Hawks prevail in für alte Tiere
WE knew, just knew, it would be an epic. Even with Hawthorn well ahead on the scoreboard. We just knew.
Geelong just brings out the best in the Hawks. And visa versa.
They had their chances, the Cats. After losing the early territory battle yesterday the Hawks feasted on basic Geelong skill errors and a distinct lack of horsepower up forward outside of Tom Hawkins.
Therein lies the problem for Cats coach Chris Scott. Too many chiefs in and around the ball-winning areas and only the one avenue to goal.
Patrick Dangerfield threatened to blow the contest apart, posting 20 disposals in the first half alone, including 13 contested possessions.
Gary Ablett chipped in with 15 disposals in the same period, one more than Joel Selwood (six), Tim Kelly (five) and Mitch Duncan (three) combined.
Losing ruckman Rhys Stanley (calf) in the second quarter only compounded Geelong’s woes as Hawthorn squeezed and strangled the Cats.
That last quarter was something else, Ablett finishing with three goals while Kelly sprung to life in red time.
But the Cats paid for clumsy errors and all of a sudden the premiership dream punctured.
They lacked urgency and spirit for much of the day, bar Dangerfield, especially his rock-star midfield lieutenants.
Geelong’s star-studded midfield — bar Dangerfield — was completely outplayed and outworked by the Hawks, who feasted on the mantra of many hands make light work, with Tom Mitchell well held.
“We played great passages of footy when we had to rather than really starting that way,” Dangerfield, who brushed off a corked thigh in the second half, said.
“We weren’t great around the ball. Our efficiency wasn’t that good. We dropped marks in critical areas and the same with turnovers. So when you turn the ball over against Hawthorn in areas that you have po- tential to score, they’re so good at sling-shotting and maintaining possession that they turn your scoring opportunities into scoring opportunities for them.”
James Worpel stepped up again and inspired a crucial goal after body-lining Joel Selwood in the third term.
Liam Shiels called the shots around stoppages, while the oldest player on the ground, Shaun Burgoyne, led all-comers with a career-best 13 tackles.
The Hawks had lost four of their past five against Geelong before this 11-point thriller.
Acting captain Isaac Smith sparked the onslaught with two clutch goals and 12 possessions
in the second quarter and stymied a late surge with an intercept mark inside the Toyota logo. Luke Breust and Jack Gunston slotted important goals to help the Hawks cement their place inside the top four.
With so much big game experience and premiership mastermind Alastair Clarkson at the helm, who wants to face this lot in a final?
INSPIRATIONAL: Hawthorn’s James Worpel skips away from Geelong superstar Gary Ablett. Picture: MICHAEL KLEIN
STANDING TALL: Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield takes a strong defensive mark.