After clawing their way back within touching distance of the top eight, Hawthorn missed a golden opportunity to climb the ladder. In a season where each week is a potential elimination final, a win would have seen the Hawks make a decent surge up the ladder. However, it was not to be, and they fell short by 11 points.
The result does not tell the full story. The game started in ominous fashion for the Hawks, who fell behind at a rapid rate thanks to some quick ball movement and attacking play by the Giants. Rory Lobb torched the Hawthorn defence with 3 early goals, while Callan Ward led from the front. In contrast, hawthorn looked sluggish and unwilling to move the ball quickly, and goals were as hard to come by as hen’s teeth.
As he has done several time this year, Alastair Clarkson made changes on the fly to peg the Giants back in the second and third quarter. The Giants didn’t help their own cause either, and were guilty of not taking their chances. The game of attrition was eventually won by the Giants in the final quarter, as the Hawks shot themselves in the foot through a number of unforced errors. I must confess, at the end of the game, I wasn’t sure whether I was relieved it was even close given the start, or whether I was disappointed we let this slip. Either way, not a great result.
My standout for the game was Tom Mitchell. The man is in a league of his own. Winning 50 possessions is no mean feat. To achieve it twice in a season and three times in a young career is incredible. Since moving over to the Hawks, Mitchell has racked up 30+ possessions in 28 games. At only 25 years of age, we look forward to many more such record-breaking years.
Luke Breust was handy in keeping the Hawks in touch. After a few quiet weeks, he seems to have found his mojo again. It is crucial for him to keep firing if the Hawks are to make finals. Much has been made about Roughead’s form and position in the team. First things first, I thought Roughy was one of our better players on the ground. He kicked two crucial goals to keep the game alive, and used his footy smarts and toughness to create chances. I will agree he hasn’t been in the form that the Hawthorn faithful are used to, but we have to realise that we are not the side we once were. At his best, Roughead was a good leadup forward who marked on the run. Marking over his head hasn’t been his greatest strength, and our midfield’s service wasn’t exactly A-grade on the night.
Speaking of midfields, ours did get done by the classy GWS midfield. While they haven’t exactly been at their peak, the Giants’ midfield still boasts of some serious quality, which is hard to beat. The fact that we were that close despite getting smashed in clearances and contested ball indicates that our endeavour is there. It just needs to be backed with some polish and class.
There were a few players who had quiet nights. A few of them are at a crucial crossroad in their careers, and will need to sharpen up to keep their spot in the team and at the club. While skill errors are part of the game, what worried me was that a lot of them were unforced errors, and were committed at crucial times in the game. Tim O’Brien overrunning McEvoy’s handball, and Glass dropping a simple chest mark are just two such instances. As Clarko mentioned in his presser, the scoreboard did flatter us a little given our errors and lack of polish. The absences of Burgoyne and Gunston were telling, especially early in the game where the Hawks could have used some wise heads to control the play.
A loss is always hard to swallow, but the key in such a tight season is to bounce back quickly and avoid dropping 2-3 games in a row. We face a Bulldogs outfit that is finding some form. It is important to not allow them to dictate play and grab the initiative early. Go Hawks!
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.3 6.11 11.15 13.17 (95)
HAWTHORN 1.3 5.4 9.5 13.6 (84)
Greater Western Sydney: Lobb 3, Ward 2, de Boer, Himmelberg, Shiel, Hopper, Coniglio, Griffen, Whitfield, Patton
Hawthorn: Bruest 3, Puopolo 2, Roughead 2, Ceglar 2, McEvoy, Sicily, Henderson, Smith
Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Whitfield, Coniglio, Shiel, Davis, Himmelberg
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Smith, Bruest, Sicily, O’Meara, Shiels
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Hawthorn: Langford (finger)
Umpires: Williamson, Fleer, McInerney
Official crowd: 10,866 at Spotless Stadium