It has been a mixed bag for the Hawks to start 2019 after a top four finish last season. Victories over the Crows and GWS have been the highlights of a campaign that has also included disappointing defeats against St Kilda, in which they coughed up a 25 point third quarter lead, and Melbourne.
WHAT HAS WORKED?
Getting game time into a younger players has seen a talented bunch emerge as the likes of James Worpel, James Cousins, Jack Scrimshaw and Mitch Lewis have performed in the absence of a few more heralded team mates. It has meant that Tom Scully’s early return was more of an added bonus than a much needed addition.
Ricky Henderson has also been a revelation with the 30-year old former Crow having a career best year. Don’t be surprised if the veteran utility runs away with the Best and Fairest at seasons end.
Ben McEvoy and Jonathan Ceglar have been huge in the middle, with the pair more than holding their own against the best ruck brigades in the competition. When it all clicks and the Hawks get the ball moving, they look extremely dangerous.
WHAT HASN’T WORKED?
Last in the competition for clearances and contested ball, the absence of Tom Mitchell has been telling. Relying on turnovers to generate scoring opportunities, the Hawks find themselves in the bottom third for Inside 50’s and goals scored.
Unfortunately, the positive that is young players stepping up has come about through the curse of injuries and the waning form of veterans like Jarryd Roughead and Paul Puopolo. This reliance on youngsters has also resulted inconsistency in performance that seen the Hawks struggle to string wins together.
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STAND OUT PLAYER
Having had to wait until the Hawks completed their heavy involvement in the off-season trade period before having his contract renewed, Ricky Henderson is playing like a man counting his lucky stars. The former Crow is providing some serious run for the Hawks between the arcs as he enjoys his best year in the AFL. Entering his 10th season in the competition, Henderson had collected 30 possessions in a game just three times. In the space of six weeks in 2019, he achieved the feat four times and set a new personal best for possessions won three times.
Essendon (A), Sydney (A), West Coast (H), Collingwood (H), Fremantle (H), Geelong (A), Brisbane (H), North Melbourne (A), GWS (A), Gold Coast (H), West Coast (A).
No such thing as an easy draw when you are struggling for consistency like the Hawks are. A few winnable games in there, but a lot will depend on how the players respond after the break. A few wins, but finals look unlikely.
While injuries have been a mitigating factor and a slump may have been expected after over achieving last year, but a game and percentage outside of the eight is never acceptable for Alastair Clarkson’s men.