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The Hawthorn Hawks showed they still have the appetite to participate in this year’s finals by dominating the Fremantle Dockers in the final quarter at the Dockers’ home ground. Fremantle competed solidly but could not overcome the Hawk dominance in the air as the big Hawks out-marked the home side.

Hawthorn started each center bounce by positioning two extra players on the defensive side of the center square. These players were then used to sprint to the center and set up attacking moves. Jack Gunston was particularly effective in this role has he directed play to the benefit of the Hawk’s big men up forward. The Dockers’ Sean Darcy, playing his fifth game, matched the experienced Hawk Ben McEvoy in the ruck, and gave the Dockers’ midfielders plenty of opportunity. However, Fremantle's lack of height in attack was exposed by former Hawk forward, James Siciliy, playing a dominant role as a defender. At the other end of the ground, Jared Roughead and Will Langford were clear focal points for Hawthorn attacks, many of which were initiated by Tom Mitchell who was in everything. Roughead kicked two goals and he and Langford combined to set up opportunities for the smaller Hawthorn forwards, Luke Breust and Ricky Henderson, who kicked two goals each for the game.

The Hawks opened strongly by kicking the first four goals. It was not until the fifteen-minute mark that Cam McCarthy booted the Dockers’ first goal, which was a direct result of a turnover caused by a poor kick by Hawk veteran Luke Hodge. Five minutes later the Dockers appeared more settled as Bradley Hill and David Mundy combined to work the ball to half forward where Shane Kersten kicked on target from the boundary line at 50 meters.

The Dockers began the second quarter with an early goal to Ryan Nyhuis who benefited from a well-weighted McCarthy kick. The game then settled into a struggle of defenses where neither side could establish clear dominance. At the fifteen-minute mark Luke Breust broke the deadlock by gathering a ground ball on the boundary line and slotting a goal from 45 meters. Six minutes later Breust repeated the dose by picking up a ball, which spilled from a flying pack of players, to kick his second. By half-time the Hawks had a useful lead; however, the Dockers had shown desire to compete and had matched the Hawks in competitive possessions and entries into the 50 meter attacking zone.

The third quarter got underway with the Hawks attacking and Mitchell showing his skill by completing a lightening quick handpass to Daniel Howe who goaled. The Dockers then tightened their game by pressing players to the ball carrier and forcing Hawthorn to work under pressure in the packs. The tactic appeared to be working when Mitchell fumbled the ball and caused a turnover, which allowed the Dockers’ Hayden Crozier to run clear and handball to Hayden Ballantyne who kicked truly. Five minutes later Shane Kersten scrambled a goal from a pack in the goal square to give the Dockers hope of getting back into the game. However, Hawthorn showed that they too could apply pressure on the ball and the game became a struggle of wills. Connor Glass, an Irishman from County Derry, played his first game for Hawthorn and adapted well to the Australian game, by using his pace and long kicking to effect. At the fifteen-minute mark Blake Hardwick broke the scoring impasse when he booted a searching kick across the half-forward line to find Billy Hartung who booted the Hawk’s second major for the quarter. A free kick and goal to Ricky Henderson near the end of the quarter allowed Hawthorn to add comfortable padding to their lead. For three quarters the Dockers had matched the Hawks in contested balls, clearances, tackles and attacking entries as players fought to keep their team's season alive.

Both teams opened the final quarter by scoring early goals. The game then settled again into an arm wrestle. With time running out the Dockers moved into a more attacking structure which released pressure on the Hawthorn ball carriers. Hawthorn took advantage of the more open game and moved the ball with ease to boot goals through Burgoyne, Isaac Smith, Tim O’Brien and Mitchell. The gate had shut for the Dockers. A late goal to the Dockers’ David Mundy was answered by a Ben McEvoy mark and goal, to provide a clear exclamation mark on the Hawks’ final quarter dominance.

Next week, Hawthorn will try to keep their slim chance of making the finals alive, when they meet the resurgent Sydney Swans on Friday night at the MCG. Coach Alistair Clarkson can be pleased with the development of his younger players. The Dockers will play The Greater Western Sydney Giants at the Giants’ home ground and will be hoping to put in a solid effort to avoid a total thrashing. The Dockers’ season is over and Coach Ross Lyon will use the last five games to further test his young players and set up for the future.

Fremantle Dockers   2.0  3.4  5.5   7.6   (48)
Hawthorn Hawks      4.3  6.6  9.9  15.10 (100)

Fremantle Dockers: Blakely, Neale, B Hill, Fyfe, Hamling
Hawthorn Hawks: Mitchell, Gunston, Sicily, Breust, Shiels

Article last changed on Tuesday, August 01, 2017 - 11:51 PM EDT

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