and shoulders above the rest.
With his influence curtailed in the first half by Daniel Howe, Pendlebury broke the shackles after half time to finish with 17 of his 25 disposals in the third and fourth quarters.
When the Pies needed their leader, he stepped to the fore. If only a few more had followed.
DE GOEY CLASS
The third quarter was a disaster if you like attacking footy. As both teams sent play down the line repeatedly, goals were hard to come by.
After an early goal to Luke Breust to keep the Hawks close, it was a full 21 minutes of actual game time expired before Jordan de Goey thought enough was definitely enough. Roving a beautiful tap inside 50 from Brodie Grundy, he hit the ball at full pace, threw the footy onto his boot and watched as it sailed through the goals from 40 metres out.
It was a stark reminder that when on, de Goey is as close to an unstoppable force as there is in the game.
His move into the centre in the last quarter was pivotal in several Collingwood scoring opportunities, and I am not sure whether his ability to head into the guts and make such a significant impact is a tip of the hat to how good he is, or a kick in the pants for the rest of the Magpie mids for not getting the bloody job done!
He finished with 21 touches, two goals and five clearances in the sort of game that sat on the precipice of dominance but never quite got there.
If Ricky Henderson is leading the Peter Crimmins Medal, how far behind could Jarman Impey possibly be?
Recklessly courageous and brilliant to watch with the ball in hand, Impey looks to have completely owned his role in the Hawthorn defence now, floating across the front of packs, backing into larger opponents, and providing the kind of run and carry from defence teams dream of.
He had 25 touches at 80% efficiency across half back, and gained over 500 metres for the Hawks on the night. He just looks like a footballer who now knows he can play with the best the league has to offer, and beat them! You have to love a player with that kind of confidence.
Moore gave Jack Gunston a real bath tonight as he severely restricted the influence of the All-Australian forward.
He’s nowhere near as noticeable without the Mo Hope hair style, and his efforts in this game were fitting of his new no-fuss do. He was workmanlike, effective and was one of only two players to notch double figures in intercept possessions for the game.
The other was Sicily.
Darcy Moore has developed a commanding presence inside defensive 50, and tonight he had some great company in Matt Scharenberg, who made a terrific comeback to senior level.
In fact, the defensive trio of Moore, Scharenberg and Jordan Roughead hardly put a foot wrong all night as they defended resolutely against Hawthorn’s insistence on bombing high and long inside 50. The floodgates may have opened in the last quarter for the Hawks, but it was not due to the efforts of the three aforementioned back men.
Dig if you will, the picture – 22 players on the park who chase and tackle with the intent of Paul Puopolo.
I’m not sure he gets anywhere near enough credit for the little things he does for his football team. People look at stats and goals and judge him on them… no, no, no. Don’t do that.
You remember how people feared the Cyril Rioli chase down tackles? Remember how they’d look over their shoulders when Cyril was in the area? Poppy, whilst obviously not on Cyril’s level with that (is anyone?), has an element of that to his game. At times when any other player on the park would give the cursory three-quarter pace chase out of defence, Paul Puopolo busts his ass to make even a miniscule difference on an opposition disposal.
He led the game with seven tackles, but things like fighting for a loose ball and turning the situation into a true 50-50… those things are Puopolo specials.
With 183 games under his belt at Hawthorn, and at 31 years of age, Puopolo is in the twilight of his career, but he plays with a passion and determination of someone who is out to prove himself every single time he steps foot on the field.
There are a lot of AFL players who could learn a lot about application from him. If you picked a team based on effort every week, I reckon Poppy would have to be nudging the first man selected.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
His overall game is probably not worthy of a heap of praise, but the decision making and delivery of Liam Shiels in the final quarter was off the charts.
His kick to Daniel Howe who set up McEvoy was wonderful and gutsy. It was right through the corridor, but Shiel took the risk and the Hawks reaped the rewards. It was another well-directed kick in the last quarter to Mitch Lewis which gave the young man his second goal, and the Hawks the lead, that capped a nice day for Shiels.
