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Match report: Gutsy Hawks prevail

R8: Cousins steal and goal James Cousins hits the legs to intercept the ball and then kicks for 6 point late in the third.

A committed Hawthorn continued Greater Western Sydney's miserable MCG record and provisionally returned to the top eight with a 33-point victory on Sunday.

The Hawks started the game trying to avoid a fourth defeat in five contests, but led from the time midfield star Jaeger O'Meara nailed a 45m set shot inside the opening five minutes.

They matched the Giants in the clinches, strangled their ball movement and crowded their defensive 50 before putting the visitors to the sword in a dominant second half.

Watch: Lewis perfection

Only seven points separated the teams at half-time, but four consecutive Hawthorn goals either side of three-quarter time put paid to the GWS challenge en route to a 10.11 (71) to 5.8 (38) triumph.

Jeremy Finlayson spared the Giants some blushes when he slotted his third major late in the contest to ensure his side wasn't held goalless in the second half.

However, it was still GWS's lowest tally since it scored 4.7 (31) in round 15, 2012, also against the Hawks.

The result followed a difficult week at Waverley Park, with former captain Jarryd Roughead demoted to the VFL, where he responded with five goals earlier on Sunday.

Returning ruckman Jon Ceglar ended any hope the Giants had entering the final quarter – when they trailed by 22 points – with a pair of strong marks and goals in barely four minutes.

GWS has now lost 14 of its 16 trips to the MCG, a place Leon Cameron's men will need to become better accustomed to if they are to make a dent in September.

There were positive Hawthorn stories everywhere, including coach Alastair Clarkson's inspired move to swing Jarman Impey forward in Chad Wingard's absence.

Impey, who was enjoying an excellent campaign down back, kicked two of the Hawks' three first-term goals to kickstart the club's afternoon.

Former Crow Ricky Henderson was another of Hawthorn's strong early performers, amassing 10 of his 36 disposals by quarter-time and never letting up in his latest outstanding effort.

Henderson had to wait until almost the last moment to secure a fresh contract last year but might be leading the Hawks' best and fairest through eight rounds.

James Frawley returned to the brown and gold line-up this week after three games out recovering from a hamstring injury, and kept Coleman Medal leader Jeremy Cameron goalless.

Cameron finished the day with 11 disposals and four behinds, a significant setback to his bid to become the first player to kick 100 goals since Lance Franklin in 2008.

Emerging Hawks midfielder James Cousins won a career-high 25 disposals and kicked a wonderful goal on the run just on three-quarter time, while Mitch Lewis again showed promising signs in attack.

Most Giants struggled with ball in hand, which only further highlighted the effectiveness of Hawks Shaun Burgoyne, James Sicily and Blake Hardwick.

Josh Kelly was the biggest reason GWS was still in the contest at the main break, winning 15 disposals and four clearances to that stage.

He wasn't quite able to maintain that pace, but was still one of the Giants' best, with Stephen Coniglio warming into the match after a quiet start and Jacob Hopper also serving them well.

MEDICAL ROOM
Hawthorn: Defender Jack Scrimshaw (neck) sat out most of the second half. The Hawks lost Isaac Smith (foot) as a late withdrawal after he first hurt himself in the final quarter last week against Melbourne, with Harry Morrison his replacement.

GWS: Zac Langdon had an ankle strapped at the three-quarter time break and completed some run-throughs on the boundary. Zac Williams (shoulder) returned after coming from the ground in the first quarter, but then copped an accidental knock to the head from one of Tom Scully's knees two terms later. Williams remained down for some time and eventually went into the rooms before re-emerging to play the match out.

NEXT UP
The Hawks will suddenly take some momentum into Sunday's showdown with 2017 premier Richmond, while Greater Western Sydney is back at Giants Stadium to host Carlton later the same day.

HAWTHORN     3.1     5.5     7.9     10.11 (71)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     1.3     4.4     4.5     5.8 (38)

GOALS
Hawthorn: 
Impey 2, Ceglar 2, O'Meara, Gunston, Breust, Lewis, Cousins, Sicily
Greater Western Sydney: Finlayson 3, Greene, Lloyd

BEST
Hawthorn: 
Henderson, Frawley, Sicily, Ceglar, Shiels, Impey, Cousins
Greater Western Sydney: Finlayson, Kelly, Shaw, Coniglio

INJURIES
Hawthorn: 
Nil
Greater Western Sydney: 
Nil

Reports: Frawley (Haw) reported for rough conduct on Cameron (GWS)

Umpires: Foot, Stevic, Gavine

Official crowd: 14,636 at the MCG

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