The Fremantle Dockers "out-hawked" the Hawthorn Hawks at Optus Stadium in a game that signaled the turning fortunes of the two teams. The young Dockers played a traditional Hawthorn game plan, hard at the contest when the ball was in dispute but controlling the tempo of the game when they had the ball in hand. The Dockers were patient in setting their attacks and used their plan of retaining possession and moving the ball across the ground, until an avenue of attack opened. It was a dour struggle between the backlines as the defenses for both teams held firm for most of the game. The difference between the two teams was the tenacity of the young Dockers' attack on the ball supported by their ferocious tackling.
The older Hawks were caught flatfooted and had no answer for the skills of the emerging Docker midfielders. The Dockers outran the Hawks on the spread (once they had the ball in hand), gaining 253 uncontested possessions to the Hawks 171. Time has finally caught Hawthorn and their hopes of extending their season is all but over.
Andrew Brayshaw was the prime mover for the Dockers, gaining 33 possessions with 11 of those being contested in packs. Nat Fyfe was not far behind him with 28 possessions, 17 of which were won in contests. For the Hawks, Tom Mitchell stood alone, picking up 32 possessions with 17 of them contested. Jack Scrimshaw and James Worpal worked hard around the ground for the Hawks, but they were dominated by a fleet of Docker small men who rushed manically to every contest. Isaac Smith injured his shoulder early and his absence from the midfield robbed the Hawks of valuable composure. Adam Cerra, playing his third season for the Dockers, was coolness in traffic and clinical with his delivery. He was well supported by first-year player Caleb Serong who continues to thrive in the heat and pressure of packs.
Jaegar O'Meara was good at times for the Hawks and first year player Will Day showed enough promise to suggest he will be part of Hawthorn's future. Luke Breust made most of his few opportunities in attack for the Hawks with two goals. A spectacular mark and goal by James Sicily in the final quarter was the only other bright note for the Hawks in what was, for them, a confronting glimpse of their immediate future.
It was the second-tier players of the Dockers who carried the team with their pressure. Players such as Mitch Crowden and Lachie Schultz are not big men, and have average ball skills, but they compensate for this by desperation their willingness to compete. They attack the contest like guided missiles. Mitch Crowden typified the fanatical hunger of the Dockers, laying 11 tackles as he harassed and chased throughout the game. His partner in crime, Lachie Schultz, performed strongly as a defensive forward and laid three tackles, including one stealth tackle on an unsuspecting Blake Hardwick, earning Schultz a free kick which he converted into a goal.
Sean Darcy dominated both Ben McEvoy and Jonathon Ceglar in the ruck which gave the Dockers the edge in center clearances. Blake Hardwick and James Frawley battled well in defense for Hawthorn. They were well supported by Sam Frost and Ben Stratton but the big men lacked the pace to go with Schulz, Crowden, and Travis Colyer when the smaller Dockers swarmed into attack. The Docker defense was undersized but showed more mobility then their larger opponents in Morrison, Ceglar and Gunston. Brenna Cox and Ethan Hughes combined well with Luke Ryan to repel numerous Hawthorn attacks.
The immediate future for Hawthorn is not bright. In past years they used a "money ball" approach of trading for experienced players from other clubs Those players have not delivered. The Hawks are now an aging team with many of their senior stars well past their prime. The Dockers have had tough years since 2015, but they have drafted a group of young players who are just now showing the goods. The Hawks may have to endure a few years of pain by using the draft to secure more young talent before they rise again. Next week, their deficiencies will be exploited by the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Dockers have a five day break before meeting the Carlton Blues at Optus in an interesting clash of two rising teams.
Scores Fremantle: 3.1 4.4 7.4 7.6 (48) Hawthorn: 1.1 2.4 2.6 4.8 (32) Best Fremantle: Brayshaw, Serong, Cerra, Fyfe, Wilson, Cox Hawthorn: Mitchell, Morrison, O'Meara, Sicily, Scrimshaw
Article last changed on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 12:36 AM EDT