Sunday, May 28, 2017

View from the Outer, Round 10, Sydney versus Hawthorn

Shaun Burgoyne’s vintage performance in the midfield was the impetus for Hawthorn’s upset win over Sydney on Friday night, with the Indigenous Round a fitting setting for the superstar to wind back the clock. The choice to axe Will Langford would have angered many of the Hawk’s faithful who respect him for his consistent and honest efforts, but this decision by the selection panel proved to be correct. It redressed the existing imbalance in the midfield by adding another attacking entity into the mix. Having similar defensive types in Langford and Shiels both operating in the midfield limited its effectiveness. It was expected that one of Langford or Shiels would tag Swans’ captain Josh Kennedy, but pitting Burgoyne in a head to head dual was decisive in the 6-point win for the Hawks. Burgoyne’s inclusion in the midfield relieved some of the unfair burden that first year recruit Tom Mitchell has felt throughout 2017. It also allowed Liam Shiels to play his best game of the season in a freer attacking role. Tactics aside, this win was one of the more satisfying I have witnessed in the nearly 50 years I have followed the club. After the insipid display against the Pies last week, few gave the Hawks a chance to even challenge, let alone defeat the Swans who have looked to be on the rise, especially given Hawthorn’s line up was missing many key players and included two debutantes. It was comical listening to the Channel 7 commentary bemoan the ‘undermanned Sydney line up’ and thinking: Cyril Rioli....Ben Stratton.....Jonathan Ceglar....Grant Birchall....James Frawley....Jaeger O’Meara... The intent and commitment of all 22 was evident from the first siren and was married with some rarely seen resolve and composure; two qualities that have been so lacking throughout the disappointing 2017 campaign. It allowed the team to face up to many uprisings from Sydney and knock them back down in decisive momentum shifts. Crucially the Hawks led at the half time break, despite a surge by Sydney during the 2nd quarter where the Swans reduced the margin to 4 points. Hawthorn, however, steeled their resolve and kicked 3 further goals late in the term to extend the margin back out to 21 points. The Swans took an 8 point lead in the last quarter however the Hawks fought back with goals from outside 50 from both Shaun Burgoyne and Jarryd Roughead which sealed the win. The old firm of Luke Hodge and Josh Gibson were crucial in commandeering a vastly inexperienced defence. Hodge, playing a loose man in defence role was superb and Gibson was so clever in controlling Buddy Franklin from having a decisive say in this contest. Franklin might have kicked 5, but if not for how wily Gibson was in playing him that figure could have easily been doubled. Gibson’s inner knowledge of Buddy was so evident, never giving him the opportunity to turn him around and holding sway in the majority of contested duals. Ryan Burton once more underlined why he should be a Monty for this year’s Rising Star Award. Circumstance has dictated he play in defence this year where he has excelled but in time one can see him developing into a dominant big midfielder. Brendan Whitecross is a figure that seems contrary to this age where there is such an emphasis on elite qualities over all round solidness. No matter how revolutionary the game gets, the value of a ‘footballer’s footballer’ like Whitecross will never cease. Debut Watch: James Cousins – He had 14 possessions and kicked a goal, which was a good first outing. The goal was the stand out, kicked on his non preferred left foot which shows he is a capable two sided player whilst too many are lacking in this regard. He lacks the maturity in body as yet to be a regular but shows with his natural ball winning that he has every chance to make it. Dallas Willsmore – He was largely anonymous with only 9 disposals and struggled with the increased pace of the AFL but is worth persisting with. The Hawks were truly heroic and exuded grim defiance in refusing to accept anything but victory. This fight back will prove to be a building block for a new age.

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