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Match report: R16

Team song: Hawthorn Watch the Hawks celebrate their round 16 win

HAPPY days are here again for Hawthorn after an emphatic 63-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

A pall of gloom had been hovering over the club and its supporters after champion forward Cyril Rioli announced his premature retirement on Wednesday, but a brilliant outing against the in-form Bulldogs leaves the Hawks (9-6) back in the eight with several winnable games to come.

The 19.8 (122) to 9.5 (59) win was set up with a scintillating third quarter, during which the Hawks slammed on 7.4 to 0.1 to turn a two-point half-time deficit into a 43-point lead. It might have been their most impressive quarter of the season. 

Hawthorn’s forward line has struggled for much of the year, but was on song on Saturday night, with Luke Breust kicking an equal career-best six goals (four in the first quarter), while Jarryd Roughead (four) and Jack Gunston (four) also hit the scoreboard. It was the first time since round two that the Hawks have kicked more than 100 points in a game.

More significantly is that their percentage jumped from 113.2 to 118.1.

The Hawks were given an armchair ride through the middle with ruckman Ben McEvoy dominant and allowing Isaac Smith (30), Liam Shiels (29), Jaeger O’Meara (28) and Daniel Howe (25) to run riot. Howe’s effort was all the more meritorious given he also had the job on Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli, who had 23 possessions but little impact.

Brownlow favourite Tom Mitchell was reasonably well held by Josh Dunkley but still finished with 27 touches.

But Hawthorn’s clearance and contested possession numbers would have thrilled coach Alastair Clarkson, after such a poor effort in that area last week against Greater Western Sydney. 

The Dogs (5-10) were at their best in the second term, with Jason Johannisen providing enormous drive off half-back with 16 possessions. He had 25 until half-time, but like so many of his teammates, struggled to make an impact as the Hawks took charge after the long interval. 

Spearhead Josh Schache presented well early, but he faded and for much of the night the Dogs really had to scrounge their goals, with Hawk defenders Ben Stratton, James Sicily and James Frawley well on top.

Johannisen finished with 32 touches, while youngsters Lachie Hunter (26), Toby McLean (24) and Brad Lynch (23) battled hard. Mitch Wallis continues to find a new lease of life as a small forward and led his side with three goals.

But it was a disappointing night for the Bulldogs and they can officially start thinking about Mad Monday and booking those September holidays, because they won’t be playing finals in 2018.

MEDICAL ROOM

Western Bulldogs: Lachie Hunter left the ground in the final quarter with a leg injury, while Rising Star candidate Aaron Naughton hobbled off with a lower leg injury.

Hawthorn: Ben McEvoy left the ground in the final quarter after (yet another) head clash that drew blood. He went straight into the rooms and might be in some doubt for next week. Howe was rested in the final term after hurting his knee in the second term.

NEXT UP
The Bulldogs face Melbourne in a twilight game at the MCG next Saturday, while just a few hours before, the Hawks host Brisbane Lions in their final Launceston game for the year.

WESTERN BULLDOGS             4.1   7.4    7.5   9.5   (59)                  
HAWTHORN                           6.0   7.2   14.6  19.8   (122)          

GOALS
Western Bulldogs: Wallis 3, Hunter 2, Schache, Gowers, Biggs, Daniel
Hawthorn: Breust 6, Roughead 4, Gunston 4, Smith 2, Morrison, O’Meara, Howe

BEST 
Western Bulldogs: Johannisen, Hunter, McLean, Dunkley, Crozier
Hawthorn: Breust, Gunston, O’Meara, Howe, Smith, Sicily, Shiels

INJURIES 
Western Bulldogs: Hunter (ankle), Naughton (ankle)
Hawthorn: McEvoy (head)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Harris, McInerney

Official crowd: 35,320 at Etihad Stadium

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