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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