Monday, April 17, 2017

View from the Outer (M7), Round 4, Hawthorn versus Geelong

Any lingering doubts over whether or not the Hawk's empire had ended would have been quashed after their 86-point flogging at the hands of rivals Geelong yesterday. Hawthorn's tactics seemed reactive rather than the proactive nature of past efforts. The team's structure had a self defeatist theme with players sitting deep behind the ball from the first bounce in an attempt to suffocate Geelong's forward entries. They seemed like they were trying to lessen the blow of a heavy defeat as opposed to trying to win. Geelong's first half efforts were average which provided the Hawks a number of occasions where they were cast in neutral or advantageous situations, however they failed to grasp these key opportunities. Rather than be daring in the hope of striking a blow or a series of blows, the Hawks stuck to a theme of playing it safe which was evidenced by an endless display of sideways or backwards 20 metre kicks. This provided Geelong with a comfort zone of knowing that we'd eventually gift back any possible gains through poor decision making and dreadful skills. If the execution was appalling the effort was a glorious facade. In the games' infancy we looked up for the fight, led by the typical heroics of Luke Hodge. However the rest of the team failed to rise in the face of his inspirational leadership. Their lacklustre efforts only existed in short bursts and lacked any strength of conviction. The white flag of surrender was raised too quickly and too easily. The sad irony of Hodge's valiant display was not only did it show up the rest of the players, it also cast a light on the new leadership group. This game called for a definitive response from Captain Jarryd Roughead and his deputies Liam Shiels and Isaac Smith, however their limp displays were made all the more conspicuous. From the 23rd minute mark of the third quarter, Geelong piled on 14 goals to Hawthorn's 2, putting an exclamation mark on the Hawks' tepid display with no semblance of redemption to hold one's hat on. The depressing reality is that aside from Grant Birchall and Jaeger O'Meara, both omitted due to injury, these were our best 22 players playing, which puts a clear focus on the lack of quality and supporting depth throughout the team. This will become a telling factor with many of our veterans soon to retire and the lack of high draft pics coming Hawthorn's way. Unfortunately, there will be no influx of promising youth. Alastair Clarkson’s hand is now forced. He is compelled to make some tough decisions over the team's incumbents as well as gaining greater clarity over the true state of the club by playing the kids and ruling a line through those who are not at AFL level. His first selection decision needs to focus on Josh Gibson. He should be told to retire from the team to spare him the embarrassment of being dropped. If rumours are to be believed, Ben McEvoy wanted to retire at the end of last year but was talked into playing on as a result of Jonathan Ceglar’s knee injury. If this is true, nothing can be gained by persisting with him. The club should allow him to retire and turn to Marc Pittonet as its ruck option with Jack Fitzpatrick and Luke Surman upgraded from the rookie list in support. As for the youth, it needs to be governed by making discerning choices rather than selecting players out of hope. This game provided a clear example of this with the duo of Blake Hardwick and James Sicily adding value to the team and providing compelling evidence of why Clarko should persist with them, whereas Billy Hartung and Tim O'Brien again came up way short. Both of these players need to be cast aside and replaced with the likes of Kade Stewart, Daniel Howe, Dallas Willsmore and in particular Jono O'Rourke, who just played his first game back at Box Hill after a hamstring injury. As we look forward to next week’s game against the West Coast Eagles at the MCG, let us hope Sam Mitchell is fit to play so the Hawk's faithful can stand and applaud him out of appreciation for all the great memories he provided us with.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with bringing in some of the great younger players of the VFL, Clarko has no other option as if the selectors keep playing the same bunch I can't see things improving as they should throughout the year. And definitely let Sicilly prove his worth and not have him to & fro continuously .. if he's given the chance he will improve and be a great assest to our frontline.
    No need to comment on yesterdays efforts against the cats it's all in the above!
    Will be great to see Sammy next week after being shown the door and all for reasons we know about.
    #AlwaysHawthorn #StrongAsOne