While the AFL is on COVID-19 hiatus, David Schout is reliving some of the most notable upsets and best bookie beats over the years. This week, a classic from 2012.

Footy at this time of the year means one thing: Hawthorn v Geelong on Easter Monday. One of the most storied rivalries of the modern era, the pair were due to face off in the upcoming holiday period had the Coronavirus not struck. As it is, we’re left reminiscing on games gone by. And this week we’re looking at the Round 19, 2012 clash between the two.

Kennett curse

The Hawks entered this clash having won their last eight games each by an astonishing average of 81 points. They were the outright AFL premiership favourites – for good reason – and as such were $1.28 favourites prior to the first bounce. But the Cats ($3.74 outsiders) had been their constant bogey side. Since an upset win in the 2008 Grand Final, the Hawks (at this time) had lost their last eight in a row to the men down the highway. The supposed hoodoo came on the back of comments made by Hawks president Jeff Kennett, who said this prior to the two sides facing off in the opening round of the 2009 AFL season: “What they don’t have, I think, is the quality of some of our players,” Kennett said. “They don’t have the psychological drive we have. We’ve beaten Geelong when it matters.”

Those comments added fuel to an already strong rivalry. Staggeringly, six of Geelong’s eight wins were by single-figure margins, underlining just how close the two sides were. And on this night, the Hawks were determined to break the drought.

Fast start

Any hopes of breaking the curse, however, were scuppered when the Cats kicked an incredible 9.3 (57) to Hawthorn’s 2.0 (12) – the best opening quarter in the club’s history. The’ pre-game line of -26.5 for the Hawks looked far too generous. And after kicking the first two majors of the second term, the Cats extended the lead, incredibly, to 51 points. But Alastair Clarkson’s men finally sprung to life and, in quick fashion, cut the lead to 17 by the main break.

Seesawing battle

The third term saw both sides kick four apiece, with the Cats maintaining their three-goal buffer. But there was always a sense that the Hawks were coming. Early dominance aside, the Cats were struggling to maintain Hawthorn’s incredible pressure around the ball and, more importantly, elite short kicking that undid most AFL sides at the time. Ten minutes into the final quarter and Geelong were still ahead, but goals to Rioli, Gunston, Whitecross and then Sewell gave the Hawks a 114-106 lead. The total points tally at this stage had already blown well beyond the pre-game line of 190.5.

Hawkins’ moment

Tom Hawkins is a two-time AFL premiership player but if you were to ask most  fans their fondest memory of the big Cat, it would be what happened next in this epic clash. Firstly (and often forgotten) he snapped on the run from 35 out to keep his side within the clash. Then – and most famously – he marked 50 metres out with 23 seconds on the clock. Down by four points, only a goal would be enough. Using up his allotted 30 seconds, the siren rang as Hawkins ran in to kick, and the full-forward thumped home a huge drop punt to seal a famous win – their ninth in a row against the Hawks. As now chief football writer for The Age Jake Niall wrote in his match report: ‘Geelong and Hawthorn’s rivalry has been the game’s most compelling for some years, but this latest instalment has taken not only their competition, but AFL football to unprecedented heights.’

Other betting notes:

  • Geelong to lead at half-time and full-time was paying $5.38 pre-game
  • Leading into the game, Hawthorn had gone in shorter than $1.35 (head-to-head) in 12 of their last 13 AFL games
  • The Cats had beaten Hawthorn earlier in the year, too, as $2.51 outsiders