GEELONG SHOOT TO TOP OF AFL LADDER
WITH WIN OVER HAWTHORN
AFL 2014 ROUND 5 GEELONG CATS V HAWTHORN HAWKS 80,222 packed the MCG for the Easter Monday classic to see Geelong defeat Hawthorn by 19 points. While not quite the titanic match we've seen in the past it was certainly an arm wrestle, the Cats in front for most of the match but briefly losing it to the Hawks early in the final quarter before powering away thanks to goals from Tom Hawkins. Hawkins went on to bag five for the day cementing his position as arguably the best key forward in the game on 2014 form.
Steve Johnson had friend and foe tearing their hair out alike with some of his moves but was pretty much Geelong's best, finishing with three goals. Jimmy Bartel and Corey Enright played vintage games, while Hamish McIntosh is relishing his second life, named in Geelong's best once more.
Geelong should have taken a two goal lead into quarter time as McIntosh marked more or less on the goal square, but managed to hit the post. He made up for it though in the second quarter booting a goal from outside the 50m arc. The Cats took a one goal lead into half time, each side scoring nine behinds to that point in a match that was tight but didn't necessarily have the finishing from either side.
Three goals apiece in the third term, Geelong again seemingly on top but not being reflected on the scoreboard in terms of goals scored, outscoring the Hawks by two points for the quarter. Hawkins kicked his third goal and Enright his first, Jordan Murdoch the other goalkicker.
Hawks sub Mitch Hallahan came on after three quarter time, as did his opposite number (both wearing number 38) Jackson Sherringham, and made quite the impact. Hallahan was in contests resulting in at least two of Hawthorn's final term goals, one of them off his own boot. Andrew Mackie came off for Sherringham, on paper a surprising choice given his importance in the backline but he is believed to be under an injury cloud with a hamstring complaint.
Luke Breust, who some Hawthorn fans complain is booed by Geelong supports not realising it's their own fans, kicked the opening goal of the final quarter to get his side up; this was followed by a behind by the very quiet Cyril Rioli and then a goal by Jack Gunstan to give the Hawks a lead and seemingly the match momentum.
But the Cats weren't done yet, not by a long shot. Hawkins, wearing emergency Jack Walker's relatively tight-fitting number 34 jumper, was manned up all day by Kyle Cheney and as KRock kept saying had 10cm and 15kilos on the defender - and marked strongly in a pocket on a fair angle 15m out. He snapped the set shot through on his left foot to put the Cats back in front.
Hawthorn levelled the scores and then got a narrow lead back thanks to behinds but from then on it was just about all Geelong. Murdoch confidently booted the Cats back in front from 40m out while a minute or so later it was Hawkins again in that skin tight number 34 jumper with a chest mark and goal, his fourth, to blow out the lead to eleven points. The Cats then controlled the ball and flow of the game for another few minutes before that man Hawkins, who copped a fair bit of stick from Hawthorn fans we associated with in the pub before the game, again took a strong mark and converted for his fifth and final goal, the lead blowing out to 17 points.
Rioli, who had a dog of a game, received a free kick for off the ball contact from James Kelly 15m out and converted to peg the lead back to eleven points and give the Hawks a chance of victory. But it wasn't to be - the Cats with the next two goals, a second to Enright and third to Stevie J who missed a second shot at goal a minute later, Geelong's lead now 24 points.
Hallahan's goal, the final of the match, left the margin at 18 points when the final siren rang - Murdoch missing a set shot after the siren from just inside the 50m arc to make the final margin 19 points.
After all that, Geelong remain the only undefeated side in the competition and play Port Adelaide next Sunday at the Adelaide Oval while the Hawks come back to the MCG to face the Tigers.
In a footnote, the AFL's variable pricing regime took a hit as officials inexplicably threw open the gates to members from either side, who instead of having to pre-purchase a ticket as thousands had, were simply allowed to scan their barcodes to gain entry - a win for commonsense but still a farce.
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3.5, 6.9, 9.14, 15.16 (106) DEFEATED
FIELD: Chamberlain, Meredith, Ryan EM:
TIP: Cats by 3 points
CROWD: 80,222 at Melbourne Cricket Ground