Hawthorn v North Melbourne – The Doc’s Autopsy

It was billed as the master vs the apprentice… and the apprentice got the win.

A lot was made during the week about the relationship between Sam Mitchell and Alastair Clarkson given that this was their first meeting since Clarko was given the proverbial boot from Hawthorn near the end of the 2021 season.

The media seems to fawn over this specific narrative. Me? I couldn’t give a flying fig; my focus is more towards the game, and we were treated to a… well it was a game. Not sure about the quality of this one, but the sun was out in Launceston and conditions looked nice from the big monitor in my office and we had a cracking finish.

In terms of how this season has panned out so far between the Hawks and the Roos, you could’ve easily been forgiven for backing the latter in the lead-up to this game, given their start to the year, taking out both West Coast and Fremantle in their opening two weeks. Whereas Hawthorn have been thumped in both of their games and sitting plum last on the ladder.

Yet, from the word go, the Hawks were switched on and made the Kangaroos look incredibly second-rate in the opening half, leading by 32 points early doors in the third quarter. Eventually, North Melbourne began to push back and got a run of goals together, making Hawks fans incredibly nervous heading into the latter stages.

But Hawks fans will be over the moon with this win. They may not win many more games throughout the year, and they may have had one hand and three fingers already on highly touted draft prospect Harley Reid. But if you asked them what team they’d love a win against, it was always going to be against North Melbourne and against the old boy that gave them their last four flags.



This was for me, one of the biggest stories of the afternoon, with North Melbourne pulling Luke Davies-Uniacke out of the game in the warm-up with calf tightness. With Jy Simpkin out already for this game, serving a week for his silly strike last weekend on Caleb Serong, it left North weak int he guts. All eyes were going to be on North Melbourne’s midfield set up to see how it would respond with two outs to their most important cogs in the engine room.

The highest centre bounce attendees were Will Phillips (74 percent) playing his first game of the season, Ben Cunnington (70 percent) and Tom Powell (52 percent). We did get Cam Zurhaar, Hugh Greenwood and Darcy Tucker – when he was subbed on – rotating through as well.

North got absolutely spanked in a lot of the key statistics. Clearances were well down. Hawthorn won the centre bounces 14-8 and the stoppages 29-16. Overall, it’s a +19 differential to the Hawks who many thought they were deliberately tanking (myself included) when they offloaded their senior heads in the middle last year.

And the thing about the Hawks is that there were no stand-out winners in the clearances. Four players had a team-high five clearances: Josh Ward, Ned Reeves, Will Day and Karl Amon. Another three players had four clearances: James Worpel, Harry Morrison and Lloyd Meek.

And for the record, they had Jai Newcombe, Conor Nash, Will Day, James Worpel, Cam McKenzie and Josh Ward rotating through the centre bounces all afternoon. As far as confidence boosting goes for the younger brigade, that’s something Mitchell will highlight come Monday.

It was a great collective team performance in the middle by the Hawks. And just to ram that point home just that little more, 14 Hawks players recorded six or more contested possessions and the highest was Josh Ward who had 10.



They would’ve been left lamenting about the horrible opening half performance. Not just when they had the ball. But when they didn’t have the ball, their endeavour for the contest stood out like dogs bollocks.

There are two key statistics here that condemn the Roos here and they overlap significantly. The first is overall marks. There was an obvious theme and gameplan that the Hawks were looking to accomplish in the opening half and that was through control with the ball. In particular, the defensive unit was superb in maintaining possession and chipping the ball through the ground finding the right players.

By half-time, they recorded 78 marks and led the Roos by 31 in the statistic. They finished with 140 for the game. Between James Sicily, Dylan Moore, Blake Hardwick, Will Day and Jack Scrimshaw – they had 61 marks between them – yes, you read that correctly, and I even put it on the calculator just to be sure.

The other statistic here is North’s defensive pressure. You could see it every time that Hawthorn were kicking the ball around, a North player was either guarding grass or trailing his direct man by a few metres. The tackling pressure too, was non-existent. They only had 16 up to halftime and trailed the Hawks by 12.

And yes, the Hawks were up in the contested ball to this point, and that’s as big a cardinal sin as any in football. I counted at half time that 11 North Melbourne players registered a tackle. Some of them were key players and that is to an extent understandable; but amongst this list included Hugh Greenwood, Tom Powell, Will Phillips, Kayne Turner, Curtis Taylor, Daniel Howe and Jaidyn Stephenson. Especially for the midfielders like Greenwood, Powell and Phillips, that is inexcusable.

Fortunately, once they tidied that up in the third quarter, the game swung in their favour. But this game just goes to show that even against the side many tipped to finish wooden spooners, you can’ hang your hat on 30 to 40 minutes of good football.



