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Mitchell kicks for Hawthorn

The Hawthorn Hawks boosted their campaign to make the 2018 finals by convincingly defeating the Fremantle Dockers. In a one-sided game the Hawks picked up valuable percentage points (based on scores kicked for and against) that could prove vital at the end of the season. The Dockers, who were already out of finals calculations, had a game where little worked for them and as they repeatedly butchered forays into their attacking zone. In contrast, the Hawks were brutal when required to contest the ball, swooped on any errors made by the rattled Dockers and clinical in their forward thrusts.

In the absence of Aaron Sandilands, Fremantle’s Luke Darcy competed well in the ruck with The Hawk’s big man, Jonathan Ceglar. Hit-out honors were even, which resulted in Lachie Neale and David Mundy matching Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell and Jaegar O’Meara with center clearances. However, once the Dockers cleared the ball from packs, they lacked the purpose and pure intent of Hawthorn. Hawthorn would routinely work the ball wide and then make a direct assault on the full-forward zone. If Jarryd Roughead was covered, Luke Breust was available for a chip pass, Ryan Schoenmakers was setting himself to fly, or Jack Gunston was lurking at the back of a pack. The Hawks simply had too many forward weapons for the Dockers to cover. 

AFL Fremantle v Western BulldogsHawthorn, 2018 Optus Stadium.
Bruest shows class

The real damage though was done in the midfield. Tom Mitchell roamed wide and free to control play and organize those around him. If Mitchell wasn’t already a favorite for the Brownlow medal, he should be regarded as a certainty after his 42 possession game today. He does not have speed, but he reads the play like few others and rarely appears under pressure when using the ball. Jaegar O’Meara, like Mitchell, was a dominant midfielder who punished the opposition with his forward delivery. Lachie Neale put in a mammoth game for the Dockers, racking up 37 midfield possessions, (with a game high of 20 contested), while veteran David Mundy with 34 possessions tried valiantly and had some good support from Ed Langdon and Andrew Brayshaw. Langdon was lively and snapped a goal at the 11-minute mark of the first quarter to have the Dockers one point behind the fast-starting Hawks. From that moment onwards, the Hawks took control with a run of eight unanswered goals; which was not broken until the 22-minute mark of the third quarter when Mundy finished some good work by Michael Walters and Brad Hill to mark and kick truly. By then, though, the Hawks were in a position of complete dominance and the result was beyond doubt.

The Hawks started the final quarter with a goal to Mitchell before slipping into preservation mode. The Dockers took advantage and booted two mid-term goals before the Hawks regained control. The damage to the Dockers would have been much worse but for the strong defensive game of Joel Hamling on Jarryd Roughead, who could only manage one goal. The Hawks were as impressive as they were ruthless. Young teams like the Dockers will always have occasional bad games, so it is difficult to gauge how good the Hawks really are from this performance alone. The Hawks were silky smooth and used short kicks across ground to set up play and launch assaults, but they were never really pressured by the Dockers.

Next week the Hawks have a sterner test when they meet the Essendon Bombers the MCG. If Essendon lose, their season will be as good as done for the year. If the Hawks lose and Geelong beat Richmond, the Hawks will be out of the top eight by percentage [Points for divide by points against]. The Dockers remain at Optus to meet the West Coast Eagles in an "away" Western Derby. The Eagles will be champing at the bit to put away the memories of their bad loss in Tasmania to the North Melbourne Kangaroos this weekend; and fortify their grip on second place on the ladder.

Fremantle Dockers: 3.3 3.5  4.8  7.11  (53)
Hawthorn Hawks:    5.2 8.6 14.8 17.10 (112)

Fremantle Dockers: Neale, Mundy, Hamling, Langdon, Brayshaw
Hawthorn Hawks:    Mitchell, O’Meara, Shiels, Breust, Henderson

Article last changed on Sunday, July 29, 2018 - 3:38 PM EDT

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