Hawthorn’s recent AFL mastery of Collingwood continued as Lance Franklin returned from injury to kick four goals in a convincing 35-point win at the MCG on Friday night.
The Hawks’ 18.11 (119) to 12.12 (84) victory, in front of 71,533 fans, strengthened their hold on top spot while leaving fifth-placed Collingwood with next to no hope of breaking into the top four and earning a double chance.
It was Hawthorn’s fifth straight win over the Magpies, all by healthy margins, bursting Collingwood’s form bubble after they had entered the game on a three-match winning streak, including a convincing defeat of Sydney last round.
The Hawks regained three big guns from injury for the match and all three fired.
Franklin had 20 disposals to go with his four majors on return from hamstring soreness.
Captain Luke Hodge, wearing a glove on his right hand to protect an injured thumb, had 22 kicks, many of them piercingly accurate as he constantly set up the Hawks’ rebound from defence.
And running backman Grant Birchall, playing his first game since round 13 after overcoming a knee injury, picked up 26 quality touches.
Midfielders Brad Sewell and Sam Mitchell were also productive, while speedster Cyril Rioli helped set up Hawthorn’s ascendancy with bursts of brilliance and Josh Gibson was very effective in defence.
Sewell had 13 disposals in the first term alone, while Cyril Rioli notched a brilliant soccered goal in that quarter as the Hawks built an 11-point lead at the first change.
Hawthorn kicked the first four goals of the second quarter – two of them set up by Rioli bursting away from packs at speed – to stretch the lead to 34.
Collingwood rallied late in the half, kicking the last three goals, to be within 15 points at halftime.
But the Hawks controlled a scrappy third quarter, after rain made ball-handling trickier, keeping Collingwood goal-less and adding three majors themselves to again push 34 points clear.
The Magpies were not helped by giving up a cheap goal to Franklin, when Tyson Goldsack badly miscued a kick-in, which hit the Hawks star on the chest 40m out.
When Jack Gunston kicked the first goal of the last term, the lead was 41 points and the contest effectively over.
Midfielders Scott Pendlebury, Dane Swan and Dayne Beams were all good for Collingwood, while Nathan Brown blanketed Jarryd Roughead, Travis Cloke (three goals) mostly had the better of Brian Lake and fourth-game ruckman Brodie Grundy continued to impress.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson was pleased to win a finals-like game this close to the finals.
“It gives us a nice reminder of what’s coming in a few weeks’ time,” he said.
“Both sides were really hard at it and I’m really pleased that under that type of finals-type pressure, we were able to stand up.”
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said he felt his side were getting closer to Hawthorn, despite the scoreboard suggesting there was still a substantial gap.
“We haven’t been able to get over Hawthorn over the last 18 months but I dare say that this one feels different to us than the (previous) ones that we’ve played,” he said.
“We expect to be in the mix against anyone going forward.”