HAWTHORN held off a third-quarter challenge to outclass its adopted Tasmanian brother by 27 points in Launceston.
The Hawks took full advantage of North Melbourne’s many turnovers, with Luke Hodge playing a strong hand in the 18.8 (116) to 14.5 (89) victory and his final appearance at UTAS Stadium.
The match failed to reach the level of entertainment provided by the pre-match fireworks, which left scorch marks around the near faultless surface.
Kangaroos big man Ben Brown was dangerous all day and had a chance to get the scoreboard ticking over, but missed everything and seven minutes elapsed before Jack Gunston slotted the opener in front of 14,509 fans – the second largest AFL crowd in Tasmania this year.
Taking Launceston’s total crowd figure to a combined 52,789 people from four matches this season.
Brad Scott’s men butchered possession and the Hawks took full advantage, rebounding precisely off half-back to lead by 24 points in almost no time.
Kayne Turner slotted the visitors’ first in the 24th minute before Brown made it back-to-back majors with a superb left-foot snap.
Goals to Hawk Ricky Henderson and young joey Cameron Zurhaar – who was a late replacement for skipper Jack Ziebell – sent through his maiden AFL six-pointer to have his side trailing by 14 points at quarter-time.
Play continued to be on Hawthorn’s terms in the second stanza with five goals to two. Alastair Clarkson sent second-year defender Kaiden Brand to Brown after the Devonport product looked to be getting too much ball after he was initially matched-up against Ryan Burton.
A lot of seesawing football played out between the arcs, with Hawks captain Jarryd Roughead breaking the deadlock nine minutes in.
Daniel Howe was clinical from a forward stoppage for his first as North ruckman Braydon Preuss enjoyed five minutes of dominance in which he kicked 1.1 from multiple marks inside 50.
Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell and Gunston were dominating general play, as Hawthorn went into half-time with 10 individual goal-kickers and a 33-point buffer.
The third installment was by far the most entertaining.
Roughead became the first multiple goalscorer just 120 seconds in, with Henderson and Luke Breust’s second majors putting the Hawks up by 51 points within six minutes of play resuming.
However, the Kangas rallied and began to get on top with Shaun Higgins, Ryan Clarke and Trent Dumont providing plenty of supply moving forward.
Majors to Taylor Garner and Brown were met with a double counter punch from the Hawks through Breust and Smith before a streak of five goals from North reduced the deficit to 19 points with a term to play.
North booted five goals in last 13 minutes of the quarter, thanks to clearance control and eight more inside 50s.
Brown slotted his 54th major of the season, while Preuss, Higgins, Garner and Declan Mountford all aided the resurgence.
After eight scoreless minutes, Roughead’s third increased the gap as both teams went goal-for-goal in a relatively mundane final session with Hawthorn kicking three goals to two.
Bruest led all-comers with four as both teams made the most of their opportunities, converting a combined 32.14 for the day.
Roughead kicked three with Shaun Burgoyne, Smith and Henderson all chiming in with doubles, while Brown (three), Zurhaar, Preuss and Gardner (two each) gave the Roos some spark.
Hawk Tom Mitchell was prolific with a game-high 35 disposals as was Smith, Hodge (29 touches) and both Gunston and James Sicily with 27 each in defence.
Howe kept Roo Ben Cunnington under wraps, but Higgins (31 possessions) showed his class through the middle as did Sam Gibson, Dumont and Clarke. Robbie Tarrant also proved himself as a leading key defender in the competition.
NORTH Melbourne was able to take it to Hawthorn in the contest but its poor skill and execution is what let it down considerably in the battle of Tassie on Sunday.
The Kangaroos won the clearances (37-30) and matched the Hawks with inside-50 entries (48-47) but turnovers and allowing the Hawks plenty of outside run cost them dearly.
“We thought our effort and our method was pretty good but just some fundamentals, some simple skill errors, which Hawthorn are very good at capitalising on (let us down),” North coach Brad Scott said.
“Around the contest and getting enough entries going forward… I think we did reasonably effectively in the third quarter in particular.
Scott said he was impressed with his side’s ability to fight their way back after being eight goals down.
“You're almost thinking some of our young guys might turn it up a little bit, but they went the other and they got back on the front foot and kept attacking and kept the effort up around the contest and managed to kick five goals in a row that got us back in the game,” he said.
Scott said playing both Braydon Preuss and Todd Goldstein was still a work in progress. Preuss was influential with nine touches, two goals and 25 hitouts, while Goldstien struggled (four disposals and 22 hitouts).
“The numbers are 23-9 in the centre clearances, we kicked eight goals to four from forward stoppages around the ground so pretty dominant really,” he said.
Scott was also coy on the exact injury to his skipper Jack Ziebell’s left foot, which saw him withdraw from the match, and confirmed he would require post-season surgery after first damaging his foot a month ago against Port Adelaide.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said it was a good performance in former captain Luke Hodge’s 46th and final match in Launceston.
“By and large we were pretty pleased with the victory,” he said.
“We were really good for large parts of the game but we just had a really poor 15 minutes in the back part of the third quarter that just gave them a bit of ascendancy. (It) made the last quarter more of a grind than we would have liked.”
Clarkson said Hodge helped steady his fledgling defence and the Hawks rebound with flare, while Gunston stoodout along with Isaac Smith.
“He’s (Smith) played a really good game today and we like it when he’s able to get forward and kick goals,” Clarkson said.
“He kicked a couple, Herderson kicked a couple of goals and Billy Hartung kicked a goals too, so when we’re getting off our wingers we are pretty happy.”
Clarkson said his side would need to play “a bit better” against Carlton.