Sport AFL Dogs’ days over as Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge ends on a high
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Dogs’ days over as Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge ends on a high

bob murphy luke hodge
The two legends Bob Murphy and Luke Hodge salute the crowd as they're chaired off after playing their final AFL game. Photo: AAP
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Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson was pleased to send retiring AFL champion Luke Hodge off with a nine-point win that ended the Western Bulldogs’ premiership defence.

Hodge was warmly applauded by the Hawks home crowd every time he touched the ball.

The Dogs needed to beat the Hawks and have three other results go their way but they couldn’t complete their part of the equation in front of 48,090 fans on an emotional night at Etihad Stadium.

Hawthorn’s 15.9 (99) to 13.12 (90) win also brought an end to the decorated careers of Bulldogs greats Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd, and injured Hawks defender Josh Gibson.

In his 305th and final game, four-time premiership player Hodge played his customary role across half-back and finished with 14 possessions.

Murphy started up forward and was lively early before finishing with 15 disposals and a goal, while Boyd was outstanding with an equal game-high 33 touches.

Both teams formed a guard of honour at the end of the game, with the retiring stars saluting the crowd one last time.

Clarkson paid tribute to the four retiring champions after his club’s season ended with the side sitting 12th on the ladder with a 10-11-1 record.

Josh Gibson Luke Hodge
An emotional Gibson and Luke Hodge and his children sing the Hawks club song after their nine-point victory at Etihad Stadium on Friday night. Photo: AAP

“With those four guys it’s just a pity, in a sense, that there’s got to be a winner and a loser,” he said.

“We were pleased for Hodgey and Gibbo that we were able to get the win to make it a nice finish … but it was just a really fitting finale.

“The gathering of both clubs’ supporters after the game to see those guys chaired off was a special moment.”

The Dogs trailed at every change and looked to be out of the contest when the Hawks opened a game-high 24-point lead late in the third term.

But Luke Beveridge’s men mustered one last push and had the better of the final term without making the most of their scoring opportunities.

Hawthorn skipper Jarryd Roughead was the dominant forward on the ground, finishing with five goals, with Isaac Smith and Paul Puopolo booting three each.

Tom Mitchell (32 possessions) and Jaeger O’Meara (25 disposals and 11 tackles) were key factors around the ball for Clarkson’s side.

The Dogs finished with an 11-11 record and became the first reigning premiers since Hawthorn in 2009 to miss the finals after winning the flag.

bob murphy
Murphy finished his decorated career with 15 disposals and a goal. Photo: AAP

“Games like tonight we would have won last year,” Beveridge said.

“We haven’t quite been able to cover (injured) key personnel and we probably haven’t, as a group, come on as we would have liked to have.

“It’s an opportunity now to take a breath and consider all of the things that have affected the year.”

—AAP