He is an unsung hero of this club, and with the kind of game he plays, is not one to gain a lot of attention, but we here at The Mongrel see you, Liam, and those two deliveries in the last quarter were difference makers.
If you’re going to read below, this is my pre-emptive apology for Tim O’Brien. He played a very good last quarter, contested, took marks, gained metres and threw his body into contest after contest.
No, I do not like the way he plays, but his last quarter gave further justification to those who believe he should be in the side every week.
That said, I am really not sure about putting the heat on a second gamer with the game ostensibly on the line. O’Brien’s pass came off, but only just, and Oliver Hanrahan was able to convert a shot that O’Brien probably should’ve converted himself.
All’s well that ends well, though? Maybe. I think it spoke volumes about the confidence O’Brien has in his own abilities.
I want to float an idea after his poor start this week, and the way he started against West Coast. How about the Hawks send O’Brien forward for the first quarter, allow him to settle in and get a feel for the game, THEN switch him back?
When he makes his mistakes, they’re usually early, and he rounds into the game quite well once that initial heat is off. Why not mitigate those errors by removing him from the area they’ll be most costly?
Have you ever watched the Never-ending Story? Spoiler alert – it actually ends, but there is a sequel.
Anyway, in this movie, there is a character… no, not a character – more a force of nature. And it is called ‘The Nothing”. You never see it, but you know it’s there. It has the ability to destroy the entire world and it cannot be stopped. People fear it and at times it is irrepressible.
Yet at the end of the movie, everything is okay. The Nothing fails. As big and bad as it was, it was ultimately only as powerful as you believed it was.
Just like Mason Cox tonight.
He was absolutely pantsed by James Sicily in the air as he amassed stats of six disposals, three marks and a goal. As the big forward target, Cox was comprehensively beaten by a man about a foot shorter. They don’t keep stats for this, or at least they don’t make them available to a shmo like me, but I’d love to know how many times Cox was cleanly beaten in a one-on-one tonight.
I don’t care about break-evens – I just want to know how many times he was beaten. I reckon it’d vastly outweigh the combined total of his wins and his break-even contests.
There has been a lot of talk about whether the Pies can have Cox, Mihocek and Ben Reid in the same team. Cox would be thanking his lucky stars Reid is recovering from injury at the moment. It is by virtue of this that he gets another shot at it next week.
There was no sticking his tongue out this week. No trash talking. No strut. Just a guy who did bugger all most of the night and was beaten in the area he should be dominating. Tonight, Mason Cox was The Nothing, because that’s the impact he had on the game, and if the Pies had the soldiers to choose from, you’d be tempted to end his story right now. Or at least put it back on the shelf for a little while.
Also, The Never-ending Story 2 sucked.
Well, this was the opportunity he was waiting for, right? The Collingwood midfield was depleted and in need of an in-and-under, hard-at-it midfielder; the stage was set for Brayden Sier to make an impact.
He had one disposal worth remembering tonight, a late snap that kept the Pies in the contest. For the rest of the evening, he was a complete non-factor. Of his nine touches - yep… just nine touches, only four of them hit the mark, and he managed to lay just one tackle for the night.
How long until Taylor Adams gets back?
A fair few Magpie fans I have spoken to recently have talked up Sier, with comments indicating that they would rather have him in the team than Dayne Beams.
Not on tonight’s performance, you wouldn’t. Sier had a nightmare of a game, and will be lucky to hold his place next week.
THE FIRST THREE QUARTERS
Oh yes…never has something fit the ‘Ugly’ category more completely.
This game was hard to watch. I was chatting with others on the Mongrel team and the sense of frustration was palpable.
The commentators spoke of the coaches looking like chess masters plotting their next moves. To me, it looked more like two blokes refusing to take a risk and lamenting that what they were doing wasn't working. It made for a poor spectacle.
