Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Game of the Year

Last night I attended the much anticipated match between top of the ladder and reigning Premiers Geelong, and Hawthorn...with 86,000 other people, at the MCG, for a cracking game!

Having disappeared after half time last week against the Saints, and getting a pasting, and after Geelong thrashing the second placed Bulldogs with a 10 goal display in the last half, last week, there was potential for a horror story for the Hawks in the big Round 17 clash. Add to that a nervous wait to see if Hodge would play, given the imminent arrival of his first child, plus rumours that Mitchell was out floating around, it was a nervous wait.

Coming off a full on, crazy work week, and feeling the nerves of a big game, I met Rick and Melissa at Transport, to watch them have a few settling beers - this DVT sobriety is already very, very mean! Walking down to the 'G, the buzz was about the crowd.

Accounting for Hodge and Mitchell as the brown and yellow ran out onto the ground, we sat in our allocated seats, where Mum was, having arrived on one of an 8 bus convoy from Ballarat. Looking around the awesome stadium, all areas but a section of MCC looked full - impressive.

The first quarter was a wrestle, with good signs and bad from our Hawks, but a three goal deficit as the siren went not so good. Brown placed in the forward line seemed such a waste, and there was a point where he returned to this unfamiliar position for him from a bench rotation, longing looking towards the line of defence he usually owns.

Inaccurate kicking, our disposals were hit and miss too often....but we rattled the Premiers, and I think, showed ourselves what we were capable of. The Cats made errors under Hawk pressure that they were unaccustomed to, despite our sticking tackle rate still too low for liking. After half time, the Hawks came out and played the Geelong game, with lightening handpasses and speed all over the ground. Distinctly different game plans of the two teams, with the Hawks dominating the corridor, and the Cats seemingly everywhere else. The tactic of the timed running man off the bench of Geelong was a sneaky, but very effective one - I don't think there was a man off their bench who didn't come on in the middle of a passage of play, seemingly out of nowhere!

Hawks hit the front in the first goal of the last quarter, and the intensity was electric. But several errors under pressure, and Cats got back and away to a lead just out of reach in the end for the Hawks. 11 points when the siren went, but such a valiant display of the Hawk potential. The crowd walked away relieved, or very very proud of the challenge to the top side.

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