Highlights: Hawthorn v Gold Coast
The Hawks and Suns clash in round 9
Buddy Franklin battled in the first half but he - and the Hawks - lifted after half-time
IT TOOK a major second-half turnaround for Hawthorn to overcome a poor start and defeat Gold Coast by 26 points at the MCG on Sunday, returning it to the top of the AFL ladder.
In what briefly loomed as one of the greatest upsets in years, the impressive Suns led by as much as 17 points early in the third quarter.
Although the Suns continued to fight hard they were unable to hold on as the Hawks kicked the next six goals and eventually ran out 18.10 (118) to 14.8 (92) winners in front of 28,112 fans.
Five talking points: Hawthorn v Gold Coast
Veteran Shaun Burgoyne provided the spark for Hawthorn, kicking two of his three goals during his team's third-quarter surge.
He finished with 22 disposals and four tackles.
Jonathan Simpkin, Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell were prolific for the victors, while Max Bailey's dominance in the ruck helped the Hawks claim a decisive 21-8 advantage in centre clearances and 69-42 edge in inside 50s.
Click here to vote for the three best Hawthorn players from the match
Star forward Lance Franklin kicked five goals for Hawthorn, although his afternoon was decidedly up and down.
The four-time All Australian started poorly, getting outpointed several times in one-on-one contests with emerging Gold Coast key defender Rory Thompson.
He received Bronx cheers from Hawks fans when he marked and kicked his first goal late in the second quarter, and put three shots out on the full during the third.
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But weight of supply and continued hard work eventually counted in Franklin's favour, and he became an influential contributor as the game wore on, finishing with 21 disposals.
In a positive-filled day for the rapidly improving Suns, small forward Aaron Hall was superb, booting five goals.
Champion midfielder Gary Ablett kicked three, all in the first half, and finished with 37 disposals in a vintage performance.
Click here to vote for the three best Gold Coast players from the match
Dion Prestia also found plenty of the football, gathering 33 touches and kicking one goal, while youngster Jaeger O'Meara typified his team's strong work-rate, laying a game-high seven tackles.
Hawthorn debutant Sam Grimley made a perfect start to his AFL career, marking and goaling in the opening minutes to join the somewhat exclusive 'first kick, first goal' club.
The lanky ruckman/forward was subbed from the game at three-quarter time, and finished with 14 disposals and 11 hit-outs.
Already missing key players including Zac Smith, Harley Bennell, Karmichael Hunt and Charlie Dixon, Gold Coast suffered a heavy injury toll, losing first-round draft pick Jesse Lonergan with a hamstring injury, Steven May with a corked quad and Jared Brennan with a knee problem.Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson commended his players
for lifting after half-time, but said his team lacked "spirit" early in the game.
"Gold Coast took it up to us, and full credit to them, but we just didn't play with the type of endeavour," he said.
"We didn't tackle and put pressure on the Gold Coast side enough in the first half, and we allowed them to control the ball far too easily."
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna was pleased with his team's performance.
"We spoke to the boys about this being a great examination throughout the course of the week, playing against Hawthorn, a 7-1 side," he said.
"We thought we'd made some progression over the course of the season so far.
"[We wanted] to test ourselves and we wanted to test Hawthorn, and I thought for the majority of the game we did that."
The Suns are now 4-5 after nine rounds, and face Geelong in Geelong next Saturday night.
Hawthorn will be aiming for a ninth straight win against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.
They are likely to regain David Hale and late withdrawal Grant Birchall, who missed Sunday's game with ankle and back ailments respectively.
Suns forward Aaron Hall gets a handpass away against the Hawks. Picture: AFL Media
HAWTHORN 4.5 7.6 13.8 18.10 (118)
GOLD COAST 3.3 9.5 10.6 14.8 (92)
Hawthorn: Franklin 5, Burgoyne 3, Roughead 3, Grimley, Breust, Bailey, Gunston, Mitchell, Hodge, Puopolo
Gold Coast: Hall 5, Ablett 3, Lynch, Prestia, Brown, Matera, Broughton, Swallow
Hawthorn: Burgoyne, Simpkin, Mitchell, Bailey, Stratton, Lewis
Gold Coast: Ablett, Thompson, Prestia, Hall, Matera
Gold Coast: Lonergan (hamstring), Brennan (knee), May (quad)
Hawthorn: Sam Grimley subbed off for Taylor Duryea
Gold Coast: Jesse Lonergan (hamstring) subbed off for Luke Russell at half-time
Umpires: Bannister, Ryan, Schmitt
Official crowd: 28,112 at the MCG