Updated: Mar 22
Image source: Flickred
Geelong has held on for an entertaining 23-point victory over perennial rivals Hawthorn in their annual Easter Monday clash.
In front of over 66 thousand eager fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Geelong surged to a strong lead through the middle of the high-scoring match and held off a desperate last quarter surge from Hawthorn to come out victorious.
Hawthorn captain Ben Stratton was a late withdrawal for the match and the Cats resultantly found it easy to score all day with nine different players hitting the scoreboard. The Hawks’ early dominance was cancelled out by two late first quarter goals by Geelong’s Gary Rohan, which included a set shot goal after the quarter-time siren.
Despite a Paul Puopolo dribble goal in the opening minute of the second quarter, Geelong settled thanks to Gary Ablett’s presence and never looked back after establishing a 17-point lead at half-time. Stretching the lead to 36 points thanks to some powerful goals from Geelong ruckman Rhys Stanley, Hawthorn could only whittle the lead down to 16 points with 7 minutes remaining before Tom Hawkins kicked a final goal for Geelong to finish the game.
Geelong’s Tim Kelly was massive in the midfield, winning 29 disposals and kicking two splendid goals to help Joel Selwood (32 disposals) and Patrick Dangerfield (28 disposals) level the clearances battle despite Hawthorn’s Ben McEvoy dominating the ruck.
The win was highlighted by Ablett’s heroics up forward, as he quelled intense booing from the crowd with a mark of the year contender in the goal square and a second dribbling goal minutes later. Ablett finished with three goals while ex-Sydney forward Rohan revelled in Stratton’s late withdrawal booting four.
Ricky Henderson was Hawthorn’s best, winning 33 touches and kicking two goals, including a mesmerising snap from the pocket in the last quarter that reduced Geelong’s lead to only three goals. James Sicily was important, holding Hawkins to one goal, while James Worpel and Jaeger O’Meara were both solid in the midfield.
Hawthorn’s David Mirra suffered an injury to his left knee, while McEvoy hurt his hip.
Both will be assessed throughout the week. Geelong’s Brandan Parfitt faces a stint on the sidelines after suffering a quad injury early in the match. Hawkins may also face some match review scrutiny after an elbow to the back of Sicily off the ball.
The win returned Geelong to the top of the ladder, while Hawthorn has fallen to 13th position and face a fight to surge up.
Geelong enter a mouth-watering clash with West Coast at GMHBA Stadium next week as favourites, while Hawthorn will be looking to return to the winners’ list against Carlton in Tasmania next Sunday.
HAWTHORN 4.2 7.7 10.10 13.12 (90)
GEELONG 4.3 10.6 15.10 17.11 (113)
Hawthorn: Puopolo 2, Roughead 2, McEvoy 2, Henderson 2, Lewis, Cousins, Smith, Worpel, O'Meara
Geelong: Rohan 4, Ablett 3, Kelly 2, Dangerfield 2, Stanley 2, Dahlhaus, Taylor, Miers, Hawkins
Hawthorn: Henderson, McEvoy, Sicily, Worpel, O'Meara,
Geelong: Kelly, Selwood, Rohan, Ablett, Dangerfield, Myers
Hawthorn: Stratton (concussion) replaced in selected side by Mirra, Mirra (left knee), McEvoy (hip)
Geelong: Parfitt (quad)
Umpires: Margetts, Gavine, McInerney
Official crowd: 66,347 at the MCG