The Geelong Cats have given the Hawthorn Hawks another thrashing, victorious by 86 points in a second-half landslide.
Hawthorn Hawks 48
Geelong Cats 134
The Hawthorn Hawks versus the Geelong Cats has become an Easter Monday fixture over the last decade, but this time, the Hawks look more vulnerable than they’ve been in a long, long time. Join The Roar for live scores and a running blog from 3:20pm (AEST).
After three consecutive premierships and an extended period in the upper echelons of the competition, the buck had to stop eventually for Hawthorn, but few predicted it would come so abruptly.
Just three weeks into the season, the doomsayers are already planning for the end of the Hawks’ era of dominance, with a trio of losses – the most recent an 86-point hammering at the hands of lowly Gold Coast – sending them plummeting to the bottom of the ladder.
Recruit Tom Mitchell has been excellent in midfield, while youngster Ryan Burton has also shown signs 2017 could be a breakout year, but precious few of their teammates have lived up to their lofty reputations.
The end of Josh Gibson’s glittering career looks imminent, the loss of champions Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis in midfield has hindered the productivity of Luke Breust and Isaac Smith, and former Richmond tall Ty Vickery has become a walking punchline for opposition fans.
A loss here would see the Hawks start the season with four consecutive losses, and from there, Alastair Clarkson can all but kiss goodbye to an eighth consecutive finals appearance.
Geelong haven’t started the year in top form either, but they’ve been good enough to get over the line in all three of their matches so far, and a victory here would set them up ideally for the rest of the season.
Much was made of the Patrick Dangerfield-Joel Selwood combination in the Cats’ midfield last season, and while others, notably Mitch Duncan, have lent support in the early rounds, narrow wins over North Melbourne and Melbourne have shown it’s still up to “Dangerwood” to get the job done when the going gets tough.
With Tom Lonergan and Lachie Henderson occupying the key defensive posts, Harry Taylor has been played predominantly up forward by coach Chris Scott, and while he still looks more at home across half-back, going up against a Hawks defence that has been constantly under siege in recent times could help the veteran build up some form in his new role.
Unusually for Easter Monday clashes, there is a clear favourite heading into this one thanks to the Hawks’ woeful form of late. Expect Luke Hodge and company to come out firing and make a statement early, but ultimately, the Cats’ class around the ground should get them over the line.
Geelong to go 4-0 by 22 points.
It’s a milestone match for Hawthorn ruckman Ben McEvoy, who will run out for his 150th career match, 91 of which were played with St Kilda, while Will Langford will celebrate game number 50.
Can the milestone men celebrate the occasion with an upset win? Or will it be “Dangerwood” again leading the way for the Cats?
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