Hawks to second in AFL with win over Suns
Hawthorn overcame determined resistance from Gold Coast and the absence of four key players to capitalise on an ideal weekend for the AFL club.
The Hawks belted the Suns in the last term on Sunday at the MCG to win by 64 points, 19.15 (129) to 10.5 (65).
It was far from Hawthorn’s best football, but the win meant they rose from fourth to second with two rounds left.
They went past Collingwood and Adelaide on the ladder after those two teams suffered upset losses on Saturday night.
As coach Alastair Clarkson noted, the Hawks now control their own destiny as they prepare for massive games against top side Sydney and then fifth-placed West Coast before the finals.
Hawthorn are one game behind Sydney and have the best percentage in the top eight.
The Hawks were missing Sam Mitchell, Josh Gibson and Cyril Rioli through injury, while star forward Lance Franklin also pulled out when he fell ill on Saturday night.
Franklin has now been out of action for six weeks and Hawthorn will be desperate that he is fit for Saturday’s clash against the Swans.
The Suns outscored Hawthorn in the third term as young key forward Steven May starred with three goals and they only trailled by 29 points at the last change.
But Hawthorn finally went up a gear, kicking seven goals to two in the last quarter.
“With the amount of ball we had and the amount of dominance we had from clearances, we should have been able to do some more scoreboard damage,” Clarkson said.
“But really, all you’re searching for at this stage of the year is continue to clock up the wins.
“We’ve continued to do that and we get ourselves ready now for a big contest against Sydney.”
Clarkson noted that Hawthorn’s round-five loss to Sydney in Launceston was one of the low points of their season, saying the second half was “dreadful”.
The Hawks coach was animated at three-quarter time on Sunday and he said that was partly because it was a symbolic game for the club.
It was their annual Kokoda match, where Hawthorn honours the Australian soldiers who fought a vital battle against Japan in New Guinea during World War II.
“That was mentioned, yeah – it’s a big day for our club,” Clarkson said.
A big plus for Hawthorn was captain Luke Hodge, who was high among their best in his fourth game back from a lengthy injury layoff.
Suns coach Guy McKenna said his second-bottom team had put up a solid effort against the Hawks.
“We were better off attacking the game rather than sitting back on our heels,” McKenna said.
“Early in that last quarter, we just lost our mojo at times.
“The theme was … being honest with your effort, I really couldn’t fault them.”
– May shines for Suns
Whatever becomes of Steven May’s football career, he will fondly remember his first AFL match on the MCG.
The key position player was Gold Coast’s best player on Sunday in the 64-point loss to Hawthorn, taking 12 marks and kicking three goals.
They were also May’s first goals at this level.
Coach Guy McKenna said they had tried May in attack before, but to no effect.
As McKenna noted, on Sunday the planets aligned for the 20-year-old.
May dominated from the start, to the point that Hawthorn had to move Ryan Schoenmakers back into defence after halftime.
Like May, Schoenmakers was moved from defence into attack for this game and was doing well, kicking two goals in the first half.
But May’s form caused Hawthorn genuine concern.
“We were really impressed with the way that May played up forward,” said Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson.© AAP 2013
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