MELBOURNE 3.3 3.5 5.11 6.13 (49)
HAWTHORN 2.6 8.12 10.18 15.25 (115)
A sloppy Hawthorn effort has still led to a cruisy 66 point victory against a flat Melbourne side on Friday night.
The Demons’ faithful will have no reason to be pleased at the outcome as the Hawks continually fumbled the ball, kicked terribly at goal and were generally wasteful with their opportunities.
After two rounds of more spirited performance by the young Demons, this was a harsh reality check by Hawthorn as Melbourne, after GWS’ first win, now sit dead last on the ladder.
Melbourne yet again finished with a sub-300 possession count (259 in this case) which is clearly unacceptable in the modern game.
Coach Mark Neeld made a fair point when asked about his constant assessment of contested possessions as the yardstick for the side, pointing out that the first and the third quarters, the only times when Melbourne were competitive, were the closest they came to getting even with the Hawks in the contested count.
In fact, the Demons looked set for a decent night on the park as they took a three point lead at quarter time. At that point in time the sheer weight of possessions they were conceding was bound to be the difference if it wasn’t rectified, but it was a solid start to what was otherwise a fairly dismal night.
Star Melbourne recruit Mitch Clark began the game in the middle and was used as a bit of an ace up the sleeve of Neeld for the match, playing forward, back and in the ruck at different points in the game.
Sadly for Clark, while still being one of Melbourne’s best, did not have the impact he was shaping up to have after the first quarter. Clark kicked three for the term and was all over Ryan Schoenmakers, who could not seem to keep up with the key forward.
Paul Puopolo kicked the first of the game for the Hawks, but they were then plagued by inaccuracy and did not take advantage of the opportunities they were afforded.
Although Melbourne were in front and held the lead at quarter-time, after Clark’s three goals Hawthorn completely obliterated Melbourne, kicking nine of their own before Melbourne registered another major on the scoreboard..
The lack of composure in front of the stick and Hawthorn’s dominance around the ground, winning the contest possessions, clearances and having nearly double the inside 50s, could easily have led to a victory of more than 100 points by the Hawks.
Mercifully for the Demons, they didn’t capitalise. The main culprit was again Lance Franklin, who kicked 3.7 for the game. As is often the case with ‘Buddy’, he did the impossible but missed the probable. Partner in crime Cyril Rioli couldn’t back up his scintillating six goal performance against St Kilda last weekend, bobbing up for a goal but being very quiet for most of the night.
With beautiful ball-users like Matt Suckling (23 kicks, six rebound 50s, one goal) and Clinton Young (11 kicks, two goals) putting their boots on show, the ball seemed to continually rebound into Hawthorn’s 50 from any Melbourne assault. Their kicking penetration and accuracy was a huge issue all night and without Clark up forward they didn’t seem to have a proper target.
Sadly for Melbourne, they couldn’t tag all of the likes of Jordan Lewis (26 disposals, 18 contested and a goal), Liam Shiels (24 disposals, six clearances), Brad Sewell (32 disposals and a goal) and Grant Birchall (29 disposals at 93% efficiency). They won the possession count by 165 in the end, with contributors across the field.
It was a game mostly bereft of highlights, but Hawthorn did what was required of them and will move onwards. Melbourne have yet-more soul searching to do before facing the seemingly impossible task of facing Sydney at the SCG next weekend.
The night ended on a slightly sour note as Hawthorn sub, veteran player Michael Osborne, came on and was shortly after resigned to a spot on the bench after hyper-extending his knee.
3. Matt Suckling
2. Liam Shiels
1. David Hale
Melbourne: Clark 3, Howe, McKenzie, Magner
Hawthorn: Franklin 3, Puopolo 2, Young 2, Breust, Hale, Rioli, Roughead, Savage, Smith, Lewis, Suckling
Melbourne: Jones, Clark, McKenzie, Grimes, Howe
Hawthorn: Shiels, Birchall, Sewell, Suckling, Hale, Roughead, Lewis, Young