Chad Wingard played perhaps his best game for the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Chad Wingard played perhaps his best game for the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Insipid Giants freeze as Hawks win ‘Snow Bowl’

THE only thing colder than the snow in Canberra was Greater Western Sydney.

Still dreaming of a double chance, the Giants missed a golden opportunity to stay in top-four calculations with an "insipid" effort in temperatures that felt like -7.5C.

Hawthorn booted the first three goals of the Friday-night match and the frozen Giants failed to thaw, even as the white-hot Hawks scorched through the icy blast of snow that fell across Manuka Oval.

Four goals to zip in the third term quickly became a goalless second half for the Giants - the first time that's happened since their inaugural season in 2012, ironically against the Hawks.

It was another classic coaching performance by the master, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson, setting it off with early mind games, running around shirtless in the cold before the match, rocking up in shorts, then laughing and dancing with his Hawks as the snow fell on them in the quarter-time huddle.

 

 

He topped it off by shedding his jumper and coming out on to the field at the end of the game in just a polo shirt.

It was win No.214 for the legendary mentor, who presides over his 350th AFL match next week.

He revealed his mind games were inspired by the great coach John Kennedy.

"We prepared well for the conditions, the boys executed the game plan really well, we're really pleased with the four-quarter effort," Clarkson said on Seven after the match.

"(I was) probably inspired a bit by John Kennedy.

"I remember one year at footy training he forgot his footy boots, so he just came out to training in bare feet in the middle of winter.

"Sometimes you've got to show the way with your players, you've got to play in tough conditions.

"This is their home deck, we've never played here before, it was a super effort by the guys."

GWS star Heath Shaw told Seven at half-time the crowd going wild when the snow began to fall was an interesting spectacle and his hands were "numb".

Clarko rocking around the shorts in conditions that felt like -7.5C. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Clarko rocking around the shorts in conditions that felt like -7.5C. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

It was an indicator that, as the Giants worried about the cold, the Hawks worried about the task at hand - and they hardly put a foot wrong.

James Sicily and James Frawley formed the defensive wall, Liam Shiels, Isaac Smith and Ricky Henderson provided the run and carry and Chad Wingard produced the polish.

Boom youngster James Worpel is doing his best impersonation of Brownlow Medal winner  Tom Mitchell, who would be salivating at the possibility of partnering in the midfield with the young tough nut when he returns from a broken leg next season.

Tim O’Brien, Isaac Smith and Ricky Henderson celebrate a goal. Picture: AAP
Tim O’Brien, Isaac Smith and Ricky Henderson celebrate a goal. Picture: AAP

He revealed Hawthorn great Sam Mitchell, who joined the club's coaching staff at the end of last season, had helped him take his game to another level.

"I've never actually been to the snow, so first time for me, so it was pretty bloody cold," Worpel said on Seven.

"I'm really settled in Melbourne, I've got a great coaching staff around me, Sam Mitchell's done a huge amount of work with me and I'm just loving my footy at the moment."

Toby Greene was the only Giant to sizzle in the cold. Picture: AAP
Toby Greene was the only Giant to sizzle in the cold. Picture: AAP

Only Toby Greene could hold his head high for the Giants, putting his body on the line and finding a mountain of footy when no other Giant could.

As time wound down on the loss, Geelong great Cameron Ling sunk the boot in to the Giants, calling them "insipid".

"You can't describe them as anything else other than mentally weak," Ling said on the Seven commentary.

If Richmond beats Carlton on Sunday, the Giants will be two games out of the top four, effectively ending their hopes of a double chance, while the Hawks kept their very slim finals hopes alive.

The Giants struggled in the snow. Picture: AAP
The Giants struggled in the snow. Picture: AAP

 

EARLY HAWKS' BLOW

Hawthorn was forced to make a quick change before the ball was even bounced when star goalkicker Jack Gunston went down with injury.

The 27-year-old hurt his hamstring during warm-ups and was replaced in the selected side by Irishman Connor Nash.

Gunston reportedly experienced tightness in the muscle while kicking a soccer ball before the match, with Sydney premiership coach Paul Roos seeing irony in the Hawks' predicament.

"Interesting you can't wear a long sleeve shirt, but you can kick a soccer ball," Roos said on the Fox Footy coverage, referring to Clarkson's hard-line stance on players wearing long-sleeve jumpers.

The Giants were also forced to make a late change, with ball-winner Jacob Hopper also hurting his hamstring and being replaced in the selected side by debutante Jye Caldwell.

YOU'RE KIDDING, UMPIRE?

It's not often you feel sorry for Greene but, midway through the third term, the GWS prime mover nearly had his face ripped off in a tackle by Worpel.

Greene gathered the ball and tried to baulk Worpel, whose arm slid up the Giant's shoulder and slammed into his face.

The umpire was heard to say over the on-ground mic "you threw your head back".

Normally, the umpire would be right, but not this time, much to the chagrin of a bemused Greene - and the typical trolls on social media.

You do wonder if it was anyone other than Greene - or maybe Sicily - it would have been a free kick.

Ollie Hanrahan, Mitchell Lewis and Tim O’Brien are happy men after another Hawthorn goal. Picture: AAP
Ollie Hanrahan, Mitchell Lewis and Tim O’Brien are happy men after another Hawthorn goal. Picture: AAP

SCOREBOARD

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.1 4.1 4.2 4.5 (29)

HAWTHORN 3.1 6.2 10.5 13.7 (85)

GOALS

Giants: Kennedy, Hately, Cameron, Deledio

Hawks: O'Brien 2, Puopolo 2, Bruest 2, Lewis 2, Scully, Nash, Smith, Wingard, Henderson

MICHAEL RANDALL'S BEST

Giants: Greene, Whitfield, Taranto, Williams, Perryman

Hawks: Worpel, Sicily, Smith, Wingard, Shiels, Henderson

MICHAEL RANDALL'S VOTES

3 - James Worpel (HAW)

2 - James Sicily (HAW)

1 - Toby Greene (GWS)

INJURIES

Giants: Jacob Hopper (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Jye Caldwell, Brett Deledio (Calf)

Hawks: Jack Gunston (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Conor Nash, Mitch Lewis (shoulder)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Foot, Williamson, Mollison

Official crowd: 11,741 at Manuka Oval

Snow tumbles down as the Giants and Hawks battle it out. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Snow tumbles down as the Giants and Hawks battle it out. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

LEON CAMERON: WE'RE EMBARRASSED

GWS coach Leon Cameron is confident his team has the mental strength to steady the ship despite turning in one of their worst performances in years.

"We are embarrassed, let's be honest," Cameron said.

"It was one of our worst losses for a long time. We need to put our hand up and take responsibility. Some things had been rearing their head (in recent games) and they surfaced tonight.

"But I'm really confident in our group, they've got a steely resolve to right the wrong and there were a lot of wrongs tonight."

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News Corp Australia


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