Forget the Cats, the Hawks are the new dynasty

John Bushby Roar Rookie

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    Hawthorn players celebrate winning the 2008 Toyota AFL Grand Final between the Geelong Cats and the Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG. GSP images

    The Hawks won a sensational Grand Final in an impressive manner. The significance of the win and the manner in which it was achieved should not be underestimated when predictions are made of the Hawks short to medium future. Their role will be a dominant one.

    With a style of play built around the simple principle of attacking the ball at full pace, regardless of collateral damage, and seemingly oblivious to the mistakes that inevitably occur, the Hawks are not on the ground to be sociable.

    This style is the core strength of the team.

    Planted in its psyche, the team becomes a genuinely tough outfit, able to absorb physical and mental pressure as it obtains and retains ball possession at all costs.

    By starving the opposition of possession, it strangles their attack. This, in turn, provides a number of options to the Hawks coaching staff in adapting to a game’s ebbs and flows.

    This Hawks are a hungry team.

    One flag will not satisfy now that victory has been tasted. Comments out of their camp have emphasised that they have won a flag earlier than expected and that it is important to see it as the beginning of a successful era rather than the end of a journey.

    The flag is flying at Hawthorn because of the team’s hunger, enthusiasm, bravery and skill. Flair is the icing on the cake, rather than a vital ingredient.

    The youth and probable improvement of its skill level can keep this team involved at the end of September for three to four years, at least.

    Failure to be there will come from injury or loss of focus.

    So where to for the Cats?

    This wonderful team lost its mojo late in the season proper and did not regain it again.

    The Cats were seen as vulnerable and the Hawks entered the Grand Final with confidence that it could beat them.

    One wonders what the earlier demolition of the Cats by a young Magpies team had taken out of them. They had applied such close checking that it had robbed the Cats of space and time in which to use its superior foot and hand skills.

    Despite so many wins over the past two seasons, there are no assurances of the flag in 2009.

    The Cats have a number of key players who are, in terms of today’s football, aging: Harley (30), Milburn (31), Ottens (28), Mooney (29) and Enright (29).

    Scarlett at 29 is also a veteran, but is a champion who should be able to maintain his high standard longer than most others.

    He was fantastic on Saturday.

    The youngsters of the team should be measured against those of the Hawks.

    Stokes, Varcoe, and Taylor will need to inject life into the Cats because Rioli, Roughhead and Franklin surely will for the Hawks.

    The impending hiatus in successful draft picks may impact more on the aging Cats than the younger and rapidly improving Hawks.

    The next two years looks to be a last throw of the dice in this era for the mighty Geelong Cats.

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • October 1st 2008 @ 1:13pm
      kick to kick said | October 1st 2008 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

      I don’t think John Bushby can have actually watched the Grand Final. He writes ” starving the opposition of possession, [Hawthorn] strangles their attack”. Hawthorn deserved to win but this is not how they did it. They were thumped in the clearances and in midfield possession – embarrassingly so in the 2nd quarter . For most of the match Geelong were consistently harder at the ball and more skilful in close. Geelong had some 60 entries into the forward 50 – usually enough for a comfortable win. Hawthorn’s great coup was in their defensive formation, their pressure on the Geelong ball carrier and close checking of Geelong’s forwards, all of which hurried Geelong players into errors which either blew scoring opportunities or turned over the ball. It is to Hawthorn’s credit that after applying pressure they were able to strike back and win the game despite losing the midfield possession battle . They were admirably composed in taking advantage of their own more limited scoring opportunities. Hawthorn may well become a dynasty but they would do well not to believe overblown accounts of how they won in 2008.

    • October 1st 2008 @ 4:13pm
      sheek said | October 1st 2008 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

      Let me see…..

      I think last year they said no-one was likely to beat the Cats to the premiership for several years. Ditto Eagles after 2006; ditto Port after 2004; ditto Essendon after 2000 & 1993 & 1984-85.

      Is the assumption based on the grand final performance? Didn’t the Cats smash Port last year by a bigger margin? And didn’t the Cats hurt themselves with clumsy shots at goal this year? Short memories.

      Maybe the Hawks WILL dominate in 2009. Or it could be the Cats again. Or Bulldogs. Or someone else……….

    • October 1st 2008 @ 7:31pm
      Tony in Canberra said | October 1st 2008 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

      I agree with kick to kick – Geelong totally, totally outplayed Hawthorn for the first half and were harder at the ball than the Hawks all day. If they could have kicked straight, it would have been over with ten minutes left in the second quarter. The fact that the cats didn’t kick straight is the sole reason hawthorn stayed on their feet and in the game.

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