BOTP: The Hawks From Snowy Canberra

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The classic game review is back for its fifth edition and it is an edition that has it’s own little twist.

If you have been a constant reader of this series, you will have noticed a few trends that have been common in the first four articles.

One, the Hawks are always the winner which is a no brainer, but the second is that it is usually a close game.

When looking back through the archives, GWS are not our richest rival and the pickings for close games were slim to none.

So, for this edition I have gone for a game that will live on in folklore for a different reason, that being the weather!

Changkuoth Jiath of the Hawks celebrates victory in the round 21 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Hawthorn Hawks at UNSW...
The Hawks get around the debutant in Changkuoth Jiath, who has become a fan favourite | Getty Images

It was Round  21 of 2019 and the Hawks who were out of the finals race traveled up to Canberra to face eventual Grand Finalist Greater Western Sydney.

The talk leading into this Friday night clash was all about the weather, with snow forecasted and halfway through the first quarter, the forecast came true.

It was an AFL first, with snow falling from the sky and it was fair to say the Hawks responded better to the adverse conditions, taking the opposition and weather head on.

Carrying a six point lead into the second quarter, the game got unsurprisingly sloppy, with ball handling seemingly impossible on the snowy Canberra turf.

But it was the Hawks, following the example of then coach Alistair Clarkson who was walking around in shorts, who got on with the task.

Second quarter goals to Tim O’Brien, Chad Wingard and Isaac Smith gave the Hawks a strong 13 point lead at half time, which counted for nearly triple considering the conditions.

The most interesting and ironic story from this game was the debutant wearing Brown and Gold, with a fresh faced Changkuoth Jiath making his AFL debut.

Spending the first six years of his life in Ethiopia, the snowy sky couldn’t have offered a more parallel experience, showing where he started to his present and future in the AFL.

The now fan favourite showed his skill, with 11 disposals on the night with some flashes of athletic brilliance we are so accustomed to today.

The second half was a genuine masterclass from the Hawks, firing on all cylinders and making the Giants look second rate at their adopted home.

Seven goals to zero in the second half, a complete dominance from the Brown and Gold and a sign that despite not being in the finals hunt, some awesome football was still in these Hawks.

It started with a Ricky Henderson launch from outside 50 just 30 seconds into the third quarter and ended with a pair of Mitch Lewis goals, continuing his hot run of form.

As the conditions got worse, the Hawks got better and the look on all players’ faces showed that they were genuinely enjoying their football.

Legendary commentator Bruce McAvaney labelled it a “masterclass” by Clarkson and said that GWS “lost a lot of respect” on the night, a true testament to the enormity of the win considering the clubs’ standing in the finals race.

Hawks players sing the club song after winning the round 21 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Hawthorn Hawks at UNSW...
The Hawks celebrate in a warm embrace after a chilly evening in the nation’s capital | Getty Images

The final scores ended up reading:

GWS: 4.5.29

Hawthorn: 13.7.85

Some of the Hawks best on the night were James Sicily with 33 disposals, James Worpel with 31 and Chad Wingard with 27 and a goal.

The goal kickers were well rounded, with Luke Breust, Mitch Lewis, Tim O’Brien and Paul Puopulo the multiple goal kickers on the night.

Although this season didn’t go to plan for the Hawks after a top 4 finish in 2018, this was a really fun period for me as a fan because it was a time where the list was enjoying playing football.

This game may not be the nail biting finish, or end to end shootout we are used to during this series, but the significance in AFL history will never be dimmed.

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