AFL Rd 4, 2017: Cats crush Hawks in Easter Monday AFL | photos


2.7 5.12 9.14 20.14 (134)   


2.0 2.6 4.10 6.12 (48)  


Geelong: Hawkins 4, Menzel 3, Motlop 3, Parsons 2, Duncan 2, Murdoch, Thurlow, Henderson, Cockatoo, Menagola, Stewart. Hawthorn: Gunston 2, Sicily 2, Smith, Puopolo.   


Geelong - Duncan, Motlop, Tuohy, Dangerfield, Henderson, Guthrie. Hawthorn: Hodge, Smith, Mitchell

62,360 at MCG. 

The last time Hawthorn lost by a bigger margin to Geelong was in 1937

An hour before the first bounce, Geelong coach Chris Scott addressed his players on the edge of the centre-bounce circle, before they continued their warm-up. It was a rare public move, for such addresses are typically kept for behind closed doors.

Perhaps it was to sharpen the focus of his unbeaten side, coming up against their greatest modern rival at a time when the Hawks were winless and hurting.

Whatever was said, the Cats listened. They, too, would also be hurting once this contest was over but the four points - and an unbeaten start to the season - were safe after an 86-point win despite finishing with two fit men on the bench.

The last time Hawthorn lost by a bigger margin to Geelong was in 1937.

Playmaker Patrick Dangerfield was kneed in the ribs and kidney region by Jarryd Roughead in a marking contest in the first term and lacked his usual zest from that point. He was assessed and bravely returned to the fray, even declaring everything was "all sweet" at half-time despite being in obvious pain.

He would finish with 27 disposals but the dash he had in this corresponding fixture of a year earlier wasn't there.

Tom Ruggles was crunched when he ran into a Josh Gibson shepherd in the second term. In some ways, it was like an old-fashioned shirt-front. Where Gibson could face scrutiny from the match-review panel is through the accidental head-knock, which left the young Cat with concussion. He did not return to the field in the second half.

Midfielder Sam Menegola may also face some pain from the match review panel, after he was reported for a dangerous, slinging tackle on Luke Hodge late in the third term. Fortunately for Menegola, Hodge got up and played on.

For the Hawks, the hurt of an 0-4 start to the season - and successive 10-goal defeats for the first time since 2006 - was undeniable. Alastair Clarkson had pointed to his side making the finals in 2010 despite a 1-6 start but the predicament this new-look side is in is different. No team has made the finals from a 0-4 start since the top-eight system began in 1994.

The Hawks did fight in the third term, certainly more than was the case against the Gold Coast Suns a week earlier.

Trailing by four goals at half-time, and realising their season was on the line, the Hawks' tackling pressure early in the third term troubled the Cats, and helped to open up the contest.

James Sicily, a late inclusion for Ty Vickery, came alive inside attacking 50, and prompted Harry Taylor to be switched from attack to defence. Taylor had opportunities to goal in the first half but he appears so much more comfortable as a defender.

Jarryd Roughead tries to break free of Cat Brandan Parfitt's tackle. Photo: Getty Images

Jarryd Roughead tries to break free of Cat Brandan Parfitt's tackle. Photo: Getty Images

The Hawks would have an 8-1 advantage in clearances by midway through the term - reversing a 20-12 deficit at the main break - but they couldn't convert where it counted.

The Cats then took charge. Tom Hawkins, always a threat, won a free kick and converted, Daniel Menzel followed up within minutes and when James Parsons' long bomb sailed through - the first goal of his two-game career - the Cats had this in the bag despite their wayward efforts in front of goal in the first half.

Parsons' memories of this day is likely to be soured after he was reported for for a raised elbow which caught Hodge flush on the jaw early in the final term.

The Cats would continue to flourish in the final term with 11 goals, their best term ever against the Hawks confirming the demise of the once-great dynasty.

What was noticeable was the last of impact several of the Hawks' premierships heroes exerted. Skipper Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli, Jack Gunston, Luke Breust and Paul Puopolo were largely non-factors. Will Langford briefly got moving in the third term. Billy Hartung, a man the Hawks needed to lift with Brad Hill moving on, is not consistent.

Hodge was superb. He had 12 touches in the first term and 35 for the match but he needed more support.

The Hawks' disposal efficiency was again an issue, having dropped to tenth in the league before this clash, while they were again smacked in contested possessions.

On a day when Joel Selwood and Dangerfield had reasonably quiet afternoons, the Cats found drive in other areas.

Mitch Duncan, now one of the Cats' blue-chip midfielders, and a maturing Steve Motlop provided run all day. Motlop's 33 touches would be an equal career high. He was sledged by the Hawks in this corresponding clash two years ago for a late-night drinking session and was suspended for a week. This time, he would have a day to remember. 

Former Blues Lachie Henderson and Zach Tuohy intercepted forward thrusts, and also counter-attacked with aplomb. Tuohy's run-down from behind of Isaac Smith in the third term, stopping an almost certain goal from about 40m, highlighted his commitment.

For the Hawks, there is much to debate from here. Is their next generation of talent ready to help carry what is a rebuilding side? The absence of Jaeger O'Meara hurt, although he was barely sighted against the Suns last week. 

The Cats are a legitimate premiership threat and have weapons across all lines. Certainly in the short term, this once great rivalry between the Hawks and Cats - the latter with three straight wins - appears to be a one-way street.

Gippsland Senior
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