|See you in September, Cats???|
Well, if you believe most of the Hawks 'faithful,' this is the 'reality' after Geelong dispatched us in round 1.
Excuse my cynicism in dismissing this as hysterics, mostly emanating from the bandwagon dwellers.
If you strip the loss bare, one has to tip their hat to a fine display from Geelong, highlighted by the stellar Patrick Dangerfield. Counter to this was the lesser lights standing up and contributing in the face of his inspiration.
Hawthorn was the polar opposite with few standing up and when they did it was in bursts. The Cats were on top of their game, but we made them look stellar with our glaring skill errors, flawed decisions and absence of any intensity. The delivery into a forward line lacking any noted contested marking option but highlighted by a brilliant mosquito fleet made one fume. Especially with Geelong's backline highlighted by intercept marking mavericks like Harry Taylor. Despite the Geelong Ace continuously feasting on our tepid entries, we still continued to bomb to the likes of Rioli/Bruest and Poppy.
Up there for thinking lads?
The theme of frustration continuing after the break where a fightback to assume the lead was laid to waste by conceding two embarrassingly soft goals to Darch Lang and Cam Guthrie to start the last.
Momentum lost, complacency replacing intensity, culminating in the last rites administered by our collective hands....
' Unproven depth is not Depth....'
We had a few key names out in Jarryd Roughead, Brad Hill and Liam Shiels on top of the retirements of Brian Lake and David Hale.
Sadly their replacements were lacking, exposing our much talked up depth as a myth, rather than reality.
Roughead, our forward centrepiece was the key absentee. The responsibility falling on James Sicily and Ryan Shoenmakers to fill his massive void. Sicily exposed as a virtual babe in the woods and Shoenmakers struggling with the extra focus on him. He revelled last year getting the third or fourth backman, shielded by Roughead and others, but when the emphasis fell on him to be the key forward, he struggled.
The midfield received a smashing, bar a Burgoyne inspired lift in the third. It exposed a still unhealthy reliance on Mitchell and the absence of others to step up when he has an off day. The stats sheet showing 36 possies for Sam challenges this as harsh, but the key absence was his customary laser-like accuracy with him going at 61% efficiency.
With him not setting up play, others struggled and were exposed.
The other standout was the key role Isaac Smith plays in our setup. With him being relatively quiet, the absence of his usual impact was telling.
The game showcased us at our worst, but out of the malaise, Will Langford and Billy Hartung stood tall.
The Kamikaze like Langford gave glimpses of his exploits from 2014 after struggling in 2015. He looks set to re-emerge in 2016.
Billy Hartung also gained respect for leading the fightback in the third and showing he is worthy of a place in our best 22, even when all are available.
The Road Ahead/ Changes
A Grand Final replay at the MCG against a West Coast team that looked very impressive in shellacking Brissy.
A perfect chance to dismiss the round 1 loss as a mere aberration.
Sadly, Luke Hodge will be missing with a suspected broken arm with hopefully Liam Shiels coming in as his replacement. If Shiels is not available, Daniel Howe.
The West Coast forward line smacks of key position quality meaning we need a key back in Kaiden Brand to replace Litherland.
Lastly, James Sicily out, for either Danial Howe if Shiels comes up or Blake Hardwick if Shiels is still absent