Hawks take flight early but Dees prevail

May 7, 2022 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Sponsoring James 

Round 7 – Melbourne V Hawthorn

Liam Chambers

Hawthorn gave Melbourne one of their toughest games last season and with a Covid depleted side, this round would be no picnic.

The Hawks struck early when Jacob Koschitzke marked and scored from 50m out. The veteran Luke Breust made it two unanswered after some uncharacteristic errors and fumbles from the Demons. Breust had another chance shortly afterwards but miskicked for a behind. Watching from isolation, Simon Goodwin would have been a little tense though ultimately confident his side would come good.

Hawthorn had a few more minor scores before Bayley Fritsch stepped up and slotted the Dees’ first. A few minutes later though and the Hawks pulled away again when Connor MacDonald collected a tap down to snap the visitors’ third.

Melbourne’s second came after Christian Petracca kicked a perfectly placed ball to Tom McDonald. The big man went back to kick straight and true. Toby Bedford, so long the spectator, was having a good game. His ground work was excellent but he had yet to kick a goal in the top flight. That changed after Fritsch placed a kick to a spot 35m in front of goal and Bedford ran out to mark it, just above ground level. His conversion caused an avalanche of Dees to descend on the young forward and there was much rejoicing.

With the margin waver thin, the fans knew they had a game on their hands at the beginning of the second term. The match restarted at a frenetic pace with Melbourne determined to add a few more goals.

James Harmes thought he’d score a brilliant individual effort after scooping a tap down, then fending off an attack and launching a bullet off the outside of his boot. Tom McDonald turned party pooper when he marked the ball just before it crossed the line. When later told T Mac owed him a drink, Harmes quipped “he wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him”.

It’s becoming a tradition that Max Gawn scores a long range goal every game now. He duly obliged after marking on the 50m line. Dylan Moore responded when his own 50m shot connected. The Hawks added a couple of minor scores before ex Demon Sam Frost took Ben Brown in a high tackle. Brown kick around the corner and the lead was back out to ten points.

The tall forward had two in a minute when Toby Bedford crumbed the ball while running full pelt, then passed it to Tom McDonald who passed it to Brown. The ball flew low and straight into the waiting goal.

With the match threatening to get away from Hawthorn, they went at Melbourne even harder, culminating in a free kick for Jacob Koschitzke. The key forward converted for his second. With the gap again back to ten points, the Hawks kept pressing. It seems like every team raises their game when facing the Dees but Hawthorn remembered how close they came last year and were well up for the fight.

Only leading by nine points at half time, Melbourne would need to play their best footy if they were to avert an upset. When Jacob Koschitzke marked 40m out and directly in front, the Hawks had the faithful believing.

Now Melbourne were under immense pressure but managed to break away to reach their forward fifty where Tom McDonald marked but was unable to convert. Ben Brown had a chance a few minutes later when Sam Frost chopped his arm going for the mark. Brown had his third and the Dees added to the daylight between themselves and the Hawks. Then Max Gawn took another mark just inside 50 and kicked his second.

Just as it looked like Melbourne was accelerating off into the distance, Hawthorn clawed one back. This time it was Chad Wingard who scored from 40m in front.
The villain of the afternoon Sam Frost gave away another free kick. Again it was Ben Brown who was the victim and beneficiary. Brown was felled 20m from goal and it was an easy conversion for his fourth goal which extended the lead to fifteen.

A classic passage of play from the Demons then stretched it further. Tom McDonald calmly kept the ball inside the boundary line, then kicked a bouncer to Jake Melksham who hand passed to Toby Bedford. Bedford sped up and kicked cleanly from 30m.

With the Dees finally nullifying Hawthorn’s attacks, they got the ball inside 50, where Sam Weideman took the perfect contested mark. Weideman went back and kicked Melbourne’s twelfth goal of the night. When you’re on a roll, everything seems possible. Certainly the way, first Fritsch then Luke Dunstan kept the ball inside the boundary line looked confoundedly easy. Dunstan’s acrobatic hand pass to Christian Petracca allowed the midfielder to duck and weave before launching a torpedo through the posts.

Trailing by thirty three points approaching three quarter time, a lesser team would have struggled to believe. The Hawks are chasers though and when Jaeger O’Meara chipped into the goal, the door was still open.

A five goal lead is a nice buffer but Melbourne would still need to be at their best in the final term. When Tom Mitchell was deemed held 20m to the left of goal, it was a case of thank you very much and the lead was cut to twenty two points. The Dees could have put the game beyond reach at the half way mark but Charlie Spargo just missed and Clayton Oliver hit the upright.

When James Worpel’s mighty running kick from 50m went through, the previous high lead had been cut in half. Just three goals separated the teams. Demon fans everywhere had run out of fingers and started on their toenails. The players themselves would have been bit a bit shaken too. Even Fritsch and Brown couldn’t steady nerves with their late shots on goal.

Hawthorn never relented and with fifteen seconds to go, Jacob Koschitzke marked just outside the square and kicked his fourth.

All in all a very good result considering how well the Hawks have performed this year and how many of Melbourne’s important players were missing.

Next week it’s St Kilda. The Saints are a contender for finals and may well end up in the top four. We welcome back Luke Jackson, along with Pickett, Sparrow, Petty and Neal-Bullen. Something tells me we will need everyone of them to be in top shape to overcome St Kilda. We can if we believe we can.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Watch Toby Bedford’s First Two AFL Goals – Round 7, 2022 here


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