Are we sure ‘Holding the Ball’ was the problem?
Two weeks ago Alastair Clarkson explained away the terrible spectacle that was his teams match against North Melbourne with criticism of how umpires adjudicated holding the ball. Given his sides ability to appear in two further stinkers despite the league’s crackdown on holding the ball, was the problem the Hawks all along?
Looking every bit the oldest team in the competition, the Hawks were slow and stilted in attack. Either unwilling to take the game on or totally bereft of the confidence to do so, even when the game was lost, they refused almost every opportunity to take the most attacking path to goal. Even when presented with a free kick in the corridor, they would choose the option that would see them dilly around the wing until any scoring chance was lost.
Perhaps Hawthorn deserved a few more holding the ball free kicks two weeks ago, maybe they didn’t. What isn’t in doubt however, is the that their game plan and execution are more to blame for the horrid spectacles they are involved in than any umpiring decision that didn’t go their way.
How the Game Was Won
Unfortunately for the small crowd in attendance at Giants Stadium, and the television audience watching at home, there was only one team intent on playing football on Friday night. Coming off a disappointing fortnight, Collingwood got off to a flying start and took a five goal to one lead into the first break.
In response the Hawks could barely manage the intensity required for a half-hearted circle work session. Seemingly content that the quarter time margin was insurmountable, they never really fired a shot as they took every option possible to avoid going forward.
Adam Treloar’s second match of the season was much like his first with the Magpie gun picking up possessions at will. Jamie Elliott surprised in the middle to become a one man clearance machine and Darcy Moore was sensational down back. Brodie Mihocek was the most damaging forward with four goals but looked set for a big night out when he had three early.
For the Hawks, Tom Mitchell once again contracted leather poisoning after having 33 touches. Unfortunately for the 2018 Browlow Medallist it will be further fodder for his critics who contend he isn’t damaging enough. A bright spot for their fans on an otherwise tough night was the form of debutant Will Day who showed enough to suggest he is more than capable at this level.
The last three quarters of the match were an old fashioned snooze fest. With the game already on ice, the Magpies seemed to fall foul of the apathy that had consumed the Hawks. The only interest for those who didn’t visit the land of nod, was whether Alastair Clakson’s men would set a new scoring low. As both teams infuriatingly combined for 5.19, the Hawks would finish with just 29 points for the night the lowest scored by an Alastair Clarkson coached team.
What the Coaches Said
Nathan Buckley praised is team for their work around the contest. “We got to work early and I think our work inside was the biggest improvement for us.,” he said. He believed that his team’s leadership through the midfield and their defensive pressure were the bedrocks of the victory. “Led really well Pendes and Tay. Ads, Treloar, Rupert Wills through the middle with Brodie. Our capacity to put pressure on them and to defend the ground throughout the first three quarters (was decisive).”
While not completely happy with the performance he felt they dominated the contest. “Four scoring shots in that time is pretty comprehensive and we were able to get forward often enough,” he said. “If we’d kicked a bit straighter (I) would have liked that through the second and third but we controlled the game for the most part.”
Alastair Clarkson praised the Magpies post match. “We played a good side and they showed us up in that space, particularly early in the game,” he told reporters. “We over-possessed the ball, in our back half particular, and as you indicated we couldn’t take territory with the ball. Then when we turned it over it gave Collingwood the corridor and I think they scored four goals from turnovers in the first quarter,”he said. “From there, even though they still had game ascendancy in the second quarter they didn’t apply the scoreboard pressure that they perhaps could have.”
He was happy with his team’s efforts in the second half but lamented their inability to impact the scoreboard. “Their domination to half time was significant but we hung in there and we played better in the second half,” he said. “But even though we got the ball forward and got the ball inside fifty and we evened up the game in terms of general play we couldn’t get the scoreboard pressure we needed. We really needed to make inroads in the second quarter.”
COLLINGWOOD 5.1 6.5 7.8 8.11 (59)
HAWTHORN 1.0 2.1 2.2 3.9 (27)
Collingwood: Mihocek 4, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Kelly, Cox
Hawthorn: Smith, McEvoy, Gunston
Collingwood: Treloar, Moore, Mihocek, Elliott, Wills, Pendlebury
Hawthorn: Sicily, Mitchell, Smith, Morrison, Day
Collingwood: Kelly (left elbow), Elliott (shin), Scharenberg (ribs)
Hawthorn: Patton (right hamstring)