Tonight was beyond frustrating. It is only now that I can even contemplate sitting down and writing about what I witnessed. The score line was nothing unusual for a Sydney Hawthorn game; it seems almost compulsory now that our games be decided by a goal or less. What was unusual was the poor standard of football played by both sides.

The team that played half of the match this evening was one we hadn’t seen since the early rounds of this season. They were disorganised, almost listless at times and had no sense of direction. If I had a dollar for every ‘kick and hope’ that took place tonight I would be very rich. Watching them fail to adjust after time and time again it proved a fruitless tactic was infuriating.

The team we have come to be so proud of over the last few weeks were gone. It seems form means nothing when we enter into a match against Hawthorn and it is starting to get ridiculous. We are more than capable of playing footy that would have destroyed Hawthorn tonight. Yet we didn’t even get close to that kind of performance.

This strange hoodoo that holds us back against them is a classic example of the anomalies that exist in sport. We were the team going from strength to strength, sitting higher on the ladder and with the talent to get the job done. Yet they won. Why? The Hawthorn Effect. We take to the field against them and suddenly we feel rushed. We second-guess every move and we make mistakes.

It appeared that tonight the monkey had returned to the back of Buddy Franklin, his own personal Hawthorn Effect. Whenever he received the ball he was unsure what to do with it, fumbling and generally making a mess of it. It was painful to watch. Tonight was a night we desperately needed him to rise and do those impossible things that only he can do. Aside from a few well-placed kicks, the extraordinary Buddy was really very ordinary.

Thankfully at least one Swan appears to be immune to the Hawthorn Effect. McVeigh never ceases to amaze me, with his cool head and excellent decision-making no matter what pressure he is under. Tonight was no exception and he helped keep us in touch despite our dismal performance. Now if he could only share some of that immunity with his teammates, we might stand a chance.

Tonight also made me acutely aware of how vital Rohan is to this side. All across the ground he contributes, whether it is his great tackling, pace through the middle of the ground or ability to take strong marks and boot goals. He was missed. Oh, was he missed. I can’t help but think that the Rohan Effect could have been enough of an antidote to overcome the Hawthorn Effect.

Overall the game was fairly unimpressive. Hawthorn are far from their best and it was their inability to kick goals in the back end of the game that gave us half a chance to win. Sadly, we had neither the time nor the conviction to get the job done. At half time I knew what would happen – we would fight back, get close but ultimately lose. It is a script well rehearsed and as fans we know every line. It is a steep climb home now but thankfully not one likely to be further hampered by the Hawthorn Effect.

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