AFL: Remember what happened when these guys met last year? Well, it was on even before the ball had even been bounced.
HAWTHORN couldn’t miss when it mattered; North Melbourne couldn’t convert when it simply had to; and that proved the difference in a fiery and sometimes spiteful encounter at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
In a remarkable Friday night clash with incidents aplenty, and enough physicality to keep the match review panel busy for the rest of the weekend, the Hawks withstood the aggressive but ultimately wasteful Kangaroos to win yet another ‘close encounter of the Hawthorn kind’.
The difference at the end was only nine points, but the fact that the Hawks were able to make the most of their opportunities was the reason why they were able to grind out a win.
James Sicily kicked a career-high 5.0, slicing the middle of the goals when the Kangaroos missed so many chances at the other end.
And then, when North Melbourne was charging home towards what could have been a courageous win against the odds, the ball ended up in Paul Puopolo’s hands with dying seconds and he coolly slotted through the goal that sank the Kangaroos.
This might well have been North Melbourne’s ‘line in the sand’ moment — without the anarchy of what happened at the MCG between Hawthorn and Essendon a dozen years ago — but as brave and as desperate without as they were without the likes of Ben Cunnington, Andrew Swallow and Jarrad Waite, Brad Scott’s team could not deliver the knockout blow needed.
AFL: Luke McDonald has done the unthinkable, chasing down Hawk star Cyril Rioli and thwarting a likely goal.
The Roos had six more inside 50s, 26 more contested possessions, and six more scoring shots, but they just couldn’t slot the goals when required, especially in a wasteful first half of football.
They finished with 11.18 (84) to Hawthorn’s 14.9 (93).
Scott had forecast his team would display controlled aggression on Friday night, following last year’s encounter when Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis and the Hawks played the schoolyard bully with the Kangaroos.
Well, that was different on Friday night, and if Friday night’s match had been in the schoolyard, there would have been a lot of players heading to the principal’s office come Monday morning.
A spark was always going to make this game combustible, and acting Kangaroos captain Jack Ziebell provided it within the first three minutes. He crashed headhigh into an unsuspecting Sam Mitchell, which brought about immediate retaliation, setting the scene for what was to come.
It set the tone for the night ahead, but it also led to first goal of the game. Mitchell took advantage of a 50m penalty, and Isaac Smith’s goal was the cue for Michael Firrito and others to step in. And for a moment there was pushing and shoving, and jumper punches taking place at either end of the game.
Robbie Tarrant enhanced his claims for an All-Australian berth this season after another near flawless game, keeping Jack Gunston goalless for the first time since Round 4. Time and again, he marked on the rebound and he constantly repelled across half-back.
Jordan Lewis was tireless in the middle of the ground, and the longer the game went on, the better he became. Sicily provided a stunning target in attack and was razor-like in his accuracy. Cyril Rioli laid eight tackles and kicked two important goals in the second term as the Hawks tried to hang in there. Taylor Duryea kept Brent Harvey quiet until late in the game. Shaun Burgoyne and Grant Birchall were cool under pressure and Sam Mitchell battled against a tight and solid tag from Trent Dumont.
Daniel Wells was outstanding. He endured an injury and soreness to keep inspiring his team throughout the contest. Mason Wood played well, while Ben Brown clunked a number of important big marks, and Drew Petrie and Lindsay Thomas each finished with three goals.
But the Hawks always seem to find a way, and they did that again.
The Kangaroos, as brave as they were, will be rueing the missed opportunity, knowing it could come at a real cost, with an important interstate game against Adelaide to come on Thursday night.
HAWTHORN 14.9 (93)
NORTH MELBOURNE 11.18 (84)
Hawthorn: Lewis, Sicily, Birchall, Rioli, Duryea, Burgoyne, Mitchell
North Melbourne: Tarrant, Wells, Wood, Brown, Ziebell, Dumont, Dal Santo
Hawthorn: J Sicily 5 B Hartung 2 C Rioli 2 I Smith J Lewis L Breust P Puopolo T O’Brien.
North Melbourne: D Petrie 3 L Thomas 3 M Wood 2 B Brown B Harvey J Ziebell.
Umpires: Shaun Ryan, Robert Findlay, Mathew Nicholls, Craig Fleer.
Venue: Etihad Stadium.
3. Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne)
2. Jordan Lewis (Hawthorn)
1. James Sicily (Hawthorn)