Hawkins lights up MCG as Cats beat Hawks

Oliver Caffrey |

Geelong milestone man Tom Hawkins kicked four goals against Hawthorn in his 350th AFL game.
Geelong milestone man Tom Hawkins kicked four goals against Hawthorn in his 350th AFL game.

Not even a 43-minute lightning delay could stop Geelong from taking down Hawthorn by 36 points in beloved club legend Tom Hawkins’ 350th game.

The Cats were cruising with a six-goal advantage before players were told to leave the field just before the start of the final quarter in the traditional Easter Monday MCG fixture.

Play resumed at 6.11pm, past the match’s original scheduled finishing time, with Geelong doing enough in torrential rain to win 17.4 (106) to 10.10 (70) in front of 67,020 fans.

Hawks leave field for bad weather
Hawthorn players leave the MCG as extreme weather hits the venue. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

After a stunning seven-goal opening quarter, the Cats had to contend with a fierce fightback when the Hawks reduced the margin to four points early in the third term.

But Geelong broke away again with six of the next seven goals before heavy rain set in during the third quarter.

Officials were told by the Bureau of Meteorology that lightning was present within a 10km radius, and the call was made to stop the match. 

Once the teams left the field, AFL rules state they had to be off for at least 20 minutes.

Play was also stopped in a 2021 game between West Coast and Melbourne at Optus Stadium due to lightning.

Power forward Hawkins was a valuable contributor in his milestone match, kicking two first-quarter goals and finishing with an equal game-high four.

Hawkins – who will become Geelong’s games record holder in six weeks – overtook recently-retired Richmond great Jack Riewoldt (787) to move to 13th for most goals kicked in VFL/AFL history.

Hawkins’ family and former Cats teammates packed out the club’s rooms after he was chaired from the ground by Jeremy Cameron and Mitch Duncan.

Tom Hawkins competes for the ball with Jack Scrimshaw.
Hawkins was feted by teammates past and present after the game. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

“They (teammates) love the guy,” Cats coach Chris Scott said.

“He’s just been such a great ally for so many people over the years.

“It says something that Harry Taylor jumped on two planes from Geraldton to get here.

“There’s a lot of ex-players and families coming to honour the great man, which I think is a nice touch.”

Young Cats forward Ollie Henry, who looked sore in the warm-up before the match, complemented Hawkins perfectly with four goals of his own.

Midfielder Tanner Bruhn fired with 27 possessions, 18 of them in the first-half, in his best game since moving to Geelong from GWS at the end of 2022.

After missing the finals last year for the first time since 2015, Geelong have raced out of the blocks at 3-0 following previous wins against St Kilda and Adelaide.

Tanner Bruhn.
Tanner Bruhn was a strong contributor for Geelong with 27 disposals. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Hawthorn remain winless, but coach Sam Mitchell was happy with the response after his men looked on course for a thumping at quarter-time.

“They had two patches of the game where they just were able to hit the scoreboard too easily,” Mitchell said.

“Obviously the lightning (came), something completely different … but we responded to that well, but too little, too late.”

In a blow for the Hawks, key forward Mitch Lewis injured his hamstring and failed to take any part in the last quarter.

Recruit Mabior Chol gave Hawthorn supporters some hope of an upset with three goals scored in an exciting burst during the second quarter and early in the third term.

No.5 draft pick Nick Watson thrived in the wet, kicking an opportunistic goal in the last quarter and going close to adding another for the Hawks.

But Watson was helped from the field by trainers with a suspected left ankle injury with just seconds remaining and will undergo scans.

Geelong will face the Western Bulldogs in Gather Round on Saturday night, while Hawthorn (0-3) will play reigning premiers Collingwood at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.