If you’re new here to the Mongrel; firstly, welcome. Secondly, be prepared to be subjected to my love for Dylan Moore.

You could pick a few winners out of the Brown and Gold camp to take the best on ground honours in this game, but for my money, when the game was there to be won early stages and then late in the piece, Moore was the guy to get them over the line.

It feels a bit peculiar, every time I put my hand up to write about a Hawthorn game, I often find myself writing about Moore’s performance and how good it was for the side. He’s come a long way since his days of being purely a small forward. He’s now really evolved into a being an extra midfielder-half forward hybrid player.

With this, he’s able to push himself up the ground to be involved in stoppages, but his best work is when the Hawks are running off the counter and his poise in the forward half and placing the ball inside 50 is without question, some of the best going around in this competition.

It’s a shame he’s playing at a side like Hawthorn who are approximately four years away from being challengers for the top eight, at a side like Collingwood or Sydney, he’d be widely talked about and widely praised for his elite decision-making and football smarts.

He had 26 disposals in this game, 12 marks, two goals, two goal assists and a further five score involvements (nine overall), seven inside 50s, 22 pressure acts and a kicking efficiency of 66.7 percent.

I love watching him play, and if you don’t take anything else from this review, just take into account my musings of him next time you go watch the Hawks play. He’s a master at creating and linking up by foot.



Overall, it was a very good game from Griffin Logue; I’d argue he was North Melbourne’s best player on the day. He stood up well in defence and had a lot of really big moments, North may have lost by a lot more if it wasn’t for his intercept marks. In truth, he’s had a great start to his career as a North Melbourne player after some frustrating years prior at Fremantle.

But there are some things I noted down that I think are worth mentioning at least. The first is his defensive marking. Now, it may be a bit harsh considering he wasn’t the only one, but in this game, defensive marking starts with your key lynchpins. And there was a moment in the game that really stood out in the second term.

Hawthorn were about to send the ball inside 50 and there was space for Fergus Greene to lead into the forward pocket. It had to be a good kick, and it was delivered brilliantly. You know who Greene was running off? You guessed it, Griffin Logue.

Logue was anticipating the kick to be a big dump kick to the big hot spot that a lot of footballers are taught to place the kick as a junior, and a lot of the senior footballers are told to sag off and have some ‘teasing distance’ but sometimes, you’ve just got to go with them and that was a poor moment from him.

The other moment, which will no doubt be discussed throughout the week, was his bump on Will Day. The bump has been a pretty big talking point this season: Kysaiah Pickett, Buddy Franklin and Shane McAdam all served suspensions for hits to the head in round one. Some will argue that it was a motion to go for the ball, but the slow motion replay makes it look like he bypasses the ball to collect Will Day on the chin.

Thankfully, young Will got up and played out the game, but as we’ve seen, the Match Review Officer can pull out the potential to cause serious harm clause, which could see him miss weeks. We saw the AFL put their foot down in round one (although I argue they could’ve gone harder with the weeks) it needs to be consistent with their findings and rulings.

Take all that aside, five intercept marks and a team-high 11 intercept possessions is a fair day in the office, right? All in all, it was a terrific game from Logue.



I think Tyler Brockman is a fascinating player. He came onto the scene in 2021 as a small forward and made some really positive signs in terms of impacting the scoreboard and his pressure. He kicked six goals in his first four games and finished off his year with a three-goal bag against Richmond in the draw in the last game of the season.

He didn’t play in 2022 after injuries ruined his year, which is a real shame. But upon his return to footy, he reminded us all that he’s got a spot in this best 22 as a small forward. There’s a real enthusiastic approach to how he plays.

He wears the number 33 made famous by Cyril Rioli, but we are never going to see another Cyril in our lifetime. However, with Brockman, we have here a player who’s extremely quick, has proven himself to be a solid scoreboard contributor and someone who will be relentless in terms of applying pressure. There are things he can work on, he sprayed a couple of set shots horribly – I remember that being a theme in 2021.

But despite all that, he still managed to kick three goals, including an extremely important one in the last quarter when North Melbourne were getting closer to taking the lead back again. He also had a massive hand in the Dylan Moore’s match-sealing goal, being in the right position to crumb a marking contest inside 50 before the first-give handball to Moore in a much better and attacking position.

He did that a few times in this game, being front and centre towards a contest in the attacking third of the ground, and that’s what makes him so deadly. He had seven score involvements (including 3.1 and one goal assist), from 11 disposals, six marks (four inside 50), three tackles and 14 pressure acts.

I hope we get to see more of him in this game… and actually more of the Hawks players getting around players after a goal, I thought that was an incredibly nice touch and a very underrated aspect of footy at the moment.



