After a disappointing loss to Brisbane last week, Hawthorn were out to redeem themselves against bottom-placed Carlton. Having already lost Ben McEvoy two weeks prior, the Hawks could ill afford further changes to their team. However, this was exactly what was in store. First, it was James Sicily, who looks likely to miss the rest of the season with a broken wrist. Then, it was Jaeger O’Meara with a hip complaint. With the team balance out of kilter, Hawthorn turned to Ryan Schoenmakers and James Worpel to take on the workload.
A lacklustre Blues outfit combined with a reasonably fast start gave the Hawks a good lead at quarter time, and they did well to extend it out at half time. However, the Hawks switched off in the third quarter to allow the Blues to kick four goals in a row. While the game was never in question, percentage was on offer, and the Hawks redeemed themselves to an extent in the final term to walk out 72-point victors. In doing so, they jumped over Geelong in percentage, and remain in 8th spot before the next round commences.
For a game that had such a huge margin, I personally felt the Hawks did not play at their best for the full game. Both sides were erratic. The Blues made a meal of even the simplest disposals in the first half, and Hawthorn could not buy a goal for a period in the second and third quarters.
The standout for me was Tom Mitchell, who was crucial, especially with Jaeger O’Meara missing out. He was one of the few Hawthorn midfielders who was consistent for all four quarters and provided Hawthorn with important clearances, strong tackling pressure, and scoreboard impact. Mitchell racked up 46 disposals, 16 of them contested. He also had 9 marks, 6 clearances, 9 tackles and 2 goals, and should be a lock for 3 Brownlow votes from the game.
Not often do you fly under the radar with 30+ possessions, but such was the impact of Mitchell that Worpel quietly went about his business, playing an important hand in keeping the contested ball numbers even. The youngster collected 32 disposals at 88% efficiency, with 14 contested possessions, 3 clearances, 4 tackles and 10 score involvements. He seems to have composure beyond his years, and a lot of time with ball in hand. I love what he offers to this Hawthorn side and hope to see him in the side for the rest of the season.
Jon Ceglar waged a lone ruck battle with some support from Roughead and did well enough under the circumstances. While he does not necessarily provide the first use that McEvoy does, he is good in contest, and is not afraid to do the grunt work when required.
With Ed Curnow doing a decent job on Isaac Smith, Jarman Impey provided the dash and pace when needed, and was more than handy with his 19 disposals at 100%. It was good to see Poppy and Breust combine for 9 goals, especially with the former needing a big game to get back into form. Ryan Schoenmakers did what was required and kicked 2 goals. Ryan Burton is another one who is slowly playing himself back into form, and it was good to see him impact the game early on.
A sour downside to this game was Dan Howe’s brain fade. He was reported for two separate incidents, and looks set to miss a bulk of the remaining games. It comes at a time where Hawthorn can ill-afford another change to their structure. Kaiden Brand looked good with ball in hand, which is what makes it frustrating to watch him concede silly free kicks off the ball.
While it was a big win in the end, our fadeout in the third quarter, and our penchant to repeatedly bomb it in long and high made for frustrating viewing at times. It also made it obvious just how much we need a marking forward. Contested ball and clearances also seem to have dropped off as the season has worn on. After starting the season strongly in both areas, we sit 13th and 15th on the ladder for these stats.
We are currently not playing a finals brand of footy, partly due to missing personnel, and partly due to poor execution. With five rounds to go and a very tight ladder, each game shapes as a potential knockout. Fremantle, Essendon and Geelong in the next three rounds pose some interesting challenges to this side that is still learning each week.
I came into the season not expecting anything more than getting games into the kids and laying the foundations for the next 4-5 years. Finals will be an immense bonus, and a great experience that will give a taste of the big stage to some of the younger players. Either way, Go Hawks!
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HAWTHORN 4.3 8.7 11.13 18.16 (124)
CARLTON 0.0 1.2 5.7 7.10 (52)
Hawthorn: L Breust 5 P Puopolo 4 J Gunston 2 R Schoenmakers 2 T Mitchell 2 J Roughead R Henderson T Miles.
Carlton: P Cripps 2 C Curnow C Polson K Simpson M Kennedy M Wright.
Carlton: Kennedy, Murphy, E Curnow, Marchbank, Cripps, Weitering.
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Breust, Hardwick, Worpel, Shiels, Burton, Puopolo.
Umpires: Ray Chamberlain, Andrew Stephens, Eleni Glouftsis.
Official Crowd: 30,405 at Etihad Stadium.