Hawthorn’s slim finals hopes are now all but extinguished as a plucky, top four-bound Brisbane first hung on, then put their foot down to win yet another game on the road this season.
Despite boasting a significant clearance advantage, the Hawks failed to capitalise on numerous chances in an otherwise dominant first half, a late goal to Dayne Zorko putting the Lions two points up just seconds before halftime.
It was the first time the Lions had been in front on the scoreboard and it was a lead the Hawks wouldn’t see again, a 27 point final margin perhaps not reflective of what was a close contest in the clinches.
In an eerily similar pattern to the round 11 fixture between these sides the Hawks quickly established a two goal buffer, largely due to the efforts of Ben McEvoy, Jaeger O’Meara and James Worpel. The midfield trio were winning clean ball from stoppages and sending long kicks deep inside 50, where Shaun Burgoyne and Mitchell Lewis the main beneficiaries. Unfortunately for the latter his radar was well off, two gilt-edged misses from 30 metres dead in front compounded by a reversal free kick after Mitch Robinson had conceded a 50 metre penalty at half forward. In an instant, what should’ve been a 14 point Hawthorn lead was cut to two as Noah Answerth kicked a running goal from right on the 50 with a fortuitous, floating effort.
This pattern continued in the second quarter as Brisbane gamely hung on, their forwards struggling to assert themselves as their backline battled to find targets exiting defensive 50. Amidst all this adversity it was the usual suspects – Lachie Neale and Mitch Robinson who stood tall and started getting the ball going the Lions’ way.
After the main break, Brisbane were able to play more of the game on their terms, pressuring their opponent’s possessions at half back and running in waves toward goal. Brisbane had five different goal scorers in the third term, the impressive Hugh McCluggage among them. The youngster set up Cam Rayner with a delicate lateral chip before converting a difficult set shot minutes later, the visiting side now holding a 22 point advantage.
The final quarter was largely forgettable, the home side continuing to miss straightforward chances as the Lions started taking the sting out of the game.
Robinson was a constant thorn in Hawthorn’s side as he continues his resurgence in 2019. The red headed hard man is now a legitimate leader of this football team and it was a classic Robinson performance today. Be it clearance work, tackling or taking goal saving marks on the last line of defence, the former Blue was everywhere with the obligatory physicality that he brings each week.
He even managed to goad young Hawk Mitchell Lewis into giving away a critical free kick to cancel out a 50 metre penalty he’d just conceded! A run down tackle on Oliver Hanrahan seconds before the final siren was a fitting end to the game.
Robinson’s stats on the day – 28 disposals, four marks, four tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s, four rebound 50s.
The Brownlow favourite went head to head with O’Meara and was the Lions’ highest ball winner. Neale still found the footy when McEvoy was winning hitouts for fun and was clean with his disposals. Often ran into space cleared by the maniacal Robinson – the two make a great clearance combo.
Is this guy the heir apparent to Scott Pendlebury as the most composed player in the competition? In my eyes he is.
McCluggage turned the game after halftime with his vision, deft skill and finishing ability. The prodigious youngster had a hand in multiple goals and nailed a clutch set shot into the wind late in the 3rd.
I can’t wait to see him feature in September!
21 disposals @80%, five tackles, five inside 50s, three clearances, three goal assists
Another standout four quarter performance from Worpel has him in the conversation as one of the best young midfielders in the league, a sureness in possession becoming more evident as the season unfolds. A maturity beyond his years was evident today, buzzing around stoppages and driving the ball deep in attack.
34 disposals @76%, seven clearances, six inside 50s
The big Hawk bested a quality opponent (Stefan Martin), particularly in the first half where he force fed the likes of Worpel and O’Meara with quality tapwork. The hit to the advantage of a running Burgoyne in the first quarter was ruck craft 101 and will be replayed numerous times on football panel shows in the coming days.
14 disposals @78%, sic tackles, seven clearances, 39 hitouts
Was opposed to the dangerous Eric Hipwood and well and truly had his number. Did all the usual Sicily things; one grab intercept marking, surgical kicks to advantage and all interspersed with the odd hospital handball to keep things interesting! By and large it was a disciplined performance and another big scalp for the Hawthorn defender.
20 disposals @75%, five rebound 50s
Luke Breust would’ve breathed a sigh of relief with the knowledge his recent tormentor Nick Robertson wasn’t playing. That feeling wouldn’t have lasted long as Answerth took him to the cleaners with one of the better games of his fledgling career. An important goal in the opening stanza mixed with some quality rebounding play saw Answerth play a pivotal role in his side’s win. He’d be one of Fagan’s favourites.
15 disposals @86%, seven tackles, four rebound 50s, three inside 50s, one goal
After missing two years of footy through injury there were legitimate doubts that Birchall would play senior football again, and if so whether he’d still be a quality contributor. Those doubts were dispelled today as the veteran produced a typically assured performance in the heart of defence, halving contests then freeing up teammates with precise kicking.
24 disposals @79%, four marks
Success has been elusive for Daniel Rich, but do good things come to those who wait? Patron article here.