Friday, June 2, 2017

View from the Outer, Round 11, Port Adelaide versus Hawthorn

Looking at the big picture, the Hawks’ harrowing performance this week against Port Adelaide was short term pain for long term gain. It seems evident that Hawthorn’s humiliation woes will continue until Alastair Clarkson starts embracing the ‘catastrophic changes’ to which he alluded earlier in the season.
Chief to Hawthorn’s woes is the obsolete nature of their uncontested game plan. This was exposed last year by teams who married a heavy emphasis on contested football with run and gun two-way running. Port epitomised this on Thursday night, smashing us in contested football 163 to 125 and scything us with their spread and outside run. On the rare occasion we did win the pill their relentless pressure exposed our suspect foot skills while rendering our forward line mute. Their selfless running to position to set their zones always left our attackers isolated in duels with two or three zoning defenders after which they killed us with their lethal rebound out of defence. The midfield is the crux of the issue, with a lack of ball winners inside, an absence of gut running with associated outside run and a high deficit in skills. Shaun Burgoyne turned back the clock last week against Sydney but was obliterated by the depth of quality in the Port midfield. To be frank, it epitomised our issues when we still rely on a 34 year old in the twilight of his career to be a game changer in a pivotal area of the ground. Injuries to youngsters Kieran Lovell and Jonathan O’Rourke along with the time it’s taking Jaeger O’Meara to fully recover from a long term injury haven’t helped, but a heavy emphasis needs to be on identifying targets through trade or free agency to redress this glaring weakness. There was every reason to excuse the struggles of the defence and some individuals in the wake of the onslaught but there is always a certain clarity found in crisis. While Ryan Burton underlined his ascent to superstardom and Taylor Duryea had his best game for the club since his stellar 2015 finals series by keeping Port star Robbie Gray quiet, both Josh Gibson and Kaiden Brand were badly exposed. The Club needs to tap Gibson on the shoulder and tell him to retire during the break as there is no valid reason for him to continue playing. If he does go on, it will stifle the progress of the new age as it will prevent us from gaining clarity over the merits of both Brand and Kurt Heatherley in defence and whether they are worth persisting with in 2018 and beyond. Both players need to be included in the team from now on, with wins an irrelevant factor. The focus from now has to solely be on the Club’s future by playing these youngsters, surrounded by the experience of Luke Hodge, Grant Birchall and Shaun Burgoyne. If they are found wanting, the club needs to do everything in its power to coax Stephen May from the GCS as a long term answer to partner with James Frawley in defence. Tough decisions need to be made on a few fan favourites to bring in some much needed early draft picks or be part of packages to bring in future talents from rival clubs. Josh Kelly from GWS needs to be a priority, though this might be fanciful with us lacking the currency in picks or players to facilitate the trade. Rather than feel depressed fellow Hawkers, let’s embrace this line from our team song: “Riding the bumps with a grin (at Hawthorn)”.

2 comments:

  1. Always well written articles Tim. And always riding the bump wuth a grin mate.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words , James

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