Greater Western Sydney has fallen back to reality after their impressive debut last week, falling to a weakened Hawthorn side by 74 points.
Despite remaining competitive for the first term, the Giants’ inexperience and lack of strong bodies proved too much to overcome as the Hawks comfortably controlled the match.
Although Hawthorn was missing stars Lance Franklin, Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell and Cyril Rioli, the strength and height of the Hawks proved too much to handle for a young Giants outfit.
The Hawks’ run and carry from the back half was causing all sorts of problems for GWS, with Clinton Young in particular creating havoc off the back flank with 23 disposals.
Grant Birchall joined Young in that role and it seems that the play of these two will be key to the Hawks’ fortunes in 2012. Add the potential of Matt Suckling and Hawthorn appears to have a devastating counter-attack at their disposal.
The match was so one-sided the only real entertainment in the second half came from the exploits of Israel Folau, with the former NRL star showing several signs of being able to adapt to the rigours of the AFL. Folau took several strong marks and had three scoring shots, managing to convert one for his first major in the competition.
Although the play of expected contributors Luke Hodge, Shaun Burgoyne and Young set up the victory, the Hawks will be especially pleased with the form of some of its younger brigade.
Isaac Smith, Bradley Hill, Ryan Schoenmakers, Jarrad Boumann and Jack Gunston all impressed with skilful passages of play, with Smith in particular influencing the contest all over the ground.
Hawthorn clearly showed why they are one of the favourites for both the NAB Cup and the AFL Premiership, having 11 individual goal kickers – despite missing proven match winners in Coleman Medallist Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and Rioli.
Not much can be said of the opposition however, but there is a lot that GWS coach Kevin Sheedy can take solace from.
The form of Will Hoskin-Elliot and Stephen Coniglio proved that the hype over these two may be justified, with Coniglio racking up 25 possessions in a strong display.
The pick of the bunch however, is surely 18-year-old Devon Smith.
Smith found himself involved in the majority of the Giants’ positive play, finding plenty of the ball (27 touches) and moving it long and quickly wherever possible (19 kicks).
It appears the newcomers will face similar challenges as to what the Gold Coast Suns faced last year, with the pressures of a disciplined AFL zone proving too much for the immature bodies of the Giants.
Turnovers coming out of the Giants back half were costly, with several errors punished by a clearly superior Hawks outfit, but the performance from today will not worry Sheedy too much.
With several young stars impressing, and his side clearly hungry for the contest, it was only strength and experience that stopped GWS from creating much competition.
But these things will develop naturally as Sheedy surely knows, and it will not be long before his kids are ready to take the next step.
HAW 2.12.18 (108)
GWS 0.4.10 (34)
HAW: Osborne (SG), Schoenmakers (SG), Hale (3), Breust (2), Birchall, Bruce, Cheney, Gunston, Hill, Hodge, Smith
GWS: Wilson (2), Folau, Tomlinson
HAW: Hodge, Hale, Smith, Burgoyne, Young, Savage
GWS: Coniglio, Smith, Hoskin-Elliot, Palmer