Scott’s AFL pass to discuss ‘issues’ as rotation move bites; Hawks push for Tassie showdown


Geelong not only lost the free-kick count on a hot and humid night in Darwin, the fumbling Cats were comprehensively outplayed by the sure-handed Suns in every facet of the game.

“We just thought that we got beaten in every area,” Scott said after his side’s third straight loss. “And sometimes when you get beaten around the ball, you can get a bit desperate and sort of grab an arm or something like that. So it’s probably more likely that sort of stuff [that contributed to free kicks].”

The Suns peppered the goals, and their score of 26.8 (164) was not only the highest by any side in the competition this season, but the biggest total ever kicked against a Scott-coached side.

It is plain to see that the Gold Coast have turned Darwin into a formidable home-away-from-home, winning their past six matches at the ground across the past three years.

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They have also crept up on the competition, posting their sixth victory of the season from 10 outings and climbing into the eight.

Noah Anderson chalked up 41 possessions, Matt Rowell had 35 disposals and Touk Miller 32 as the trio monstered the feeble Cats, and they looked the equal of any on-ball brigade across the competition.

There were a multitude of worrying signs for Geelong spread across Thursday night’s game. They were minus Jeremy Cameron (concussion) and the rested trio of Tom Hawkins, Mitch Duncan and Rhys Stanley, but they were completely outplayed.

Geelong’s intercept king Tom Stewart did not take a single mark, such was the fast nature of the delivery into the Gold Coast forward line. The Cats are starting to level out after their seven consecutive wins to start the season.

“We’ve been aware probably for a good three weeks now, but probably even the last 15 minutes of the game before that, that we’ve just been a little bit off and tonight was kind of the culmination of that,” Scott said.

“It was a very unusual scoreline. To give up that sort of score is unusual for us. And all the stats, as you work down the list, didn’t get any better.

Noah Anderson of the Suns.

Noah Anderson of the Suns.Credit: Getty

“They have scored a lot, they had a lot of entries, a lot of possessions, we didn’t get our hands on the ball, and when we did, we didn’t handle the conditions well enough. They were pretty hot as well.

“So I think from our point of view, we, it is not as if we have a history of playing this poorly, consistently. So we’ll tend to, and we always do, tend to look on the bright side and try to find the positives, but we’re not playing well, and we’ve got to try to galvanise the group.”

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Scott was confident the Cats could arrest the slide heading into next week’s game against Greater Western Sydney at GMHBA Stadium.

“You’re always concerned. But it’s a balance between, you know, not glossing over it, and we’re clearly not going to do that, but we’re also not going to overreact,” he said.

“So that’s the challenge, trying to find that, that reality. And hopefully that’s in the middle somewhere. But it’s clear that we’re off and we’ve got some problems that we need to fix.”

The Cats will expect to bring Hawkins back next week, to set the club’s games record, as well as Duncan, Stanley and Cameron from concussion. They will also test Sam De Koning who was a late withdrawal on Thursday night with hamstring soreness, replaced by Zach Tuohy.

Scott admitted that the club’s approach to resting and rotating players would need to be assessed after their recent string of losses.

“There’s more to it than just voluntarily leaving out guys who are in tip-top shape, but it’s certainly something that we need to assess. It’s probably in that category of, we shouldn’t just shake it off. Maybe there is an element of not quite having the cohesion that we would like at the moment. But, again, it is not something that we are going to make snap decisions on, or give opinions on right now.”

Hawks’ push for Tasmania ‘showdown’

Danny Russell

Hawthorn, the club with the most to lose financially by the introduction of a 19th AFL team, have reignited their desire to create an annual showdown against the Tasmanian Devils as part of their strategy to retain thousands of members in the island state.

The Hawks’ multimillion-dollar deal with the Tasmanian government to play four games a year in Launceston comes to an end at the end of next year, two seasons before the new club enters the competition.

But Hawthorn, who have been playing games in Tasmania for 24 years, want to maintain their lucrative links to the region and hold on to their almost 8000 Tasmanian members beyond 2028 by becoming the Devils’ fiercest rivals.

Hawthorn players celebrate their win over St Kilda at UTas Stadium in Launceston.

Hawthorn players celebrate their win over St Kilda at UTas Stadium in Launceston.Credit: Getty Images

Gowers first floated the idea of an annual showdown in 2022, and his club will continue to explore the possibility of playing home games in Launceston beyond their existing agreement.

“While the club’s current partnership with Tasmania extends until the end of 2025, we have been very clear on our desire to remain connected to the state in some way beyond that date,” Hawthorn president Andy Gowers told this masthead.

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“Hawthorn could not be happier for Tasmanians as they soon are able to cheer for an AFL team of their own following years of hard work and advocacy, and as a club we stand ready to help in any way we can as the Devils begin their journey.”

An annual showdown in Launceston would feed into the island’s north and south rivalry.

The Hawks have turned their Tasmanian home-away-from-home into a fortress since first playing there in 2001, enjoying a 73 per cent winning strike rate at the ground from 79 matches: 58 wins, 20 losses and one draw.

Last Saturday, they drew 15,000 people to the University of Tasmania Stadium, most of them wearing brown and gold, for their gritty five-point win over St Kilda, proving that there is a significant football following in the north of the state.

Hawthorn’s five-year deal with the Tasmanian government to play games at Launceston from 2018 to 2023 was worth $19 million. That deal was extended for two years until the end of 2025.

On top of that, the Tasmanian and federal governments have committed to a $65 million upgrade of UTAS Stadium, which is expected to be completed in 2027.

A computer-generated image of the proposed new AFL stadium in Hobart.

A computer-generated image of the proposed new AFL stadium in Hobart.Credit: Amy Brown

This is in addition to building a 23,000-seat roofed stadium at Hobart’s Macquarie Point as part of the AFL’s conditions to grant a new licence.

Hawthorn remain confident they can replace the multimillion-dollar Tasmanian funding with future partnerships.

Other clubs are already future-proofing their lists for when the Devils enter the competition, with Geelong list boss Andrew Mackie saying the Cats have been planning for the introduction of a new team for several years.

“If you look back to our trade period at the end of our grand final, we had that in mind when we bought in Jack Bowes, Tanner Bruhn and Ollie Henry, and we were able to get Jhye Clark in the draft,” Mackie told 3AW.

The recruitment of Jack Bowes and Oliver Henry was part of Geelong’s list strategy to prepare for an incoming Tasmanian team.

The recruitment of Jack Bowes and Oliver Henry was part of Geelong’s list strategy to prepare for an incoming Tasmanian team.Credit: AFL Photos

“We are really aware of where we need our age demographic to be, and footy performance, come the time that Tassie comes in.

“We have ongoing conversations about it – myself, Chris Scott and Steve Hocking – we work really closely on that sort of thing.

“Looking around the corners and keeping an eye on the future, it is something that you have got to keep doing. So, it’s been a couple of years of planning already into that Tassie one.”

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