Saturday, April 1, 2017

View from the Outer (M7), Round 2, Hawthorn versus Adelaide

''Fuck that!" These were the words a very frustrated Alastair Clarkson was caught on camera saying during the third quarter in response to another skill error. The main theme of Hawthorn's 24 point loss to the Adelaide Crows was its first-rate endeavour and effort being undermined by 2nd rate execution. Clarko set the team up for success, implementing a “Pagan’s Paddock” structure however poor execution ruined its chances. Initially this structure bottled up the Crows’ brilliant running off the ball whilst offering protection to our very exploitable lack of outside run. In the games’ early stages this tactic worked a treat, with the Hawks flooding back behind the ball and winning possession. This allowed them to bomb into an empty 50 and the players were able to run onto or hit up targets lost in traffic when sprinting into the forward line. The game became a contested slugfest with Hawthorn matching Adelaide in contested ball, winning 150 a piece but this paled into insignificance compared to the Crows’ skill and decision making when in possession. Key midfielders Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O'Meara might have won 74 possessions between them, but few were definitive as opposed to some of the Crows on-ball brigade. Even more damning was how badly we were slaughtered in the contested marking stakes, 22 to 6, bringing into clear focus the weaknesses in the ruck and defence. The Crows lost a key part of their set up, when 10 minutes into the game key forward and 2nd ruck Josh Jenkins went down. This offered the perfect opportunity for the Hawks ruck duo of Ben McEvoy and Ty Vickery to assume control by double teaming and grinding the Crows only remaining ruckman Sam Jacobs into the turf. However Jacobs smashed both, in a best on ground display, exposing how fragile the Hawks’ rucks are without the third man up in support. Our defence was a shambles, as characterised by 7 goals embarrassingly coming from the Crows taking contested marks 20 metres out from goal. The lowlight a virtual midget in Rory Sloane goaling after taking a contested mark amongst three Hawks. Once more Josh Gibson was a disappointment, with him getting lost in a more traditional marking role and removed from the zone off role that saw him rise to superstardom while becoming a cornerstone of the Hawk's success. With the highest respect to a legend of the club, Gibbo should be dropped, or to spare his embarrassment, should retire on receiving his life membership this week. James Frawley wasn't much better. He was very capable in one on one contests as an old style spoiling back but deeply flawed in possession. It seems very apparent the opposition teams have put a focus on this by forcing Frawley to kick more, with the Hawks suffering as a result. Frawley highlights how diminished our foot skills have become. They are a far cry from a few years back when we had as many as a dozen elite kicks who used to conceal the few that were suspect. Now it is a stretch to find any elite kicks, making the suspect ones stand out. Shaun Burgoyne and Ben Stratton were also average. It was a sad sight for all Hawks fans to see Burgoyne have his pants pulled down in a pivotal one on one duel on the wing that showed Father Time is lurking in his shadow. The final nail in the Hawks’ coffin was injuries to midfield duo Liam Shiels and Isaac Smith. This allowed the Crows runners to free themselves from the tactics so effective in negating them. This became a knockout blow in the match. Also, in other injury woes, Grant Birchall is having scans today for a suspected broken jaw after he suffered a knock to his head during the first quarter. He bravely played out the game but this must have had an effect on his performance throughout the last three quarters of the game. All in all, it has been a disappointing start to the 2017 season. Let’s hope we can redress some of these issues before next week’s game against the Gold Coast Suns. PS- It has been confirmed Grant Birchall will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw

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