Hawthorn forward Tim O’Brien threw his hat in the ring for Mark of the Year with a classic grab against the Giants on Sunday.
With his side down by three points midway through the second term, Hawks midfielder Chad Wingard sent a kick deep inside forward 50.
There was no shortage of orange and charcoal jerseys, but it was O’Brien who soared through the air in pursuit of the footy, knocking teammate Luke Breust to the turf as he pulled off a mark for the ages.
“What a mark! … that’s a nice grab isn’t it,” said Fox Footy’s Anthony Hudson.
“That’s a beauty. That’s a (Mark of the Year) contender,” added Hawks legend Jason Dunstall.
Having taken control of the inside 50 count early in the second quarter, the Hawks finally hit the lead when O’Brien slotted his first goal for the afternoon off the back of the mark.
It wasn’t long before he had his second, but it was the mark that started it all that had fans excited.
An inspired Hawthorn has denied GWS a golden chance to break into the top eight, overcoming an early 23-point deficit to produce a dazzling three-goal victory.
The Hawks were lacklustre early and conceded the opening four goals of the match, but stormed back into the contest and survived a series of momentum swings to eventually run away from the Giants and record the 13.12 (90) to 11.6 (72) win.
Captain Ben McEvoy led from the front with eight marks (three contested), 19 touches and a goal, while ball-magnet Tom Mitchell amassed 40 disposals through the midfield.
Jack Scrimshaw’s class across half-back was again impressive, disposing of the ball 28 times at 85 per cent efficiency and taking a pair of contested marks.
The Giants had a golden opportunity to cement themselves into finals contention and take eighth spot from the out-of-form Richmond, but the loss means they will again face an uphill battle to feature in September.
The game lacked atmosphere initially, as Bobby Hill’s impressive opening goal was met with the quiet applause of the ‘home’ cheer squad, whose orange and charcoal colours stretched little more than a few rows at the Punt Road end.
Conditions were perfect for football nonetheless, and when Hawthorn lacked early tenacity, the Giants were presented the chance to make a statement with an early 23-point lead.
The Hawks, however, soon came to life, and stunned their opponents with eight of the next nine goals.
It began with an explosive James Worpel goal, and gained momentum when Tim O’Brien launched to take a stunning, old-fashioned ‘speccy’ in the goal square.
O’Brien booted the next two goals, and as the previously lifeless crowd found considerable voice, it was now the Giants on the ropes.
An inspired Hawthorn captured momentum and built a 22-point lead of their own, but true to the see-sawing nature of the contest, their advantage was soon erased with the Giants’ Toby Greene landing a double blow to reduce the margin to only three points by the last break.
The Hawks broke away again to start the last, fought off yet another Giants fightback, then booted three of the last four goals to claim an exciting triumph.
A first goal for the ages
When third-gamer Jai Newcombe was tasked with a set shot from outside 50 early in the last quarter, he lined up for goal like a 200-gamer. And his finish resembled that of a seasoned veteran, too, with the 55-metre bomb sailing through to give the Hawks an early final-term gap.
Debutant Denver Grainger-Barrass almost claimed a Mark of the Year nomination of his own in the second term, when he channelled Nick Riewoldt by charging into a pack and hanging on for a screamer.
But the umpire showed no interest in the theatrics, holding firm and paying the Giants’ Daniel Lloyd a free kick for high contact.
GWS GIANTS 5.1 5.4 8.6 11.6 (72)
HAWTHORN 2.3 6.6 8.9 13.12 (90)
GWS GIANTS: Whitfield, Kelly, Greene, Flynn, Cumming, Perryman
HAWTHORN: McEvoy, Scrimshaw, Mitchell, Day, Ceglar, Howe
GWS GIANTS: Nil
HAWTHORN Chad Wingard (hamstring), Denver Grainger-Barras (concussion)