Liam Shiels' first-quarter burst was the catalyst for Hawthorn's big win over North Melbourne
A FEATURE of Hawthorn's march to the 2013 premiership was its depth of talent through the midfield and the signs are that Alastair Clarkson's engine room is primed for another big season.
Exquisite performances from Liam Shiels, Bradley Hill, Will Langford and Sam Mitchell were a feature of Hawthorn's 65-point win over North Melbourne in their NAB Challenge clash at Aurora Stadium on Friday night.
Shiels had 14 touches and kicked three goals in the first quarter en route to a 30-possession performance. Mitchell (28) was also prolific while coming off an excellent 2013, Hill, who had 24 touches is ready to take his game to a new level.
Langford kicked had 19 touches and three goals, while at the same time, having a run-with role on prime Kangaroos midfielder Jack Ziebell.
Daniel Wells, Ben Cunnington and Nick Dal Santo had a bit of the ball for North, but the Kangaroos had no answer for Hawthorn's run and spread and coach Brad Scott will head back to Melbourne on the weekend with some concerns.
So poor was North's first half, in which it was restricted to just three goals by a depleted Hawthorn backline missing Grant Birchall, Brian Lake, Ben Stratton and Ryan Schoenmakers, it prompted stand-in skipper Drew Petrie to give his teammates a gee-up as they left the ground at half-time.
In the end, Aaron Black kicked three goals, but there wasn't a whole lot else to enthuse about for the Kangaroos.
A serious hamstring injury to North youngster Taylor Garner added to the club's woes.
Both clubs don't play for another fortnight. The Kangaroos travel to Geelong for a Friday night clash under lights against the Cats on March 7, while the Hawks meet Melbourne at Casey Fields the following afternoon.
The Hawks hope to have Birchall and Stratton, neither who have played so far this pre-season, back for that encounter.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Hawthorn: The Hawks will bat deep again this year and their two hit-outs so far this summer would indicate that barring injuries, coach Clarkson will likely have up to 35 players this year to choose from. Derick Wanganeen, Will Langford, Alex Woodward, Tim O'Brien, Jon Ceglar and Angus Litherland have shown enough so far this summer to suggest they will be handy depth players this year, and perhaps more than that.
Majak Daw is a crowd favourite. The crowed stirred when he ran on to the ground in the first quarter and oohs and aahs greeted his every move on the ground. Sadly, one Hawthorn supporter didn't get it and was evicted from the ground for abusing the Sudanese-born big man
. The big question for the Kangas is whether he, Daniel Currie, Aaron Black and Petrie can all co-exist in the forward line. North will need to mix and match things to make it work, because seven goals in this outing was a poor result.
Hawthorn: Taylor Duryea and Matt Suckling were the clubhouse leaders in the race to replace the now retired Brent Guerra in the Hawthorn backline. But Derick Wanganeen showed a bit on Friday night, with some run and carry through the backline. He is on the rookie list for now, but the Hawks have scope to bring him on to the senior list before the start of the season once Brendan Whitecross is placed on the long-term injury list. Meanwhile, Tim O'Brien kicked three goals and looked great on the lead.
North Melbourne: Not a whole lot on the new player front. Robbie Nahas had 13 possesions and Joel Tippett 10, but neither was prominent.
HAWTHORN 0.6.2 0.8.5 0.13.9 0.18.10 (118)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.1.2 0.3.5 0.5.7 0.7.11 (53)
North Melbourne: Nil
Hawthorn: Shiels 3, Langford 3, O'Brien 3, Roughead 2, Hale, Simpkin, Gunston, Breust, Lewis, Ceglar, Hallahan
North Melbourne: Black 3, Wells, Petrie, Thomas, Currie
Hawthorn: Langford, Shiels, Mitchell, Hill, Rioli, Hale, Lewis
North Melbourne: Black, Cunnington, McDonald, Wells, Dal Santo,
North Melbourne: Garner (hamstring)
Umpires: Fisher, Pannell, Stevic, Fisher
Official crowd: 4000 at Aurora Stadium