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Mid-season review: Hawthorn

Hawthorn's mid-season report card reporter Marc McGowan joins the team to discuss how the Hawks are tracking
Shaun Burgoyne and Jack Gunston have been left to shoulder plenty of the load for Hawthorn - AFL,Mid-season reviews,Hawthorn Hawks
Shaun Burgoyne and Jack Gunston have been left to shoulder plenty of the load for Hawthorn

The season so far

There was scepticism about Hawthorn's bold choice to let champions Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis go – on top of Brad Hill seeking a trade home to Western Australia – but few expected the Hawks to fall so quickly. They have lost four times by 51 points or more, own a dismal 4-8 win-loss record and are second-last despite playing an extra game than most of the bottom-eight clubs. Josh Gibson and maybe Luke Hodge are retirement-bound – Shaun Burgoyne seems likely to play on – but the positive is the emergence of NAB AFL Rising Star contender Ryan Burton, Tim O'Brien, Blake Hardwick, Daniel Howe and James Cousins, and the continued development of Kaiden Brand. Ex-Swan Tom Mitchell has been nothing short of outstanding, including an extraordinary 50-disposal outing against Collingwood in round nine.

Quarters won: 20 (out of 48)

Players used: 35 (equal League-high)

Yet to play: Jonathon Ceglar, Conor Glass, Oliver Hanrahan, Mitchell Lewis, Kieran Lovell, Harry Morrison, Conor Nash, Jonathan O'Rourke, Marc Pittonet, Luke Surman

Stats leaders

Disposals: Tom Mitchell (423)
Marks: Tom Mitchell (72)
Goals: Jarryd Roughead and Luke Breust (19)
Tackles: Tom Mitchell (86)
Metres gained: Isaac Smith (478.6)
Forward woes: Hawthorn ranks second-last in inside 50 efficiency and marks inside 50

Best win

Round 10 against Sydney. An eighth lost third quarter for the year saw Sydney overrun Hawthorn, but the brown and gold rose to the challenge in the dying minutes to claim a morale-boosting triumph.

One that got away

Round nine against Collingwood. A depleted Hawks line-up led an out-of-sorts Collingwood by 43 points early in the second term, but fell apart amid the Pies' second-half heroics.

Best and fairest leader: Tom Mitchell

Surprise packet: Ryan Burton

Who's struggling: Josh Gibson, Ty Vickery, Billy Hartung, James Sicily, Taylor Duryea, Will Langford

Dejected Hawks have become a familiar sight this year. Picture: AFL Photos

Missing in action

There are many candidates, but Grant Birchall (three games) and prized recruit Jaeger O'Meara (four) have played seven matches between them. Both should return shortly after the round 13 bye.

The concern

Third quarters remain a major issue for the Hawks, who have won just three out of 12 this season. The opposition had more scoring shots in two of those winning terms. Coach Alastair Clarkson is yet to publicly offer a theory for what is going wrong, only repeatedly offering a gimmicky line about [insert name of journalist who asks the question] replacing him if they could figure it out.

Pass mark

It's all about the kids now. Once you start talking about Hawthorn still 'mathematically' being able to make the top eight, you know its hopes are as good as shot. Even the coach's words are less gung-ho in recent times about a late-season revival. Some of the young players look better than advertised, so hopefully they will get an extended senior run.

The coach

Alastair Clarkson has shown unwavering belief in many of those who served him well in the past, but injuries and poor form from some lesser names have forced his hand at selection. Has spoken twice in the past week about his confidence that the core of this playing list can form a successful Hawks line-up in the near future.

How the best 22 has changed

Seven of the below team – Frawley, Stratton, Birchall, Rioli, O'Meara, Hodge and Breust – didn't play in the last-start Gold Coast loss. Frawley and Rioli are still many weeks away and Clarkson hinted the latter may not return this year. O'Brien, who has enjoyed a breakout season, beats Vickery for a berth, while Hodge comes into the best 22 after a club suspension cost him his round one place. Young guns Burton, Howe and Hardwick demand selection. Kaiden Brand is unlucky, but will be a big part of the future defensive structure.

B: Ryan Burton, James Frawley, Luke Hodge
HB: Josh Gibson, Ben Stratton, Grant Birchall
C: Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Jack Gunston
HF: Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, Shaun Burgoyne
F: Paul Puopolo, Tim O'Brien, Luke Breust
Foll: Ben McEvoy, Liam Shiels, Jaeger O'Meara
I/C: Daniel Howe, Blake Hardwick, James Sicily, Ricky Henderson

In from pre-season best 22: Luke Hodge, Ryan Burton, Blake Hardwick, Daniel Howe, Tim O'Brien

Out from pre-season best 22: Taylor Duryea, Kade Stewart, Billy Hartung, Will Langford, Ty Vickery

Who did we tip for your club's best 22 in round one? 

Hawk fans: what's your mid-season verdict?

Share your views via the form below and we'll publish the best responses on the morning of Hawthorn's next match.

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