Luke Hodge leads out Hawthorn against Collingwood
HAWTHORN has made a reasonable fist of its tough start to 2013, but knows things aren't about to get any easier, Hawks captain Luke Hodge says.
Hodge spoke with AFL.com.au after the Hawks came from 22 points behind in the second quarter to beat Collingwood by 55 points at the MCG on Sunday.
The victory over Collingwood came on the back of a trip to Perth a week earlier when the Hawks overwhelmed West Coast by 50 points just six days after they blew a 30-point lead to lose to nemesis Geelong by seven points.
Three of last year's finalists in the first three rounds is a tough assignment by anyone's standards.
But Hodge is mindful the Hawks play their other four rivals from the 2012 finals series – Fremantle, North Melbourne, Adelaide and the Sydney Swans – in the next four rounds.
"I think we've played pretty good football for the most part," Hodge said.
"Even with the Geelong game, sitting back watching it I actually thought we were pretty good for most of the day. They took a lot of their chances and we missed a few and probably went to sleep at stages during the second half.
"But as far as the West Coast game it was a pretty solid game of football and obviously today, aside for the first quarter and a half, our last two and a half quarters were impressive.
"We always realised our first month, two months of football, was going to be pretty tough.
"Now we've got a six-day break before we head down to Tassie to play Freo. Freo are an impressive side, their second half of last year was outstanding.
"Obviously it was a disappointing finish for them on Friday, but you know what you're going to get from them defensively, they're right on you and it's going to be a tough game I think."
Hodge said the Hawks had not panicked when Collingwood dominated the start of Sunday's match, knowing momentum in games can now swing so quickly.
"You've seen even early on this year teams have been a long way behind, but as long as you stick to your guns, keep working hard and doing the right things, you're always going to get opportunities to come back," Hodge said.
"We worked hard over the last 10 minutes of that second quarter and got ourselves back into the game after they'd had the run of it.
"I thought our second half was pretty calculated. We took some risks, but it was some smart football. We slowed it down when we had to, but I thought we controlled the pace throughout the second half."
The highlight of the Hawks' second half came at the 18-minute mark of the third quarter, when Brent Guerra roosted a torpedo punt from the kick-in to Ben Stratton in the centre.
Stratton handballed straight to Lance Franklin, who jumped over an opponent on the ground, before sprinting clear and bombing a goal from well outside 50m.
Like every Hawthorn and neutral fan among the 72,254 at the MCG, Hodge enjoyed the moment.
"I think that's the best part about our game," Hodge said.
"We can be shut down for a whole half and all it takes is one or two things like that and people go away and think 'How good was that game?!'
"The way teams move the ball these days you're always going to get freaky goals like that, but it's always handy when you've got blokes like 'Buddy' (Franklin) who can run and jump and do the miracle things."
Nick Bowen covers Hawthorn news for AFL.com.au. Follow him at Twitter: @AFL_Nick