Chad’s super debut has shades of Cyril
IT'S the Cyril Rioli theory.
The Hawthorn champion never had to gather many possession to put his stamp on a game.
And it was the case again on Sunday as the man Hawthorn recruited to replace him, deep forward Chad Wingard, turned on a blinder in the last quarter to lead the Hawks to a thrilling 16-point win over North Melbourne.
Right when the Hawks needed a hero, the new recruit threaded a tight-angled set shot from the boundary line and then spun miraculously through a bunch of players to snap another gem in the last-term burst.
While Wingard gathered only five touches in the first three quarters, his late heroics, including a desperate tackle to stop Robbie Tarrant, made sure his first game in brown and gold went down as a tick.
"Chad only needs five or six touches, he is a little bit like (Cyril) Rioli he doesn't need much of the footy to turn the game your way," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said.
"He is an electric player and he gets his teammates up because of the special things he can do, so it was great for him."
Despite brave efforts from North pair Ben Cunnington and Shaun Higgins, Hawthorn's class was the difference as it overcame a poor start to control the game after quarter-time.
Sharpshooter Luke Breust brushed off an early back problem to bang home five goals including a brilliant 40m dart across his body early in the nailbiting last term to break North's hopes.
Jaeger O'Meara also overcame a hip issue to lead a depleted engine room, while James Sicily starred in the last term to put last week's free kick controversy behind him.
O'Meara would be leading the club's best-and-fairest after three rounds and without injured pair Liam Shiels and Shaun Burgoyne the former Gold Coast Sun played a huge hand in the comeback victory.
Clarkson said Breust (tight back) and O'Meara (hip) were "lion-hearted" leading the Hawks to victory under duress after leaving the ground early for medical treatment.
The big question for Hawthorn is whether the undermanned midfield can continue to hold up with so much relying on O'Meara and James Worpel, but Ricky Henderson continues to play an important cameo role.
For the winless Roos, centre clearances continue to be a massive problem.
They have been badly beaten there and yesterday the Hawks won the count 15-9.
Spearhead Ben Brown was shut out of the game after a bright start.
The Kangaroos will rue a costly period late in the third term.
Tarrant committed the ultimate sin when he missed an open teammate in the middle of the ground with a 30m pass.
The ball sailed over his head and was mopped up by Blake Hardwick who set up Henderson with a clever give-and-go.
Henderson nailed the 40m shot on the run on a 45-degree angle to put the Hawks nine points ahead.
Minutes later down the other end, Roos' skipper Jack Ziebell missed two set shots from 30m and 40m from straight in front.
TWELVE IN A ROW
It's not often we see Hawthorn get belted like this.
After conceding eight-straight late goals to the Western Bulldogs last week, Alastair Clarkson would not have been happy as a red-hot North Melbourne slammed home the first four of the match in a one-sided first term yesterday.
Roos' No.4 draft pick Luke Davies-Uniacke, in particular, sparkled in the early stanza hitting up Brown and Ziebell with beautifully weighted passes.
But the young gun faded out of the match after the first term.
Hawks' wingman Isaac Smith reeled in a gutsy grab late in the term and slotted through a 40m set shot to halt the run of goals against them.
We may have season the tackle of the season so far.
North Melbourne hard nut Kayne Turner ran 25m through the centre square to poleaxe new Hawthorn defender Jack Scrimshaw at full speed.
Scrimshaw tried to duck out of the way at the last second but was driven hard into the turf in the second-term clash.
Turner, 23, isn't a big ball-winner but his tackle pressure is what gets him a game each week.
The Hawks lost another key player when former captain and key forward Jarryd Roughead was withdrawn late with a corked quad.
Roughead didn't look happy last week but still booted two goals from 11 touches in the loss to the Western Bulldogs last week.
The gun veteran was replaced by hard-running midfield-forward debutant Dylan Moore, who worked hard but had a quiet day.
NEW RULES CAUSING UNCERTAINTY
Clarkson believes the new rules are playing a major role in the wild unpredictability of the season.
He said the Hawks were briefly caught off-guard by North Melbourne's kick-and-catch game style in the first term.
Clarkson said clubs faced some challenges working out their best game style as they adjusted to some major rule changes over summer, including the new starting position setup.
He said some of those new rule interpretations "might have even cost us the game" last week against the Western Bulldogs.
"With so many rule changes, we are all flying blind a little bit while we work out how the game is going to be played," Clarkson said.
"We were flying very blind in the first 15 minutes of this game, until we were able to establish what was going on and then we corrected and played a lot better after then.
"We aren't setting the world on fire with the way we are playing right at the moment, but as we've seen it's a pretty tight competition and two wins and one loss isn't too bad."
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said Hawthorn's finishing was the difference.
"I thought we were pretty good around the ball for the most part of the day," Scott said.
"But they were able to convert a little bitter and if you simplify it right down, Breust kicks five and Wingard kicks three (majors). They're pretty good players and they don't miss.
"We've just got to hang in there. It's a long season, it's been a tough start for us, but the competition is see-sawing all over the place at the minute."
HAWTHORN 1.2 5.3 8.6 13.9 (87)
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.3 6.6 7.11 10.11 (71)
Hawthorn: Breust 5, Wingard 3, McEvoy 2, Smith, Nash, Henderson
North Melbourne: Ziebell 2, Dumont 2, Brown, Scott, Turner, Higgins, Polec, Hall
Hawthorn: Breust, O'Meara, Henderson, McEvoy, Smith, Frawley
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Higgins, Macmillan, Ziebell, Dumont
Hawthorn: Roughead (corked thigh) replaced in selected side by Moore, O'Meara (hip), Breust (back)
North Melbourne: Nil
Umpires: Ryan, O'Gorman, Brown
Official crowd: 36,174 at the MCG
3. Luke Breust
2. Jaeger O'Meara
1. Ben Cunnington