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Big names produce big quarter as Hawks steamroll Bulldogs

Hawthorn on-baller Liam Shiels eludes a despairing dive from Bulldog Mitch Wallis during the Hawks’ 63-point win. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Big names produce big quarter as Hawks steamroll Bulldogs

Rohan Connolly    

Hawthorn’s 63-point win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night came on the back of two bursts of powerful football.

The first lasted only 10 minutes in the first term, but was important, four quick goals in time-on restoring some equilibrium after the Dogs had begun to get the scent of another upset win in their nostrils with a 13-point lead.

The second, unfortunately for the Doggies, lasted a fair bit longer, the entire third quarter in fact. And in this explosive 28-minute period, the damage inflicted was total and for the opponent, fatal.

Seven unanswered goals to just one behind was the upshot, a two-point deficit becoming a match-winning 43-point lead for Hawthorn, which remains very much in the running not only to be part of September, but to have several more highly-rated opponents looking anxiously over their shoulders.

As good as some of the younger faces and imports have been for Alastair Clarkson’s team, it’s when the household names are all firing that the Hawks become a lot closer to the version which left the rest of the AFL in its wake for a good four years. And that was certainly the case in the third term of this game.

Leading the way when it mattered were some very familiar faces. Like Jack Gunston, who booted three of the Hawks’ seven goals in the quarter, took five strong marks and had eight disposals.

There was skipper Jarryd Roughead, who’d had only six touches to half-time but enjoyed eight of them and a couple of goals on the resumption. And the damaging run of Isaac Smith, with 10 third-term disposals.

In addition to which Hawthorn was able to quell the man who’d caused them all sorts of problems early, Bulldog running defender Jason Johannisen. Walking to the rooms for half-time, “JJ” had 25 disposals to his name and was on target for 50-odd. When the teams went to the final huddles at three-quarter time, he’d added just four more.

It was 30-odd minutes of total dominance. The Hawks had 42 more disposals than the Bulldogs, nearly trebled their opponent’s miserable three clearances, doubled their inside 50 entries, while marks inside 50 were 10-0. Defensively, they laid 20 more tackles.

Add the work of the Hawthorn big names to the five-goal first half of the brilliant small forward Luke Breust, six for the game, plus the brilliant game of Ben Stratton in defence, and this was a night a side which has been through more than a little transition over the last couple of years showed it still has enough of the old magic to worry anyone.

Enough of the newer breed, too, Jaeger O’Meara showing some more evidence that he might be moving back towards his best pre-knee problems. Daniel Howe, also, who did a fine job in curbing the brilliance of Marcus Bontempelli.

Sadly for the Dogs, a couple of weeks in which they also looked a lot like their old selves puttered out halfway into the third week. There was some encouragement from newcomer Brad Lynch, Josh Schache showed some glimpses again, but this was another night you looked at the club’s casualty list and the final margin made plenty of sense.

It was a game of attack and counter-attack early, even to start, the Bulldogs grabbing the ascendancy first but Hawthorn wrenching it back in emphatic fashion all within the first quarter.

Breust’s opener for the Hawks was cancelled out quickly enough by the response from Schache, Harry Morrison restoring Hawthorn’s lead, Lachie Hunter squaring the ledger again after an excellent tackle from Ed Richards on Blake Hardwick.

The Dogs began to look the more dangerous midway through the term and capitalised suitably with three goals in eight minutes, helped by a bit of ill-discipline, Mitch Wallis converting a free kick, Billy Gowers from point blank range after James Sicily conceded a 50-metre penalty.

But Hawthorn, or more appropriately Breust, soon put that right. It was the Hawks who kicked the last four goals of the quarter, Breust with three of them and four for the quarter in total, crunching tackles on first Marcus Adams then Hunter winning him free kicks from which he goalled.

The Hawks were winning the centre bounce battle (always somehow more critical at Etihad) handsomely 9-2 and after a six-goal opening term took an 11-point lead to the first break.

The Dogs were far from deflated by those late-quarter blows, though, and in the second term, whilst curtailing the Hawks out of the middle, were also able to do a bit of damage of their own, much of it inflicted by a superb half from Johannisen.

After 13 goalless minutes, Shane Biggs kicked one of the ground with Johannisen credited with an assist once Luke Dahlhaus had miraculously escaped the clutches of four Hawk defenders to feed the ball off to him.

Breust had a fifth after a push from Adams, but the Dogs would kick the last two goals of the half, to Hunter and Wallis, both created again by Johannisen.

The Norm Smith Medal winner’s 25 half-time disposals was nine more than the Dogs’ next most prolific player. Josh Dunkley had kept Tom Mitchell relatively quiet, too, not so much in terms of disposals as influence.

Which perversely, was another plus for Hawthorn. Last year, had Mitchell been curbed to that extent, the Hawks would almost certainly have been beat. This time, he was just a rare Hawk who failed to cash in.

For one night at least, Hawthorn was back in the top eight. Take a look at the run home, however, taking in five of seven games against opponents outside the eight, and already you’d think the Hawks might well be there to stay.

W BULLDOGS 4.1 7.4 7.5 9.5 (59)
HAWTHORN 6.0 7.2 14.6 19.8 (122)
GOALS – W BULLDOGS: Wallis 3, Hunter 2, Gowers, Daniel, Biggs, Schache. HAWTHORN: Breust 6, Roughead 4, Gunston 4, Smith 2, Morrison, Howe, O’Meara.
BEST – W Bulldogs: Johannisen, Hunter, Dunkley, McLean, Lynch. Hawthorn: Breust, Smith, Gunston, Roughead, Howe, O’Meara, Stratton, Shiels.
At Etihad Stadium.

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