Thought it was a slow start from the man who has about 100 nicknames on the A3 Footy Podcast: Harry Sheezel (new nickname this week is the Prince of Perth), but really picked up as the Roos got going – he finished with 26 disposals (team high) including 14 kicks at 86 percent efficiency and 510  metres gained. He also had 22 pressure acts, six tackles, and eight intercept possessions.

Another of the young kids I enjoyed in this game was Cam McKenzie. He’s had himself some good weeks to start his AFL career, but in all of the hype of Harry Sheezel and Will Ashcroft, this kid is quietly piecing together some good form: 20 disposals, nine tackles and 290 metres gained from him is a good return.

A lot of people were expecting a big bag from Nick Larkey this week, but only managed just the two disposals. He got double-teamed a fair bit – It was often Sicily and Sam Frost doing the work, but credit to the Hawks for barely letting him get any clear space.

Speaking of, not sure how you rate Sam Frost’s game. 12 intercept possessions and five score involvements is a good return, but he really made a meal of some of the kicks in this game. I think he just needs to have his kicking license taken off him full stop.

Lloyd Meek’s game was an odd one. He fumbled a mark inside 50 with no one around him and then watched a football slam into the bottom of the goalpost. Probably not one of his best games – no effective kics and just seven hitouts from 30 ruck contests – his teammate Ned Reeves had 19 more contests and recorded 16 more hitouts.

It was a good game from Cam Zurhaar. I have my questions about him being placed in the middle, but I think given the outs, it was something that needed to be done. Never take s a backwards step though and when moved forward, he made an impact with a couple of majors – finished with 20 disposals and seven inside 50s.

A great performance from Will Day in this game. Really showed both his outside class and his ability to work for the contested ball when called upon: 29 disposals led all Hawks on the ground, but also had 20 kicks at 80 percent efficiency, 470 metres gained, 19 pressure acts, 11 marks and five clearances is a great return.

Wasn’t Paul Curtis’ day, but he had some really positive moments, showed a couple of times a strong overhead mark and his ability to link up in general play is impressive. He’s got a footballer’s instinct. The 50-metre penalty he gave away though was disappointing.

Jai Newcombe’s field kicking is incredibly underrated. There were a few moments in this game where he was able to pinpoint out players inside 50 or inside the attacking half and whilst not the best player on the ground, he certainly made his presence through his kicking: 15 kicks at 80 percent efficiency and eight score involvements.

When Darcy Tucker came on as the sub, I thought he came on and had a really good impact. Played his first game in the AFL level this year and his first game in North colours. I’d keep him in the team for next week – he worked hard for his footy.

I also want to give props to the games of Blake Hardwick and Changkuoth Jiath in defence, both men were excellent in absorbing North’s forward pressure and being able to provide the drive out of the defensive half.

I also want to praise Connor Macdonald’s performance. Every time he got his hands to the ball, he was looking to do something meaningful with it, and every time he got his hands to the ball, he was trying to slice through the congestion and get something going – he’s going to be a quality player.

Ben Cunnington started really strong in this game, but it’s pretty clear he can’t do it all himself. He led all players for contested possessions with 13.

Jack Scrimshaw back for his first game was good to see. There’s no doubt this man is best 22 worthy and is always smart and meticulous about where the next kick is going and works the angles well. Didn’t get as much metres as others, but 25 disposals, nine marks, eight score involvements and seven intercept possessions.

Which reminds me of the Triple M team on the radio (because bugger listening to Kelli Underwood) taking the piss out of the boundary rider for wrongly stating that Scrimshaw was subbed out of the game and then being in awe for being subbed back in the game. They also made note of Fox Footy missing a behind kicked in the opening quarter that went unchecked for nearly 20 minutes!!

And on that fairly amusing note, that’s me done for the review of this game… or grudge match if you’d like to call it that like our ‘friends’ in the media.

A big win by the Hawks that has them lifted off the bottom of the ladder for now. As mentioned earlier, they may not win many games this year, but Hawks fans will be glad that Sam Mitchell has got one over Clarko… I just hope they don’t see each other at the airport on the way back home.

Next week is the Easter holiday round and as such, both teams will be scheduled for their regular fixtures. Hawthorn will have the chance to make it two on the bounce, but it’ll be against a Geelong side, that whilst shown vulnerability, are not as bad as 0-2 sounds. But they still need to get past the Suns up in Queensland – that’ll be an interesting game.

North Melbourne will want to be better for their Good Friday game. To the relief of their supporters, this year it won’t be against the Bulldogs. Instead, they take on Carlton, who are yet to taste defeat this season, although their win against the Giants this week was anything but convincing; it should be a good test to see where this North team are well and truly at.


You know who’s a great bloke? The Doc. You can buy him a coffee for the work he does by clicking the link below. I’m sure he’d greatly appreciate it.



Want more of this kind of stuff? Join The Mongrel to get it!