BOTP: A Big Big Sound… & Scare

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In a first for the classic game review series, we have a double-up with the Hawks taking on Greater Western Sydney for the second time this year. 

The first edition this year was about the snow game in Canberra which was a memorable occasion for the weather, but I have been able to find another ripper!

Despite the short history between the Giants and the Hawks, the closest victory the Hawks had over the Giants was in a premiership year in 2014. 

It was Round 11 and the story of the Hawks year was the absolute carnage with injury and illness tearing apart the main core of the team. 

Coming into the game, Hawthorn was missing future 2014 premiership players Jordan Lewis, Sam Mitchell, Josh Gibson, Ben McEvoy, Brian Lake, Ben Stratton, Matt Spangher and Cyril Rioli as well as coach Alistair Clarkson with illness.

Despite the young and inexperienced side, the Giants were sitting 17th on the ladder with only two wins for the season and the national media was expecting a bloodbath. 

The first quarter didn’t go to plan, with the young Giants sniffing an upset with the depleted Hawks and using the wet and windy conditions to make the game a slog.

Brendon Bolton the coach of the Hawks talks to his players during the round 11 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Greater Western Sydney...
Brendon Bolton the coach of the Hawks talks to his players during the round 11 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Greater Western Sydney…

After the Hawks kicked the first goal within the first 70 seconds of the game, the Giants kicked four of the next five and extended the lead to 13 points before Jarryd Roughead kicked a late goal to bring the margin back to six and there was a game on at the G!

The second quarter was the Hawks trying to flex their muscles, kicking four of the six goals, but the pesky Giants hung around like a bad smell. 

Brad Sewell kicked a goal from one of the most fantastic designed third man-up throw-in plays, with Will Langford hitting it straight to Shaun Burgoyne who handballed to Sewell.

Jack Gunston was industrious, kicking a goal himself and directly setting up his great-mate Luke Breust for a goal. 

At half-time, the Hawks went in with a seven-point lead and despite the surprise at the tightness of the tussle, the week’s events should have indicated this.

Jacob Townsend of the Giants and Luke Hodge of the Hawks push each other during the round 11 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Greater...
Jacob Townsend of the Giants and Luke Hodge of the Hawks push each other during the round 11 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Greater…

This was the first game the Hawks played without head coach Alistair Clarkson after being admitted to hospital with Guillain-Barre syndrome. 

Assistant coach Brendan Bolton was trusted with the keys to the Ferrari and despite being Clarko’s right-hand man since 2009, there were always going to be teething issues.

After half-time, the slog continued with the young Giants smelling blood in the water, with nine total goals being kicked for the term despite the wet weather. 

Five of those seven went to the Giants, extending a lead to 11 points before Jack Gunston and Isaac Smith managed to snatch the lead back at the final break. 

With three intense quarters of footy in the books, only one point separated the two teams and despite the discrepancy of 13 spots on the ladder, this was a quality game.

Brad Sewell of the Hawks is congratulated by team mates after kicking a goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Greater...
Brad Sewell of the Hawks is congratulated by team mates after kicking a goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Greater Western Sydney Giants

The free-flowing scoring slowed down in the fourth quarter, with the fatigue of the conditions kicking in, but the quality shone through.

Jarryd Roughead, Isaac Smith and Jack Gunston kicked important fourth-quarter goals but the Hawks still couldn’t find a way to rid themselves of the hungry Giants.

Enter Jonathon Simpkin!

The 2013 premiership player laid a massive tackle with only one minute left, stopping the Giants from having one last counterattack and levelling the scores. 

This tackle signified the game, with some of the Hawks’ role players having big moments in the absence of some of the upcoming premiership heroes. 

Ryan Schoenmakers of the Hawks handballs whilst being tackled by Jeremy Cameron of the Giants during the round 11 AFL match between the Hawthorn...
Ryan Schoenmakers of the Hawks handballs whilst being tackled by Jeremy Cameron of the Giants | Getty Images

Simpkin had 22 disposals and that game-saving tackle, Kyle Cheney played a crucial role down back without Gibson, Lake and Stratton and Jonathon Cegler handled the ruck duties without Ben McEvoy. 

The final siren sounded and the narrative was that the Hawks got out of jail, with the final scores reading.

Hawthorn: 14.10.94

GWS: 13.9.87

Despite mentioning some of the unsung role players, some of the big guns came to play and dominated the game for the Hawks.

Isaac Smith was the standout, having 23 disposals and kicking four goals from a wing, Jack Gunston was a presence up forward kicking four goals straight and captain Luke Hodge led the team with 26 disposals. 

I remember feeling genuine relief when watching this game live and it was a game fans quickly wanted to forget considering our dominance and the Giants’ ladder position.

But the power of hindsight is fantastic and considering the chaos around the club at the time, this is a game that should be appreciated and remembered.

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