Hawthorn’s well-documented curse against Geelong has continued, with last year’s grand finalists going down to the Cats by seven points in an up-and-down match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground this afternoon.
Much has been spoken about the Hawks’ poor record against the Cats, whom they have not beaten since winning the 2008 AFL grand final. Today’s loss is the Hawks’ tenth straight loss against the blue hoops, who seem to enjoy playing Hawthorn more than any other team.
And for the first half of this match it seemed as if the drought would end, but whatever Chris Scott said to the Geelong boys at half-time seemed to work in the Cats’ favour as they would shut Hawthorn out of the contest in the second half.
Goal to Jordan Lewis, Luke Breust and Brent Guerra had the Hawks up by fifteen points before the Cats registered their first goal through Billie Smedts at the 24th minute mark. But a late goal to David Hale would see the Hawks enter the quarter-time break 16 points ahead.
Lance Franklin booted his first major of the afternoon to kick-start the second quarter, following which Paul Chapman, who famously remarked that “Geelong will never lose to Hawthorn again” after the 2008 grand final, and James Podsiadly, majored for the Cats to reduce their deficit to eleven points.
Three more goals to the Hawks, through Cyril Rioli, Franklin and Isaac Smith, saw the Hawks out to a five-goal lead and it seemed that they would dominate the rest from that point on. But the Cats would not relent, and two goals to Tom Hawkins and Travis Varcoe would haul the Cats back to within 20 points at half-time.
If there was any hope for Cats fans to this point, then they need not look back to as far as the corresponding match last year. On that occasion, the Cats won by two points after trailing by a similar margin at half-time.
A run of four goals to start the second half would see the Cats hit the front at the 18th minute mark of the third quarter, and from there they would not lose the lead.
A goal to Shane Savage would end a run of six consecutive Geelong goals dating back to late in the second quarter, and bring the Hawks back to within a point, but that would be as close as they would get for the rest of the match.
Another goal to Andrew Mackie would restore Geelong’s seven-point advantage, but the scene would be set for a thrilling final quarter when Jarryd Roughead booted Hawthorn’s 10th major to reduce the three-quarter-time deficit to two points.
Geelong would dominate the final quarter, booting three majors within fifteen minutes to see the side out to what appeared to be a match-winning 21-point lead. But there was still hope for the Hawks, whose replies through Luke Breust and Shave Savage brought the team back to within eight points with less than five minutes remaining.
The match was still there to be won, and in the final minute, it all rested on a Breust shot for goal with less than a minute left on the clock.
Goal, and the Hawks would be back to within two points. Miss, and the Cats win against Hawthorn again. Unfortunately, Breust’s shot did not make the target, and the Hawks ended up losing for the tenth straight time to Geelong, this time by seven points, 12.14 (86) to 13.15 (93).
Again, the Hawks just weren’t good enough for long enough. And this is another of those matches in which they dominated for short periods, but still end up losing. Last year’s round 19 match against the Cats and last year’s grand final tell the story. And again, Geelong were deadly with the ball, especially in the second half.
For Geelong, any fears that the team would further decline this season may have been exaggerated for now, as they still remain a champion team despite the gradual departures of its established players such as Matthew Scarlett, Cameron Ling, Cameron Mooney and Gary Ablett, among others.
They still have the Midas touch when they play Hawthorn and their second half revival is a strong indication of that.
It doesn’t get any tougher for the Hawks this coming Sunday, as they travel to Perth to face the West Coast Eagles, who themselves are coming off a damaging loss to the Dockers in the Western Derby last week. The Cats, meanwhile, have the Roos at Etihad Stadium earlier in the day.