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Five talking points: Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs

Ben Collins  August 25, 2017 10:49 PM

Highlights: Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs The Hawks and Bulldogs clash in round 23
AFL 2017 Round 23 - Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs

Luke Hodge leaves Etihad Stadium for the final time

1. Dogs drop out of finals hunt
It was always going to be tough for the Bulldogs to make the finals given their destiny was out of their hands, but their hopes of claiming a berth in the final eight and perhaps repeating last year's heroics were finally extinguished by the Hawks. The Dogs became just the second reigning premier in the 2000s to miss the finals the next season. The other was Hawthorn in 2009, and this is the first time since then that the Hawks have missed the finals. It was a good night for the Hawks but they'll finish 12th, their worst effort since 2005 – Alastair Clarkson's first season as coach. It's easy to imagine both clubs bouncing back next season.

Full match coverage and stats

2. Thanks for the memories, 'Hodgey', Bob and 'Boydy'
Footy farewelled more than a thousand games of AFL experience when Hawks champion Luke Hodge and Dogs heroes Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd played their last games, and Hawk Josh Gibson did a lap of honour at half-time. On an emotional night for both clubs, Hawks fans were treated to an hour of Hodge highlights pre-match and the teams played with a specially designed ball that paid tribute to the four-time premiership star, who was relatively quiet but directed traffic with his usual purpose and, like his fellow retirees, was applauded each time he went near the ball by a record home-and-away crowd between the clubs. There was a nice moment in the first term when Boyd (who had a game-high 33 possessions) passed to Murphy, who goaled from 50 and was mobbed by his teammates. 

WATCH: Hodge and Bob's final salute

3. Mitchell stretches disposal record
In a phenomenal first season for Hawthorn, Tom Mitchell extended his disposal tally – unprecedented since 1965 – to 787, well clear of the previous record of 748 set by Collingwood star Wayne Richardson in 1971 (which Mitchell eclipsed last week). An astounding feat given the pressure on the former Swan to perform following the departures of club greats Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis, and the injury troubles of fellow recruit Jaeger O'Meara. The 24-year-old Brownlow Medal contender actually had a quiet game by his standards, gathering a team-high 32 possessions. His record will take some beating.

4. 'Roughy' on fire in early goal-fest
There was something different about this contest from the opening bounce when the Bulldogs started the game without wingmen, coach Luke Beveridge preferring to have eight backmen. (He later tried eight forwards.) A free-flowing contest ensued and in the opening 15 minutes there were seven goals (four to Hawthorn, three to the Dogs). By quarter-time the Hawks led by eight points and the star was skipper Jarryd Roughead, who'd amassed nine possessions, five marks and three goals – each of them game-high tallies. Unusually, there were five multiple goalkickers in the first half, the others being Dogs Liam Picken (three) and Lachie Hunter (two) and Hawks Paul Puopolo and Isaac Smith (two each). Roughead finished with a season-high bag of five, including one that kept the Dogs at bay in the final term.

The final twist: Where will your club finish in 2017?

5. Milestones – O’Meara's half-century and two debutants
Jaeger O'Meara's 50th game was a long time coming. After playing all 44 games in his first two seasons with Gold Coast, the midfield prodigy missed two seasons with knee problems and has played just six for the Hawks after another injury-hampered season. In his second game back, the 23-year-old had 25 touches and 11 tackles, including nine of them in the first half. O'Meara also played in a winning team for the first time since round 19, 2014. Both clubs also unveiled debutants, with hard-running Hawk Harry Morrison performing strongly with 21 possessions and appearing a bargain pick-up at No. 74 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, while Dogs forward Patrick Lipinski had 18 touches. Both youngsters missed multiple shots at goal, with Lipinski spraying an early chance from long range that would have put him in the goal-with-his-first-kick club.