Although the atmosphere was similar to what you get sitting in a loungeroom on your own watching live sport from overseas in the dead of night, the game was promising.
However Geelong destroyed that notion quickly, bursting out of the blocks after half-time, with Rhys Stanley – playing in the ruck just two days after the arrival of his baby daughter Sloane – charging out of the square to put the Cats forward.
The ball hardly left their forward 50 for the next 20 minutes as they kicked the first five goals of the half to open up a 38-point lead to end any hopes Hawthorn had of winning. By the time the match was ended they had kicked 10 goals while restricting the Hawks to just one in the second half.
Geelong’s midfield dominated with Patrick Dangerfield, in his 250th game, joining Joel Selwood, who had played well from the start, to expose the Hawks who were missing Jaeger O’Meara.
But it wasn’t just the usual suspects that created this win for Geelong. Brandan Parfitt was outstanding in the third quarter, his combination of toughness and class creating several goals. They just rotated too many quality players through the midfield for the Hawks to handle.
The Cats’ smalls were both ferocious at ground level and accurate in front of goal, with the combination of Tom Atkins and Luke Dahlhaus underrated.
In defence Mark Blicavs was outstanding too, winning any one-on-one contest he found himself in and although Tom Stewart was rusty in the air early he found his feet in the second quarter and was impossible to beat from that point on.
In contrast Hawthorn had few contributors, with Jonathon Patton struggling up forward in his second game for the club, only kicking a goal as a result of a dubious downfield free kick.
Tom Mitchell was his usual efficient self and Sam Frost tried hard. Chad Wingard looked good when he streamed out of the middle but he didn’t do enough to turn the tide while Jack Gunston was serviceable.
Ablett has still got it
There was no crowd but the Cats played the ground better, with their small forwards holding their position better than Hawthorn’s. Gary Ablett has shown his decision to continue is right because his class when he found the ball was evident once again. He kicked two goals and set up two goals for Stanley in the first three quarters.
Shaun Burgoyne’s intent was to tackle his champion opponent Dangerfield but he slung him to the ground hard and stunned the 30-year-old. A free kick was paid and Dangerfield continued on but the match review officer will examine the incident. His teammate Chad Wingard also gave away a free kick for a studs-up infringement when he put his boot into Tom Atkins’ face. It was not quite in the Toby Greene on Dahlhaus category but it upset Harry Taylor who let Wingard know his feelings.
GEELONG 5.2 7.4 13.6 17.6 (108)
HAWTHORN 4.1 6.4 7.5 7.5 (47)
Geelong: Miers 3, Ablett 2, Dahlhaus 2, Stanley 2, Menegola 2, Atkins 2, Rohan, Selwood, Duncan, Dangerfield
Hawthorn: Gunston 2, Patton, Breust, Hanrahan, Burgoyne, O’Brien
Geelong: Selwood, Parfitt, Blicavs, Ablett, Stanley, Menegola, Stewart
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Gunston, Frost, Wingard
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.