Round 2 – Hawthorn V Melbourne

Hapless Hawks Succumb to Driven Demons

Liam Chambers

Stellar start for Melbourne

The Dees were back at the MCG for Round 2. Hawthorn would be hoping to improve on the flashes of promising form they show during the latter half of 2023, but the smart money would be on Melbourne.

The Dees had a few chances early on but when Kysaiah Pickett saw a half chance in front of goal, he took it, and put Melbourne eight points in front. Hawk fans were seeing a lot of possession from their team in the early stages of the term, but also seeing a lot of struggle to reach inside 50.

Melbourne on the other hand didn’t mess about when they had the ball; heading straight for the goal square. Bailey Fritsch produced his first goal when the sherrin, ably provided by Jack Viney, sailed over the pack and landed in his arms. All he had to do was turn and amble into the square, then tap the ball home.

Meanwhile, Hawthorn supporters continued to endure a game of pass the footy, while the players got no closer to their forward 50.

Last week I described Pickett as Mr Excitement. This week he again showed why he is such an asset to the Dees. After marking the ball from an Alex Neal-Bullen kick, 55m from home, he assessed the situation and, seeing that no one was near the goal square, he launched. The ball landed on the line and flipped across for his second of the quarter.

Melbourne won the bounce and headed straight back towards goal. Jack Billings took a hand pass from Christian Petracca, then snapped from 40m to claim the Dees’ fourth. Then another bounce and Melbourne were again inside 50. This time there was fumbles galore as Hawthorn struggled to defend before Fritsch took advantage of a high tackle call to snatch his second.

Harrison Petty was back taking fantastic contested marks but battling to reclaim the goal kicking accuracy that defined the second half of his 2023 season. His set shots not quite hitting the target.

Hawthorn recover some momentum

Simon Goodwin would have been happy with his team’s performance in the first term; the Hawthorn Coach, not so much. Fifty three marks for a single point would have been concerning and the thirty two point deficit must have seemed like a mountain to climb. Despite that, the Hawks finally got themselves back into contention when Connor MacDonald marked the ball 30m out and converted the set shot.

Speaking of conversions, Kozzie’s set shot from 45m hit the bullseye, notching up his hat trick in the process.

With the margin still in the same place as it was at quarter time, Hawthorn knew they had to raise their game or risk being annihilated. Suddenly it was Melbourne having to desperately defend while the Hawks piled on the pressure. Still the hosts couldn’t land a punch.

Finally they breached the Dees’ defence when Mabior Chol’s kick picked out Luke Breust running back to the square. The five hundred plus goal veteran marked, turned and thumped the ball through for Hawthorn’s second.

It also turned out to be a double whammy for Melbourne. In addition to conceding the goal, they also lost Steven May to a suspected broken rib.

Momentum restored and built on

After the break, Marty Hore took to the ground replacing the injured May, who would be out for the remainder of the game. Hawthorn again applied all the pressure but couldn’t make it count inside 50.

Then ten minutes into the second half, Kade Chandler kicked a 50m set shot to extend Melbourne’s lead. It was a case of yin and yang though, as Jake Lever hobbled off with a knee injury. Now the Dees were without two of their key defenders; conditions that would normally favour the opposition.

Instead, the visitors scored the next goal when Bailey Fritsch took a hand pass from Petracca, then turned, snapping off his left boot and sending the ball 35m, soaring before crossing the goal line.

The Hawks had wasted most of the opportunities presented to them in front of goal but eventually Josh Weddle managed to finish accurately to reduce the deficit to thirty points.

When Kade Chandler is on form, he doesn’t miss much and his 40m set shot to the left of goal was perfect. It was a quick two in a row when Melbourne managed to fumble possession after the bounce and head in the right direction. Tracca ended up with the ball on the 50m arc allowing him to snap the Dees tenth of the afternoon.

Dees get in some more goal kicking practice

The last term started promisingly for Hawthorn when Mitch Lewis’s kick from the pocket found the target.

The response from Melbourne was immediate as Jacob van Rooyen ran out to meet Christian Petracca’s kick from the middle of the ground. The key forward did his trademark eyeing up of the goal before kicking straight through the middle.

Fritsch then took a brilliant mark before converting from 48m to basically seal Hawthorn’s fate. He was on again when marking Tracca’s bullet from just outside the centre circle. Five for the afternoon attributed to the high scoring forward.

Hawthorn kept trying but they were unable to break through the Melbourne defence, despite the absence of May and Lever.

With a minute remaining, Tom Sparrow boosted the Demons’ percentage a tad more when slotting a goal from a running kick 30m out.

Next week we travel to Adelaide for the first of back to back matches in the City of Churches. Playing against Port is never an easy task, especially when Steven May is on the sidelines. Still…

Go the Mighty Dees!!!