I don’t want to single Bucks out here, because a) I genuinely like the way he goes about it, and b) I have no other reason, but I’ve heard him state many times that he backs his guys in. He backs them to win contests, to stick to structures, and to do what Collingwood do to the level that’ll see them win.
But what about when they don’t do things that well? What then? Does he continue to back them and his style, or does he shake it up to give his team a chance?
And Clarko… far out, how does he persist with blokes like O’Brien, Nash and Glass. Between those three players, I reckon they accounted for all of Hawthorn’s worst turnovers. O’Brien’s kick backwards in the first quarter almost made me vomit. It was a 20 metre kick to a wide open Glass, who then compounded things by missing his target, allowing Jordan de Goey to goal. I remember thinking “you deserved that, Hawthorn”.
I think they deserved it for playing these blokes who just don’t look up to it. Nash looks completely lost. When the ball hits the deck and there are decisions to be made, he has two moves. One is to stand there and start to get involved but by the time he does, the ball is gone. The other is to give a free kick away. We saw both tonight. I called Cox ‘The Nothing’ earlier on, but sans a handball to Breust late in the game, that name could fit Nash quite easily as well.
I HATED this game until three quarter time. Absolutely hated it. It was dour and it was clumsy. It was down the line and back again, and that, my friends, rests with the coaching of Messrs Buckley and Clarkson.
Hawks fans will be rapt to get four points after a bit of a drought. Collingwood supporters will lament the decisions that saw Collingwood play down to Hawthorn’s level. With a team as skilled and exciting as Buckley possesses, how can they play that brand of footy?
Isaac Quaynor showed plenty this evening. His attack on the footy was great and his willingness to take the ball and run with it added a dynamic to the Pies defence. Did he remind you of anyone? I don’t want to upset my old mate Adam La Porta, but I reckon there’s a little Harry O’Brien in Quaynor in the way he grabs the footy and takes off.
It’s the twelfth time this season Adam Treloar has gone over 30 disposals. The man is a machine. He also led the game in clearances with nine.
On Gunston’s missed goal off the deck, how many times out of 100 would he nail that and score a goal for the Hawks? I am guessing mid-90s.
Probably Rick Henderson’s worst game for the season. With just four touches to half time, Chris Mayne was really doing a number on him.
How’d Luke Breust go in game 200? 17 touches and four tackles are nice numbers, but it was his centring kick to Mitch Lewis in the second quarter, after taking time to direct traffic whilst running at full tilt that was most impressive. It’s one thing to point to the spot, but it’s another to lay the ball across your body and hit the forward perfectly. The man is skilful… you have to give him that.
I’d be interested to know whether Collingwood supporters noticed the Pies NOT kicking to Mihocek much in the last quarter? I thought he was an excellent get out of jail kick for the Pies most of the evening.
Bit of a five minute purple patch for Josh Daicos in the second quarter. Maybe a bit of a sign of things to come? Really hope that dropping at the knees isn’t a part of his repertoire in an ongoing capacity, however.
Loved Burgoyne’s desperation in the contest, particularly early in the piece.
How do you reckon Will Hoskin-Elliott would feel right about now? Dropped a chest mark on a beautiful delivery from Pendlebury and then kicked it on the full, and moments later did everything but hold onto the big mark in the goal square. Not a great last quarter for him.
So, are the Pies shot? No… don’t be silly. I seem to remember a huge slump by the West Coast Eagles last season that saw them lose three games in a row. We all know how that ended, right? Collingwood have a solid team, and will regroup. To write them off now would be A-Grade idiocy… but I am sure a few will – it sells newspapers and generates clicks. Good luck to them.
And what about the Hawks? I thought 10-12 was a likely finish and still do. Wins like this are nice, but won’t be too common for the rest of the year. I don’t think they’ll win many games scoring 26 points in a half.
The Pies have the Eagles next Friday night in Perth, while the Hawks head to Tassie to play Freo. As big a result as tonight was, if the eagles knock over the Pies, and the Hawks take care of Freo… that final eight race really starts heating up.
And it was warm enough already.
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