JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Hawks lose hunger

Date

Robert Walls

Cyril Rioli's lack of consistency has been highlighted by his teammates' apparent lack of willingness to contest possession.

Cyril Rioli's lack of consistency has been highlighted by his teammates' apparent lack of willingness to contest possession. Photo: Paul Rovere

HAWTHORN has lost the desire to win the contested ball.

In the final stages of last weekend's loss to Sydney, the Hawks looked completely dispirited as they went through the motions and waited for the final siren to put them out of their misery.

The Swans were good, but the Hawks were embarrassing as they rolled over to concede the last seven goals of the game.

There was a time when an opposition ball-carrier would be swamped, but the Hawks' statistics in hard-ball gets and contested possessions have plummeted.

There was a time when an opposition ball-carrier would be swamped, but the Hawks' statistics in hard-ball gets and contested possessions have plummeted. Photo: Paul Rovere

With just two wins to their credit, and sitting 11th on the ladder, the Hawks face a tough but not impossible climb to reach top spot - a position many felt they could achieve just six weeks ago.

They have to change their ways if they are to play in this year's grand final. The opposition has negated their game plan. Last year, Alastair Clarkson's men finished the season running hot. Going into the preliminary final against Collingwood, they had won 16 of 19 games. They lost the preliminary final by three points, in a game Clarkson believed they should have won. He was angry because he felt his players weren't desperate to the end.

Their success was built around a game plan of possession. They denied the opposition the ball by executing bold, bullet-like short passes. When a Hawk had the ball, his teammates would run into space and dozens of uncontested marks were being taken all over the field. And when they had sliced their way through the opposition's forward press, Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli finished off with aplomb.

The return of captain and general Luke Hodge is one promising sign for the lacklustre Hawks.

The return of captain and general Luke Hodge is one promising sign for the lacklustre Hawks. Photo: Paul Rovere

Stoppages were not a problem, either. The Hawks were much better than average at winning the hard ball and forcing clearances. Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell, Jordan Lewis, Luke Hodge and Liam Shiels led the way in grunt accumulation. In short, they were smart, skilful and tough.

But over summer, too many Hawks, it appears, thought that winning easy uncontested ball was the way to go. They lost the hunger for the contest.

And, of course, the opposition has realised you can't let the Hawks run free. You have to be accountable on them. Now, they are going one-on-one against the brown and gold, instead of setting up zones.

<p></p>

It came to a head on Sunday when Sydney, the most disciplined, accountable team of all, refused to give the Hawks space, and ensured that if they were to win the ball, it had to be in a contest situation. A lot of Hawks didn't like that. By game's end, Franklin had conceded to Ted Richards, his opponent for the day, and Rioli did the same to Rhyce Shaw.

The stats tell the story. Last year, Hawthorn was first for short kicks and uncontested marks. This year, it ranks seventh. Average short kicks per game have fallen from 109 to 77. And marks taken on the lead have dropped from third best to second worst.

What will also be alarming to Clarkson and his coaching staff is the massive drop-off in clearances, contested possessions and hard-ball gets. Last year, the Hawks were top six in all of these areas. In 2012, they are bottom six. Clarkson has reinvented himself as a coach several times before. In his eighth year at the helm, he has to do it again.

The good news for Hawthorn is its captain, Hodge, is back after missing the first month of football. He will lead the way in aggression and giving all-out effort.

Also, for the first time in a long time, the Hawks will be on notice that they need to play hard football.

Who would have thought? That nasty, unsociable premiership team of 2008 just got too nice and comfortable.

19 comments

  • Wallsy, you're spot on in your assessment. I was at the game on Sunday and after half time Hawthorn gave up the ghost. There was no zoning by Sydney. It was all man on man, and the Hawks didn't know what to do. Sydney were more aggressive at stoppages and either had an extra man at the end of a passage of handballs or else they just threw the ball on their boot and forced it forward quickly. I felt that for the first time in a long time, Hawthorn were categorically outcoached. Clarko & co will have to work out what to do when the Hawkers are choked for space and unable to gain a yard or two on their opponents. There was virtually no sideways movement at all after half time as players fell into the Sydney trap of just kicking down the lines. From a spectator's view, the game was ugly, as most of the time almost all of the players were within 30 metres of the ball, much like the little leaguers at halftime. And Hawthorn just had no answer for this choking, congested style of football.

