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Five talking points: R16

R16: Ben Stratton Post-Match Stratts had a night out in defence and he spoke with HawksTV after the win.

1. Third quarter proves as decisive as expected
The Dogs kicked three of the last four goals before half-time to lead by two points at the main break, but Hawks fans were understandably optimistic their team would produce a match-defining spurt after the break. Hawthorn entered the game as the second-best third-quarter team in the AFL with a +145 differential, while the Bulldogs were the second-worst at -152 – and both teams performed true to form. In fact, the contrast between the teams this time was even starker. The Hawks flicked the switch in emphatic style, piling on 7.4 to just one behind to race to an impregnable 43-point lead by three-quarter time. In doing so, they kept themselves firmly in finals contention.

Read: Match report - Hawks v Bulldogs

2. Cool Hand Luke’s huge first quarter
Hawthorn sharpshooter Luke Breust got away to a flyer with the first goal of the game, but better was to come later in the term. With the Hawks trailing by 13 points, Breust nailed another three majors in the space of 10 minutes to help his side to an 11-point lead by the first break and its best first quarter of the season. The 27-year-old added another in the second term, courtesy of a dubious free kick, and equaled his career-high tally of six by the early stages of the third term. Breust had a couple of chances to get what would have been his first seven-goal haul but missed tough shots from the boundary on either foot. His forward partner Jack Gunston returned to the side and contributed four goals, while skipper Jarryd Roughead had a quiet first half but came to life with four majors of his own.

3. JJ’s electrifying first half
As brilliant as Breust was in the first half, Jason Johannisen was possibly better. The speedy half-back enjoyed a phenomenal opening 60 minutes, amassing 25 possessions (including 17 kicks), 17 handball receives and two goal assists. At that stage ‘JJ’ had been at his creative best with his running from the back half and his penetrating kicking. He was on track to eclipse his career-high effort of 35 touches, but was nullified after the break, managing just seven more disposals. But he wasn’t alone in a young team that was swept aside by a more experienced opponent.

4. Big Ben cops a big hit
Hawthorn ruckman Ben McEvoy was enjoying a terrific night, helping the Hawks vastly improve their clearance work after they were below-par in that area the previous week against the Giants. However, when the game was sewn up in the last quarter, ‘Big Boy’ McEvoy’s evening took a turn for the worse when he had a head clash with Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley as they attacked a ground ball. Both players went down but Dunkley soon regained his feet and was able to play out the game. McEvoy came off second best. An egg-sized lump appeared on the side of his face and he was soon placed in an ambulance to be taken to hospital.

5. Sicily – an exasperating and exhilarating talent
The Hawks like when James Sicily plays on the edge, but not so much when he trips over it, such as he did 20 minutes into the game. With Hawthorn trailing by seven points, Bulldogs forward Billy Gowers was in front of Sicily inside the arc. Dog Shane Biggs jogged up and invaded Sicily’s personal space and the Hawk, in an apparent effort to draw a free kick, dragged Biggs down with him. The result was a 50-mere penalty and a gimme-goal to the Dogs, after which Sicily was summoned to the bench where he received some stern words from coach Alastair Clarkson over the phone. That blunder aside, the defensive playmaker performed to his usual high standard as a rebounding, intercepting defender.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs