AFL 2020: Carlton v Hawthorn – Round Nine Knee Jerk Reaction

Carlton led early but the Hawks led when it mattered in a remarkable encounter at Optus Stadium but did either prove themselves a genuine finals contender?

Is either team top eight material?

Just like Melbourne and the Bulldogs before them in Round Nine, Carlton missed an opportunity to elevate themselves in the minds of the football public. After slow starts to the season all three were presented with an opportunity to reestablish themselves amid finals contention against quality opposition. Unfortunately all each team proved, was that they were ‘Not Good Enough’ instead.

As for Carlton’s opponent, as good as the Hawks were after 20 minutes, they weren’t good enough to erase all memory of their last four games in which they scored 49, 27, 48 & 53. They are an experienced group with a sensational coach, but they aren’t good enough to mix it with the best teams consistently. At the risk of ridicule later on, there was nothing in this match to suggest either Carlton or Hawthorn will play finals in 2020.

How the Game Was Won

For 20 minutes, Carlton were as electrifying as any team has been in 2020 as they kicked the first five goals of the match. Then as if they forgot that games went for closer to 100 minutes than 20, the clocked off and watched Hawthorn take over every aspect of the contest.

While Hawthorn would ultimately kick 14 of the last 18 goals, there were a trio of key moments early in the turnaround that proved critical. Firstly there was Will Davies, who gave the Hawks something to get excited about with a first career goal right out of the top shelf. Then with his team attempting to stem the tide, Patrick Cripps was involved in two bewildering movements inside attacking 50 that saw goal opportunities squandered.

The first saw him play on and into trouble instead of taking a set shot from fifty. As if catching the same yips, Harry McKay also eschewed a set shot to handpass to Cripps inside 50 only to see the play break down. While the final margin would be 31-points, these three plays early as the tide turned were important in seeing Hawthorn’s scoring snowball become an unstoppable avalanche.

As comebacks go, this one was completed relatively quickly and seamlessly. While they were scoreless and trailing by 31-points at the 20 minute mark of the first quarter, by half-time they led by 13-points. It would surprise nobody to learn that, during the second quarter, the Hawks completely dominated disposals (+38), clearances (+3), contested possessions (+9) and inside 50s (+7). As if the genie was out of the bottle, no matter what the Blues tried from this time on they could do little to halt the changed momentum.

What the Coaches Said


A disappointed David Teague believed one issue was at the heart of his team’s dramatic fade out. “We lost the contest,” he told reporters post-match. “Early-on in the game we were winning the contest, then after quarter-time they started to win the contest.

“It’s disappointing.”

As is the case after matches like this one, the Carlton coach was in two minds about the performance. “We played such good footy. We just won the contest and we got the ball deep in the forward line, and our pressure and our tackling was very good,” Teague said. “Our ability to maintain that at the moment is an issue. We need to keep addressing it and keep training it.”


A notably upbeat Alastair Clarkson admitted that the Hawks got some of their structures wrong early in the contest. “Gee they jumped out of the blocks really well,” he told reporters. “We just didn’t have our setups as strong as we’d like,” he said. After ‘correcting this a little’, he believed it was one of the youngsters in the team that really kick started the comeback.

“Will Davies,” he said with a smile on his face. “Early part of his career kicked a really good goal celebrated by all his teammates. It just seemed to ignite us a little bit, then we got going after that. I think after 17-18min mark of the first quarter it was 14 goals to three so it was comprehensive from that point on but gee it was hard work early and we looked all out of sorts.”

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CARLTON          5.1    6.2    7.4     9.4 (58)
HAWTHORN      2.0   8.3    11.4   14.5 (89)

Casboult 3, Newnes 2, Martin 2, Cuningham, Cripps
Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Shiels 2, Smith 2, Breust 2, Day, O’Meara, O’Brien, Impey, Wingard

Cripps, Weitering, Casboult, Curnow, Martin
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Worpel, Gunston, O’Meara, Burgoyne, Shiels, Breust

Hawthorn: Nil

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