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Ruthless Hawks play the numbers game


Michael Gleeson

Lance Franklin celebrates a goal during Hawks's big win.

Lance Franklin celebrates a goal during Hawks's big win. Photo: Getty Images

HAWTHORN mercilessly piled on goals against hapless Greater Western Sydney yesterday, determined to seize the moment and knowing that the chance for a percentage spike could be season-defining with a logjam of sides trying to squeeze into the top four.

The Hawks were ruthless in exploiting their moment and inflated their percentage to more than 150 per cent, leaving rival coach Kevin Sheedy to enthuse about them as likely grand finalists.

''For certain, [percentage is important],'' Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said. ''It's important we stuck to the process of how we wanted to play and not worry about the scoreboard nor the opposition in a sense. We just had to play our style of footy and for the bulk of the game we did that.''

Hawthorn displaced Essendon in fifth spot and lifted its percentage by 13.92 to 152.64 - the highest in the league - with its 162-point win over the hapless Giants at the MCG.

The Hawks used the chance presented by the unexpected losses earlier by the sides above them, Collingwood and Essendon, and flattened the Giants with a belting that fell only three points short of their greatest winning margin.

Lance Franklin booted four goals - as many as the Giants kicked in a dismal afternoon - including his 500th career goal. He took his place in the team despite a hamstring complaint that meant he did not train with the main group all week.

Franklin was off the ground having that hamstring massaged early in the third quarter before he returned to the field to kick his fourth goal, only then to be substituted out of the match with his side ahead by 15 goals.

Clarkson said Franklin had received a minor knock in a marking contest and with the team comfortably ahead he decided to take him out of the match.

''He didn't train with the group at all through the week and there were a lot of sceptics about whether he would play or not … but as soon as he got that interruption in the marking contest we thought we had a comfortable lead and it allowed 'Roughy' [Jarryd Roughead] to have a bit of forward space to himself.''

Roughead finished the game with six goals, including four in the last quarter, as Hawthorn kicked 17 goals in the second half.

Clarkson said he had decided to play Franklin and not rest him against the Giants, having learnt a lesson from last year's final-round win of the season against Gold Coast when he rested seven players on the eve of the finals.

''I reckon it upsets your momentum. We will not play players if they are not quite right, but if our guys are available and they are fit and fresh and training, well, we will play them,'' he said.

Clarkson said Brad Sewell had several corked muscles and needed the rest but would definitely come back next week. Shaun Burgoyne, another to miss yesterday, should also be available, as well as captain Luke Hodge.

Sheedy said he accepted that the better sides would be viewing games against his side as opportunities to inflate their percentage, but he would not flood his players back, as there was little educational value for them in flooding.

''That's a disappointing loss but against a very good side that I expect will probably be in the grand final,'' he said. ''They are a side that has won one premiership and they probably would not be happy with that. No matter who they play, they are going to smash, whether it be us, the Gold Coast or any of the teams in the bottom four or five.

''They won one [flag] a couple of years ago but you get a bit hungry when you get beaten a few times, and Alastair Clarkson would not want to not be in the grand final again this year, for sure.''

20 comments so far

  • Roll on Septmeber, Hawks. You're looking the goods. Salivating at the prospect of a "mini-finals" campaign in the coming weeks, with top eight temas facing off against one another. Sorting the wheat from the chaff . . .

    Date and time
    July 09, 2012, 9:41AM
    • How can anyone takes these 2 new teams serious? They should be in the VFL until they prove themselves worthy. This makes a joke of the whole system.

      Keep it up like this, and they will go from 10 fans to none overnight.

      Date and time
      July 09, 2012, 9:59AM
      • So should Essendon have been sent back to the VFA in 1985 when the Swans flogged them by 164 points?

        Date and time
        July 09, 2012, 1:19PM
    • Sadly there are to many teams in the AFL these day's, and far to many teams that just make up the numbers. Clubs like Melbourne, Bulldogs & Richmond haven't won a flag in decades and don't look like winning one for decades more. New sides like GWS and Suns are just wipping boys for everyone else and you have to wounder why they were introduced at all considering the Swans have been in Sydney for 20 years now and have only ever attracted a modest following. Also the AFL'S own scedual means that they are only interested in dollars and not in bringing footy to the people or produce a fair and balanced season. It's no wounder crowds are down. I don't enjoy the footy like I did 20 years ago, it has become far to corporate.

      Roj Blake
      Date and time
      July 09, 2012, 10:03AM
      • Yep, your on the money everywhere there. None of them teams will grab a flag or survive long term. No success, people leave. They would rather blow billions on GWS (Great Waste of Space) and GC failing like Melbourne/etc have for ever. But the afl will support the new boys, at the cost of the old boys.

        on the Corp gig, I'm with you there too.. When teams are called Franchises, not clubs it really takes it away from me....

        Date and time
        July 09, 2012, 10:34AM
      • And yes...way too soft. Too many pretty boys with no heart....the term 'kick and giggle' is ringing ever more true.....

        Date and time
        July 09, 2012, 12:47PM
    • The jump in percentage again shows that the sides who play GWS twice this season have a substantial advantage over those who only play them once. When the AFL creates the 2013 draw it must ensure that all the teams play each other once before they play a team twice - this season Collingwood play Carlton, Geelong and Hawthorn twice before they play GSW, North and St Kilda.

      Unfair Draw
      Date and time
      July 09, 2012, 10:25AM
      • 100% correct. North play GWS and GC twice - this will be the difference between them making the finals or not with 4 "free" games.

        The problem is that the AFL will always schedule the big clubs to play each other. They make more money from Collingwood vs. Essendon twice a year than Collingwood vs. GWS twice a year. It's just more "unfair" at present that most of the big clubs are at the top of the ladder.

        Date and time
        July 09, 2012, 11:12AM
      • When Hawthorn played Gold Coast twice last year, we didn't hear all the Hawthorn fans complaining about it. And Doobies, Collingwood had no problems with playing Carlton and Essendon twice a year when they both were basket-cases a few years ago. As the article says, Hawthorn didn't set a highest winning margin against GWS, so there must have been a similarly, or more, crap team some time in the past.

        Date and time
        July 09, 2012, 1:26PM
      • Ross Hawthorn didn't play GC twice last year look it up

        Date and time
        July 09, 2012, 2:23PM

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