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.''