Hawks rebound with giant win
WAS this the genius of Alastair Clarkson again?
In a big week at Waverley, the premiership mastermind first said the Hawks were just a "middle of the road side" and then at selection, he dropped beloved veteran Jarryd Roughead.
As harsh as the move seemed, perhaps it had the desired result.
Clarkson's troops responded, notching their best win of the season, grinding down premiership fancy Greater Western Sydney by 33 points at the MCG.
And that was without star wingman Isaac Smith, who was a late withdrawal with a foot injury.
The Hawks delivered a masterful defensive performance as James Frawley, Ben Stratton and Blake Hardwick helped keep red-hot spearhead Jeremy Cameron goalless.
The Hawks got extra numbers back in play, helping choke the Giants, who managed only one goal in the second half and five majors for the day.
Veteran Ricky Henderson had another excellent game and could be leading the club's best-and-fairest award, while James Sicily is in early All-Australian contention and livewire Jarman Impey fired at both ends.
Matt De Boer kept Jaeger O'Meara quiet, while Josh Kelly, Jacob Hopper and Heath Shaw battled manfully for the Giants.
The Giants were sloppy with their skills but you would also have to question their attitude in what was otherwise a chance to make a strong statement at the MCG.
"They haven't been switched on," former senior coach Rodney Eade said on Triple M.
It was another poor performance from the Giants, who were stunned by Fremantle by 24 points in Canberra only three weeks ago.
Back-up Hawthorn ruckman Jon Ceglar was important in the fourth term, slotting two goals inside five minutes to start the last quarter and seal the win.
James Frawley was reported for rough conduct for an awkward incident with Coleman medal leader Cameron.
Cameron was travelling at speed across the boundary line when Frawley gave him a nudge straight into the fence.
Cameron ploughed hard into the LED signage and went straight to the ground, cradling his already taped-up left shoulder.
The star Giant got up 30 seconds later and missed the set shot and played on. Frawley apologised moments later.
Cometh the moment, cometh the young Hawks.
Key forward Mitch Lewis was a speculative late-round flyer when he was taken with pick No.76 two and a half years ago.
But the talented junior golfer and long-term Roughead replacement stepped up big time when he slotted a clutch set shot late in the third term.
Lewis, 20, led on to a brilliant pass from Jack Gunston and threaded a tight angle from 50m out near the boundary line.
James Cousins, 21, also played a big hand helping extend Hawthorn's lead in the third term with nine touches for the quarter.
He intercepted an errant Giants' hand pass at half-forward and nailed a goal on the run to put the Hawks up by 22 points at the last change.
This was some blooper.
Usually so clean with the footy, Liam Shiels looked certain to kick a goal from two metres out as he swooped out on a bouncing ball.
But the star Hawk fumbled the footy at point-blank range and instead soccered the ball off his shin through for one behind in the third term.
Teammate Jack Gunston, who was all alone in the goalsquare, looked like he couldn't believe what had just happened.
Hawthorn's veterans would be feeling nervous after Roughead's demotion to the twos. And there was plenty of spring in Paul Puopolo's step early.
The wrecking ball came out hard, making one of chase-downs of the season when he caught Heath Shaw holding the footy near the boundary line, in the first term.
Puopolo then flew high in the second term to reel in a nice mark, but sprayed the set shot.
Jay Clark's votes: 3. James Sicily, 2. Ricky Henderson, 1. Josh Kelly
Hawthorn: Sicily, Henderson, Impey, Stratton, Frawley, Cousins, Worpel, Ceglar.
Fremantle: Kelly, Shaw, De Boer, Hopper, Finlayson