The Footy Almanac 2008. Round 14 Hawks vs Eagles
A Friday night thrashing in which Roughead kicked six and Buddy won a heart...
The Footy Almanac 2008 is widely available at bookshops.
Hawthorn versus West Coast
7.40pm, Friday, 27 June
Melbourne Cricket Ground
FRIDAY night in later June and the weather is on our side. We take our seats, high up in the Olympic Stand, just shy of the fifty-metre arc, not quite sure what to expect. During the pre-game warm-up all eyes are on Buddy Franklin. He takes about ten shots at goal for a score of 1.6, with two landing in the forward pocket
and one out of bounds. This does not bode well.
The game is played in two halves. The first and third quarter comprise one half and it ain’t pretty. At times West Coast play like they couldn’t care less.
Hawthorn’s plan seems to be based on kindergarten games of keepings-off, join the dots and pin the tail on the donkey, none of which they do well enough to earn an elephant stamp. The result: Hawthorn 5.15 (45) to West Coast 3.7 (25). Is this why some seasoned punters are muttering that the Hawks are pretenders?
The third quarter is uglier than the first. The Eagles pile on three goals, one to Ashley Hansen, gift-wrapped by the umpire, while the Hawks pile on behinds.
Buddy gets no love from the men with whistles but he does manage to kick Hawthorn’s solitary goal for the quarter. Hawthorn’s Brent Renouf, who does a good job rucking in Simon Taylor’s stead, is reported for lifting the elbow and will surely be out for a week or two.
One of the few shining lights is the Hawks’ Cyril Rioli. He is an old-fashioned player. He keeps kicking the ball up the middle of the ground. This is confusing and confronting for some of his teammates who immediately steer the ball back to a flank or the wing where it can be passed around a lot without going anywhere. Mercifully for Hawthorn, Trent Croad and Brent Guerra keep the backline together; they hardly let the wind past their watch.
The better half of footy, played in the second and last quarters, is worth the price of admission. In these two quarters Hawthorn kicks 13.3 (81) to the Eagles’ 6.8 (44). The Hawks have it on a string. The famed forward line lives up to expectations, Buddy and Jarryd Roughead kicking nine goals between them.
As Tom Hafey used to say, they have an umbilical cord to the goal. When Buddy puts a finely bent banana through the big sticks from deep in the pocket late in the second quarter he lifts us all. My wife, not your most diehard fan, is ready to annul our bond. I point out that he is only 21 and her eyes light up.
In these quarters Hawthorn’s midfielders move it quickly down the ground, giving their forwards plenty of space. This Hawks team is mighty, like premiership contenders. Buddy has found his rhythm but Roughead is leading
the band. He takes one from Croad on the chest and kicks truly. A little later Rioli, ignoring a bit of push-and-shove that looks like it might turn into a French word, grabs the ball, bolts up the ground and hands it to Roughead for another goal.
Daniel Kerr, Matt Priddis and Dean Cox keep the Eagles within striking distance. Kerr plays a blinder but it isn’t enough. Priddis is kind-of effective, except in the forward line. Rested in the third, Hawthorn’s Luke Hodge is back on the ground for the last quarter and he’s ready to run. In the first 45 seconds, Sam Mitchell passes to Hodge who quickly sends it down to Roughead who kicks a goal. Then Jamie McNamara, a lightly raced Eagles player, under pressure, shanks the ball and the Hawks swoop down and get another. More goals follow.
Hodge has his fingerprints all over them. The game ends with a beauty from Grant Birchall on the siren. Nice.
Two young Eagles supporters sit just in front of us, with the kind of expression Burke and Wills surely had as their excellent adventure turned to sand.
They hardly barrack, staring into a bleak future. It is dawning on these starcrossed kids that your team sometimes finishes at the, gulp, bottom. Hey, there was no mention of that in the membership kit.
The Hawks limp off the ground having won by 57 points. Was it a good game?
Not really. But it was enough for the Hawks. They have a week off and undoubtedly need the rest. For the Eagles, this is going to be a very long year. Even John Worsfold, the coach, seems defeated. At the post-match press conference he just shrugs and says West Coast played as well as you would have expected.
Hawthorn 18.18 (126) West Coast 9.15 (69)