Franklin AFL burst puts Hawks on top
An early Lance Franklin goal burst gave Hawthorn a commanding lead at halftime of their AFL clash with West Coast at the MCG on Friday night.
The Hawks, who could sew up top spot and a home qualifying final with a win, led 10.6 (66) to 4.4 (28) at the main break.
Franklin, who returned from a six-week injury absence last weekend, had four goals, all kicked in the first quarter.
That included two in the game’s first four minutes and he also directly set up two of the Hawks’ three first-term goals he didn’t kick himself, in an extraordinarily dominant display to establish a 34-point quarter-time lead.
The Eagles were clearly feeling the absence of key defender Eric Mackenzie, who would have played on Franklin had he not been forced out by a hamstring injury.
Franklin’s opponent Mitch Brown had his task made tougher by the ease with which the Hawks were able to move the ball through the midfield at times and hit Franklin with precise kicks.
Midfielder Sam Mitchell and running defenders Matt Suckling and Grant Birchall all had strong first halves for the Hawks.
West Coast did not help their cause, with Josh Kennedy, Dean Cox and Jack Darling all missing set shots in the first term.
The visitors applied more defensive pressure in the second term and kicked the first two goals of the quarter.
Both came from Darling, the second a brilliant 55m shot under pressure 15 minutes into the quarter.
Paul Puopolo replied for the Hawks, after Beau Waters coughed up the ball in defence, but when Will Schofield marked and goaled for the Eagles early in time-on, they were within four goals.
But Hawthorn kicked the last 2.2 of the term to reach the long break in firm control.
They were yet to use Cyril Rioli, who started as the substitute in his return from a shoulder injury.
The Hawks were confident Gunston (ankle) and Whitecross (corked thigh) had not sustained injuries of any significance but are resigned to losing Guerra.
“We’ll get that assessed during the week and see what happens, I’m no doctor but it didn’t look good,” coach Alastair Clarkson said.
The Eagles said Kennedy returned to the field late in the match and seemed fine.
Clarkson said the win over the Eagles, combined with the previous round’s tight win over Sydney, was an excellent finals build-up.
“We’ve had two high-quality preparation games for finals, we’ve played two great sides, sides we weren’t able to get over the line against earlier in the season,” he said.
“It was a finals-type intensity, lots of pressure and great tackling by both sides.”
Eagles coach John Worsfold was disappointed with his side’s early intensity, but believed there was plenty to take from the performance.
“It’s great stuff tonight to learn from and that will make us a little bit better,” he said.© AAP 2013
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