    Commenter
    Stitchy
    Location
    Yallambie
    Date and time
    May 04, 2012, 9:31AM
    • Bang on there Stitchy and Wallsy. Everyone I've talked to about the game also said the same thing, that Clarko was outcoached. We need to be able to adapt when things are not going the way we want, and always harder at the ball. Hopefully Hodgey will give us some grit and grunt because we have lost that these last few games.

      Commenter
      MC
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 10:01AM
    • Stitchy, you've only talked about the match against Sydney. Robert's talking about the entire season so far... I think you've missed the point he was trying to make about the Hawks!

      This whole article actually makes me laugh. It's so badly witten that even if any of the points raised had any merit, they'd go unnoticed by any intelligent person.
      Hate to break it to you Robert, but we're only up to round 6. Those stats you've raised from last year were based upon the entire season. There's your first fail.
      Your second fail was to ignore the names of the actual teams Hawthorn have played in the last few weeks.
      If you studied the ladder a little more closely, you may have noticed that the current top teams have played some of the weakest teams in the competition (there's been some recent talk of how the season's fixture can work for or against a team over the course of the year).

      I agree the Hawks fell asleep in the last half against Sydney, but to get this dramatic this soon is a joke.

      Why don't you write a real piece of journalism instead of acting like the Hawthorn football team have done you some great, personal injustice? Some of your sentences were embarrassing.

      Commenter
      What team do you go for?
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 10:08AM
    • From this spectators point of view, the game was awesome!

      The Swans kicked 100+ points in a stunning 57 point turn-around after half-time -- nothing "ugly" or "congested" about that.

      If you want "sideways" movement, head to the beach and watch the crabs. I prefer the ball to be moving straight towards goals, ideally with long kicks and run & carry, like what the Swans did on Sunday.

      I would say that the only "choking" that occurred was by the Hawks. But they didn't choke, they were outplayed by a better team.

      Commenter
      Bring the Noise
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 10:15AM
    • fact is, if we are talking facts 'what team do you go for', is that the sydney game highlighted what also went wrong against geelong (and possibly WCE- (tho i do not make a habit of watching wce OR Hawthorn games except when they are playing 'proper' teams (LOL)) is that Hawthorn tossed in the towel when it mattered most. It shows that what happened in the prelim last year is NOT just about this year but possibly a long standing problem and add to that that other teams ARE playing them one on one (as the cats and swannies did) they are going to fall over more often. I do NOT LIKE being wrong usually, but am glad to say i think I might have been wrong thinking hawthorn were going finish top and in the GF. might be a great Sydney v Geelong battle yet!!

      Commenter
      sMusic
      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 10:44AM
  • It's not that Hawks have 'lost' their hunger. Their style of uncontested football and accurate kicking has meant that they have not required the use of contested football.

    Now that teams have worked out how Geelong play the man-on-man defense against the Hawks, things are getting more difficult for them.

    Problem is, that if the Hawks do improve on the contested football, their master plan of kicking to a one-out will break down a bit. Sort of caught in a catch-22. It would be advisable for the Hawks to actually come up with a way to get the contested football in another way. With the 5 seconds I've thought about it, the easiest way would be a corell & tackle approach. Use the man-on-man against the opponent by ensuring the next kick or handball becomes a stoppage.

    I'm not sure that it would work, but it would be more advisable to do that than to change their gameplan.

    Commenter
    Kongming
    Date and time
    May 04, 2012, 10:00AM
    • Also agree with the article. The Hawk's problem is above the neck - I don't think that they think they are good enough. They are certainly not ruthless enough.
      The constant losses to Geelong, despite the bullying arrogance of Stevie J et.al., I think have knocked the team's self-belief.
      Until they recover that and then commit to imposing themselves on their opponent like the Cats do, and keeping their foot on the oppositions neck once they've got them down then they're not Premiership contenders.
      I hope they do find that mixture of toughness at the ball and ruthless finishing, if not I doubt they'll even make the top 4.

      Commenter
      Russell
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 10:36AM
      • hawks have a powerful foreward line, yet they are never home, how many times they go into attack and have to abort and kick backwards, or will not kick to a one to one contest, time and time again it happens. why would clarkson not play to their strength. very poor coaching, he is too interested in his own reputation as a strategically smart coach to the point that he has lost the point on how to play basic football. REMEMBER, THE PLAYERS PLAY THE WAY THEY ARE COACHED, and the way they are coached is not the way finals football is played and thats why they fall short against top sides most of the time

        Commenter
        tassiehawk
        Date and time
        May 04, 2012, 10:48AM
        • 100% agree...too soft, no passion, zero commitment.

