They say there two certainties in life, death and taxes. I say there are three, because you can add an Easter Monday classic to that list. Easter is a time for family and celebration. Well, that is until Easter Monday, when one of the biggest rivalries in footy gives us one more chapter. This fixture doesn’t usually disappoint, and Monday 2 April was no exception. With a win under their belt against a listless Collingwood outfit, the Hawks started season 2018 on the right footing. A win against the Cats would give them momentum, and a good buffer given their tough draw. It would be no easy task however, as Geelong boasted of an impressive midfield (who eventually combined for 95 touches and 4 goals).
Alastair Clarkson is the master of continuous improvement, and this Hawthorn side of 2018 is a classic example. The Hawks set the tone early with pressure on the ball carrier and dogged tackling. Jarman Impey did his credentials no harm with his efforts, and slotted home the first goal for the Hawks. From there, it was almost goal for goal for a while, as both teams looked to attack. Hawthorn were impressive with their spread and run, and reaped the rewards with some slick entries into forward 50. If not for some poor goal kicking, they could have had a more significant lead at half time.
The second half had a similar tone to it, with the Hawks piling the pressure on in the third quarter, but failing to completely capitalise on the scoreboard. Geelong took advantage of turnovers and rebounds and helped themselves to 4 third quarter goals. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Hawks led by 18 points. True to form, Geelong came back at an alarming rate, and were propelled forward by Ablett, Dangerfield and Selwood. Ray Chamberlain also tore the Hawks to shreds, and I am surprised Clarko decided against tagging him. Despite a last gasp effort, Geelong fell short by a point, as Hawthorn claimed a momentous victory.
Shaun Burgoyne injured his hamstring and did not participate for a majority of the game, and the late change of Brand for Frawley meant that the defence was quite inexperienced. They did give a good account of themselves, however, and kept the Geelong forwards accountable. Rhys Stanley kicked 2 first half goals, but was absolutely monstered by Ben McEvoy, who also took a classic pack mark and helped himself to a goal in the second quarter.
McEvoy’s dominance ensured that Mitchell and O’Meara got good use of the footy. There were rumours that Mitchell would be tagged, and I think someone must have, because he only managed 40 disposals, 13 clearances and 23 contested possessions. If his form drops this alarmingly, he might need a stint at Box Hill. Jokes aside, the champion onballer was a constant threat, and dominated clearances and contested situations. He also kicked two vital goals. O’Meara is steadily finding form, and with his 21 disposals with 8 contested possessions and 6 clearances, he proved to be the ideal foil for Mitchell.
I like the look of Jarman Impey and admire his attack on the ball. With him and Cyril in the side attacking, forcing errors and creating chances, the likes of Smith and Henderson are able to play their usual game on the wing. Both wingers chipped in with 2 goals, and Impey helped himself to 2, as well as set one up beautifully for Gunston. Roughead and Gunston looked good and marked well. They need to convert better and create more scoreboard pressure.
The Hawks also need to eliminate the unforced errors and turnovers in defence, which led to Geelong goals and kept them in the game. Next week poses a good challenge for this young side, who seem to be gaining confidence and gelling well together. It will be interesting to see who comes in for Burgoyne and Sicily, and whether Frawley is fit to play. The midfield battle will be crucial, and we hope that Mitchell and O’Meara can continue their run and power the Hawks to another victory.
HAWTHORN 5.3 11.8 14.13 17.16 (118) defeated GEELONG 5.1 8.2 12.7 18.9 (117)
Hawthorn: I Smith 2 J Gunston 2 J Impey 2 J Roughead 2 R Henderson 2 T Mitchell 2 B McEvoy D Howe J O’Meara L Shiels P Puopolo.
Geelong: D Menzel 4 J Parsons 2 P Dangerfield 2 R Stanley 2 B Parfitt C Gregson G Ablett J Selwood L Fogarty S Menegola T Hawkins T Kelly.
Hawthorn: Mitchell, McEvoy, Impey, Smith, Shiels, Roughead, Gunston.
Geelong: Menzel, Dangerfield, Ablett, Selwood, Tuohy, Parfitt, Kelly
Umpires: Troy Pannell, Ray Chamberlain, Robert O’Gorman.
Official Crowd: 73,189 at MCG.