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Five talking points: Round 12

afl.com.au  June 10, 2017 5:12 PM

R12: Highlights v Gold Coast The Hawks and Suns clash in round 12

1. The season's alive for the Suns
Two good wins and the Suns are back in contention for a maiden finals berth. The 16-point victory over the Hawks – the second time they've beaten them this season and just their third win in 12 games at the MCG – leaves them a game off the eighth-placed Fremantle, although the Dockers are yet to play this round. Third-gamer and late inclusion Ben Ainsworth was an accidental hero of sorts after he took a terrific mark with seven minutes remaining. The Hawks were coming and within nine points after trailing by as much as 43 in the third quarter when Ainsworth shanked the set shot that followed his mark, but Kaiden Brand's encroach on the protected area gifted him a second chance that he didn't waste – and it was enough to stymie the Hawks' charge. 

2. The Ablett and Mitchell Show: Part II
Last week, it was Gary Ablett and West Coast's Sam Mitchell that combined for 69 disposals. On Saturday, the dual Brownlow medallist again had the ball on a string and this time was one half of a 76-possession haul with Hawthorn's Tom Mitchell. Neither had a dedicated opponent and loosely ran off each other at the stoppages, which allowed for Ablett to collect 21 to half-time and Mitchell 19. They ended with 37 and 39 respectively, and with 11 years between them, it was as equally as impressive to see a veteran of the game and an up-and-comer continue their prolific ball-winning season. 

3. Hawks' veterans make a statement
It's been a bad fortnight for some of the Hawks' older and more experienced players, and while some responded with better performances, others will be looking forward to a week off. Jack Gunston kicked five, including three in the last quarter when the Hawks made their move, while Shaun Burgoyne and Isaac Smith, despite the latter being treated on and off for a sore groin, were much better with 24 and 24 respectively. Ben McEvoy took a nice mark in the third quarter but was beaten around the ground by Jarrod Witts and Josh Gibson didn't do much before finishing at three-quarter time because of a sore groin. Former captain Luke Hodge will join them in anticipating a week off, after the courageous defender was a late withdrawal with groin soreness. 

4. Horror moment for Hall
Gold Coast midfielder Aaron Hall is set for an uncomfortable moment in the Suns' review of the game this week. Seven minutes into the third quarter, the Suns were 22 points up and Hall was running into the forward 50 when the ball was popped up over his head. He ran back with the flight, but pulled out of a phantom contest instead of extending for the ball and it bounced free. Despite his misgivings, he was all on his own and would have lined up for a shot on goal directly in front had he marked. The ball rebounded, and he would have breathed a sigh of relief captain Steven May then used one of his eight intercept possessions to cut off a Hawthorn entry and save an embarrassing consequential goal. 

5. Silence for the Suns
The crowd figure was 27,392, which was the smallest MCG crowd the Hawks have played in front of since round 11, 2014, and reflective of teams ranked 14th and 15th on the ladder facing off on a sunny long-weekend Saturday afternoon in June. The crowd was quieter than usual for the Hawks until they fired in the last quarter, but the Suns are sure to be disappointed with their noticeable lack of support in Melbourne. You could hear a pin drop each time they kicked a goal and their cheer squad was a small pocket of red and yellow fans at the city end of the ground, which was kind of sad for a team fighting to stay in touch with the top eight in a bid for their first finals appearance.