Hawks in box seat to secure finals berth
IT WOULD be enough to make long-suffering Carlton supporters sick in the stomach.
There are only a few finishing touches left to be put on Alastair Clarkson's one-year rebuild at Hawthorn.
Saturday night's 63-point win over the Western Bulldogs puts the Hawks in the box seat to take part in an eighth finals campaign in nine years.
Last year's 12th place finish looks set to be the only trough during what has otherwise been an incredibly prosperous period.
Hawthorn now has nine wins to its name and a favourable run home to come.
Matches against bottom-six sides Brisbane, Carlton and Fremantle await over the next three weeks.
Win those as expected and the Hawks will only need one 'W' from their final four against Essendon, Geelong, St Kilda and Sydney to set sail for September.
Is Clarkson's side a genuine premiership threat this season? You wouldn't think so.
But you couldn't give them a 'making up the numbers' tag, either.
Four of their six losses have come by 15 points or less against finals contenders Richmond (13 points), Sydney (eight points), West Coast (15 points) and Greater Western Sydney (11 points).
Their two biggest losses have, strangely, come against Brisbane (56 points) and North Melbourne (28 points).
The Hawks named the equal-most players with 150 games or more of experience this round with nine, a figure matched only by Port Adelaide.
The Bulldogs found out all about that experience on Saturday night as Luke Breust produced a four-goal first quarter and six-goal game.
Then, after trailing by two-points at halftime, fellow premiership heroes Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston stepped up to produce inspirational third quarters as Hawthorn surged ahead.
Led by a premiership hero of their own in Jason Johannisen, who racked up 25 disposals in a stunning first half, the Bulldogs had looked sharp early.
They retained possession through short kicks and uncontested marks and created opportunities forward through unlikely sources Lachie Hunter and Mitch Wallis, who each kicked two goals before the main break.
But when the Hawks took the game up a gear, the Bulldogs simply could not go with them, completely losing their way in the second half not for the first time this season.
While experience shines, Hawthorn's mix of youth among the big names also continue to play their roles.
There were 10 players with under 100 games to their name on Saturday night, 46th gamer Daniel Howe the pick of the bunch with 25 disposals, eight marks and a goal.
Then there was 14th gamer Harry Morrison, who was given the job of shutting down Johannisen in the second half, the Bulldog recording just seven touches after his blistering opening hour.
Their season over long ago, Western Bulldogs will miss finals for a second-straight year since their 2016 premiership success.
Sustained success is hard to achieve in the AFL, but it seems Clarkson has the magic touch.
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