Sport AFL No frills Hawks lead the slaughter

No frills Hawks lead the slaughter

Ross Lyon
Getty Images
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Hawthorn fans may recall a player in their team who went by the nickname of Buddy.

Surely you remember – No.23, two Coleman Medals, two premierships, four-time All-Australian, most exciting and imposing player in the AFL?

That’s right, him.

Friday night’s 58-point belting of Fremantle in the grand final rematch again showed how well the Hawks are coping without Lance Franklin.

The reigning premiers had 12 goalscorers and their 21.11 was the highest score against Fremantle since Ross Lyon took over as coach and turned the Dockers into a defensive powerhouse.

As Franklin and Sydney deal with the downside of their monster free-agency deal, Hawthorn are 3-0 and also continue to reap the benefits of a player list that runs deep with talent.

Stung by the alarming drop-off from their 2008 premiership, the Hawks have worked hard in the past few years on their recruiting and player development.

Over the past season or so, they had also made a point of being less reliant on Franklin in attack.

Apart from Franklin, on Friday night they had six other players missing from last year’s premiership side – including captain Luke Hodge and star midfielder Brad Sewell – because of injuries.

Norm Smith medallist Brian Lake is about to resume from suspension, while Ben Stratton and long-term absentee Ryan Schoenmakers are playing on Saturday in the VFL.

Hawthorn hammered the Dockers without massive contributions from reigning Coleman Medallist Jarryd Roughead or star utility Shaun Burgoyne, the hero of their round-two comeback win over Essendon.

Instead, Jordan Lewis, Sam Mitchell and Cyril Rioli starred and team-mates such as Bradley Hill, Luke Breust, Liam Shiels and Isaac Smith continue to develop into top-line talent.

The late withdrawal of ruckman Ben McEvoy could have hurt Hawthorn badly against Aaron Sandilands, but replacement Jonathon Ceglar was far from overawed in just his third senior game and combined well with David Hale.

Coach Alastair Clarkson noted the three original emergencies for Friday night’s team – Ceglar, Derick Wanganeen and Mitch Hallahan – had all been in the AFL system for several years.

“You just have to be patient,” Clarkson said.

“That’s a really healthy thing for your footy club if you’re in the fortunate position to have that.

“Our depth will get tested throughout the course of the year and it has early.

“Those lads have been able to come in and cover for us, which is really valuable.”