HAPPY days are here again for Hawthorn after an emphatic 63-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
A pall of gloom had been hovering over the club and its supporters after champion forward Cyril Rioli announced his premature retirement on Wednesday, but a brilliant outing against the in-form Bulldogs leaves the Hawks (9-6) back in the eight with several winnable games to come.
The 19.8 (122) to 9.5 (59) win was set up with a scintillating third quarter, during which the Hawks slammed on 7.4 to 0.1 to turn a two-point half-time deficit into a 43-point lead. It might have been their most impressive quarter of the season.
Hawthorn’s forward line has struggled for much of the year, but was on song on Saturday night, with Luke Breust kicking an equal career-best six goals (four in the first quarter), while Jarryd Roughead (four) and Jack Gunston (four) also hit the scoreboard. It was the first time since round two that the Hawks have kicked more than 100 points in a game.
More significantly is that their percentage jumped from 113.2 to 118.1.
The Hawks were given an armchair ride through the middle with ruckman Ben McEvoy dominant and allowing Isaac Smith (30), Liam Shiels (29), Jaeger O’Meara (28) and Daniel Howe (25) to run riot. Howe’s effort was all the more meritorious given he also had the job on Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli, who had 23 possessions but little impact.
Brownlow favourite Tom Mitchell was reasonably well held by Josh Dunkley but still finished with 27 touches.
But Hawthorn’s clearance (41-34) and contested possession (140-116) numbers would have thrilled coach Alastair Clarkson, after such a poor effort in that area last week against Greater Western Sydney.
“We were really pleased with the endeavour of the players,” Clarkson said. “As the game wore on we were able to stop the Western Bulldogs’ bounce from half-back.
“I was pleased with our work around the ball. They’re a clever side at controlling the ball around the contest but we tackled them really strongly and it was pleasing to gain some ascendancy in that area.”
To watch Luke Breust’s highlights from the night, click the link below: