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Clear! With one big jolt, Geelong’s season comes back to life

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The quarter-time scoreboard was so deceptive it is a wonder Sports Integrity Australia was not called in. The half-time score was only a little less misleading.

Half-time? It would be more accurate to say that it was full-time in the curtain-raiser. It was the calm before the storm.

It would not be strictly true to say that the Cats who emerged after half-time were unrecognisable from the first half, rather than they were suddenly recognisable as the irresistible force of 2022. It was not that they swapped jumpers with the Hawks, but swapped back into their own old kit. As if by a jolt of electricity, or one good CPR pump, their airways cleared and everything came back in an instant.

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell had no answers.Credit: Getty

Time after time, they swept in formation out of the centre. Captain Patrick Dangerfield was back in his pomp. Tom Hawkins and Tyson Stengle, barely seen in the first half and in for that matter the first three games, made their marks. Ollie Henry at least had an alibi for being unseen; he was the sub. He also chimed in.

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Everything began to whirr and hum as it did throughout their unbeaten last four months of last year. Mitch Duncan, in his first game for the season, stiffened and deepened the midfield. Tom Stewart again ran the defence like a drill.

The stats sheet again bore out the evidence of the eye; simply, the Cats did not allow the Hawks to get their hands on the ball. As coach Sam Mitchell noted, they just did not know a way out of their predicament. In the coach’s box, Mitchell asked the lamed Lewis if he could see an answer, but he could not.

Cameron, having kept the Cats in it, now led the parade, finishing with seven goals. Just turned 30, he is in career-best form, which is saying something. And it’s a blessed team that can send Hawkins up the field a little in search of form, knowing that they had a phalanx to fall in behind him.

The confidence that Dangerfield said had been strangely lacking suddenly suffused the team. It was like watching a big balloon inflate. When half-back flanker Mark O’Connor streamed through the middle of the MCG to get in on the goalkicking act, the Cats could stand down their emergency response team, pack away the life vests and put the kettle on.

At some point, what had shaped as an upset ceased even to be a contest. Of course, Geelong’s victim was merely Hawthorn, a rebored, prototype team, a project, still on the petrie dish.

But when a team clicks, it clicks. It’s not Monday’s spark that will matter in the long run, but the flame that is now burning. Geelong can file away the first three games under miscellaneous. The AFL spent most of last decade cursing the Hawks for their tyranny. Now they will be damned again for their helplessness and the way it gave Geelong’s season a push start.


The quarter-time scoreboard was so deceptive it is a wonder Sports Integrity Australia was not called in. The half-time score was only a little less misleading.

Half-time? It would be more accurate to say that it was full-time in the curtain-raiser. It was the calm before the storm.

It would not be strictly true to say that the Cats who emerged after half-time were unrecognisable from the first half, rather than they were suddenly recognisable as the irresistible force of 2022. It was not that they swapped jumpers with the Hawks, but swapped back into their own old kit. As if by a jolt of electricity, or one good CPR pump, their airways cleared and everything came back in an instant.

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell had no answers.

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell had no answers.Credit: Getty

Time after time, they swept in formation out of the centre. Captain Patrick Dangerfield was back in his pomp. Tom Hawkins and Tyson Stengle, barely seen in the first half and in for that matter the first three games, made their marks. Ollie Henry at least had an alibi for being unseen; he was the sub. He also chimed in.

Loading

Everything began to whirr and hum as it did throughout their unbeaten last four months of last year. Mitch Duncan, in his first game for the season, stiffened and deepened the midfield. Tom Stewart again ran the defence like a drill.

The stats sheet again bore out the evidence of the eye; simply, the Cats did not allow the Hawks to get their hands on the ball. As coach Sam Mitchell noted, they just did not know a way out of their predicament. In the coach’s box, Mitchell asked the lamed Lewis if he could see an answer, but he could not.

Cameron, having kept the Cats in it, now led the parade, finishing with seven goals. Just turned 30, he is in career-best form, which is saying something. And it’s a blessed team that can send Hawkins up the field a little in search of form, knowing that they had a phalanx to fall in behind him.

The confidence that Dangerfield said had been strangely lacking suddenly suffused the team. It was like watching a big balloon inflate. When half-back flanker Mark O’Connor streamed through the middle of the MCG to get in on the goalkicking act, the Cats could stand down their emergency response team, pack away the life vests and put the kettle on.

At some point, what had shaped as an upset ceased even to be a contest. Of course, Geelong’s victim was merely Hawthorn, a rebored, prototype team, a project, still on the petrie dish.

But when a team clicks, it clicks. It’s not Monday’s spark that will matter in the long run, but the flame that is now burning. Geelong can file away the first three games under miscellaneous. The AFL spent most of last decade cursing the Hawks for their tyranny. Now they will be damned again for their helplessness and the way it gave Geelong’s season a push start.

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