          I'm a Hawks member and what I'm seeing is worrying!!

          If the Hawks bend over this weekend to the Saints, Clarkson should be sacked, and some of the big names should be sent to the 2's....a message needs to be sent

          Commenter
          john
          Location
          Melb
          Date and time
          May 04, 2012, 11:07AM
          • What team do you go for? - spot on - selective use of stats at its finest.. look credit to sydney but its early days yet...

            Clarkson simply has to drop players that aren't showing the hunger for the contest. its not like they don't have options outside the 22.

            Commenter
            mick
            Date and time
            May 04, 2012, 11:21AM

            More comments

            Comments are now closed

            Related Coverage

            AFL 2015

            Round 1
            Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
            CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
            Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
            MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
            SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
            BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
            WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
            Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
            STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
            ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
            FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
            Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
            HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 2
            Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
            WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
            Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
            RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
            GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
            COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
            GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
            PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
            Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
            GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
            ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
            NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 3
            Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
            COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
            Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
            CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
            ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
            SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
            NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
            BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
            Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
            HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
            GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
            WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 4
            Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
            RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
            Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
            STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
            ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
            GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
            PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
            FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
            Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
            BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
            GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
            WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 5
            Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
            CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
            Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
            RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
            SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
            GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
            NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
            WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
            Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
            MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
            STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
            ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 6
            Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
            COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
            Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
            NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
            WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
            GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
            GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
            MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
            FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
            Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
            CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
            PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 7
            Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
            ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
            Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
            ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
            HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
            CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
            SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
            WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
            Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
            WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
            RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
            BRI 102 vs PTA 65 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 8
            Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
            GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Report Stats
            Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
            STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
            GWS 108 vs ADE 84 Report Stats
            GCF 63 vs COL 132 Report Stats
            HAW 69 vs SYD 73 Report Stats
            FRE 115 vs NTH 42 Report Stats
            Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
            ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
            MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
            PTA 43 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 9
            Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
            Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
            HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
            MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
            WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
            RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
            ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
            Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs STK 13:10G
            COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
            WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 10
            Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
            FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
            Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
            CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
            GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
            ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
            PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
            Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
            GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
            NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
            STK vs HAW 16:40ES
            Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
            MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
            View All Fixtures
            Round 11
            Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
            PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
            Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
            GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
            WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
            NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
            Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
            COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
            STK vs MEL 16:40ES
            View All Fixtures
            Round 12
            Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
            ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
            Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
            RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
            Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
            CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
            GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
            WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
            Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
            GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
            View All Fixtures
            Round 13
            Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
            FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
            Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
            Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
            HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
            BRI vs ADE 16:35G
            STK vs WBU 19:20ES
            Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
            CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
            View All Fixtures
            Round 14
            Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
            Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
            COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
            Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
            RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
            GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
            WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
            MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
            Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
            ESS vs STK 13:10ES
            ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
            FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 15
            Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
            PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
            Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
            RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
            Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
            ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
            WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
            NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
            WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
            Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
            GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
            HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
            BRI vs SYD 16:40G
            View All Fixtures
            Round 16
            Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
            NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
            Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
            GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
            GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
            COL vs WCE 16:35ES
            SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
            FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
            Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
            MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
            PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
            STK vs RIC 16:40ES
            View All Fixtures
            Round 17
            Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
            CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
            Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
            GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
            ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
            RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
            ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
            BRI vs NTH 19:20G
            Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
            WBU vs COL 13:10ES
            MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
            WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 18
            Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
            HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
            Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
            GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
            COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
            SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
            CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
            GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
            Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
            PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
            ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
            FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 19
            Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
            ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
            Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
            COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
            WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
            BRI vs GCF 16:35G
            GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
            WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
            Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
            MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
            GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
            STK vs FRE 16:40ES
            View All Fixtures
            Round 20
            Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
            Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
            ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
            NTH vs STK 14:10BA
            PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
            GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
            BRI vs CAR 19:20G
            Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
            RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
            WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
            FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 21
            Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
            HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
            Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
            COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
            GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
            GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
            STK vs GEE 19:20ES
            ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
            Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
            NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
            CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
            WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 22
            Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
            GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
            Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
            GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
            HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
            NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
            ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
            GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
            Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
            ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
            STK vs SYD 15:20ES
            FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 23
            Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
            COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
            RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
            HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
            GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
            SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
            MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
            BRI vs WBU 00:00G
            PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
            WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            AFL 2015
            Overall standings
            Team P W L D % Pts
            Fremantle 8 8 0 0 155.29 32
            West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
            Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
            GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
            Collingwood 8 5 3 0 129.90 20
            Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
            Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
            Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
            View all
             
            Featured advertisers