Brodie Grundy celebrates a goal during the round nine clash between Hawthorn and Melbourne at the MCG on May 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE has downed Hawthorn by 54 points at the MCG on Sunday, but the 15.13 (103) to 7.7 (49) result didn't come without some promising positives for the Hawks.

The Demons led from the outset, although not as convincingly as they could have with their first five scoring shots all behinds.

However, they soon found their radar and finished the first half 45 points ahead, Hawthorn with just one major on the board and looking way out of its depth.

HAWKS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

With just one goal to half-time something clicked for Hawthorn after the long break, and by the midway point of the third term the Hawks had slotted five more goals in an exciting and irrepressible burst.


Eventually the energy shift subsided and Melbourne steadied the ship on the way to its fourth consecutive win ahead of a massive clash against Port Adelaide next round.

Midfield stars Clayton Oliver (34 disposals), Christian Petracca (30) and Jack Viney (31) were all important in delivering a result that could leave the Demons (7-2) sitting on top of the ladder at the end of round nine.


Harry Petty kicked two majors before he was substituted out of the game with a bruised foot.

Charlie Spargo and Bayley Fritsch also finished with two, and All-Australian defender Steven May marshalled the backline in his 200th game.

A sixth-straight defeat was another bitter pill for the Hawks to swallow in a tough season.


They were well off the pace in the first half, with their woes compounded by injury issues for James Blanck (corked quad) and late withdrawal Ned Reeves (ankle).

Jai Newcombe could also come under scrutiny from the Match Review Officer for a jab to Oliver's stomach at a centre bounce.

Newcombe (26 disposals), Will Day (29) and James Worpel (26) breathed life into the contest in the third term during a brief period that will give Hawthorn fans something to take away from the loss.


Better than even-Stevens
It's been a colourful first 200 games for Steven May, both an and off the field, but there's no doubting the influence the former Gold Coast captain has had on Melbourne since switching clubs at the end of 2018. Injury forced May to miss big chunks of his first two seasons in red and blue, which coincided with the club missing finals in 2019 and 2020, but he's played 52 of 58 since then, including the Demons' drought-breaking flag. Over that time Melbourne has a winning percentage of 83% when May's in the team and just 50% when he's missing, reflecting one of the most successful recruiting coups in the competition's recent history.

Steven May marks strongly during the round nine clash between Hawthorn and Melbourne at the MCG on May 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Glimpse of a promising future
There's no point sugar-coating it - the Hawks were horrible through the first half - but whatever Sam Mitchell said to his side in the long break, it had them run out a whole other outfit in the third quarter. With one goal to half-time they had another five on the board in the next 10 minutes of play, and while they still trailed by a massive margin, they had Melbourne rattled. When these young Hawks have a bit more match conditioning in their bodies, and if Mitchell can bottle his half-time tonic, they'll be troubling quality opposition on a regular basis.


Scoring spread wide across both lists
Melbourne's key forwards have had more changes this season than Kim Kardasian on a photo shoot, and Hawthorn is still trying to find the right mix among its young talent. This lack of big-name goalkickers saw Saturday's scoring spread among 19 different players - almost half of those that took the field. Harrison Petty, Charlie Spargo and Bayley Fritsch slotted two apiece, with nine other Demons and seven Hawks scoring singles. 


HAWTHORN    0.1    1.3     6.5      7.7 (49)
   5.5    8.6    11.9    15.13 (103)

Weddle, Meek, Mackenzie, Lewis, Butler, Breust, Newcombe
Petty 2, Spargo 2, Fritsch 2, Rivers, van Rooyen, Viney, Sparrow, Pickett, Oliver, Langdon, Grundy, Gawn

Sicily, Day, Newcombe, Hardwick, Nash, Mitchell
Viney, Petracca, Rivers, Oliver, Neal-Bullen, Brayshaw

Blanck (corked thigh), Jiath (leg)
Petty (foot), Petracca (foot)

Hawthorn: Ned Reeves replaced in selected side by Jacob Koschitzke
: Nil

Hawthorn: Lachlan Bramble (replaced James Blanck in the second quarter)
: James Jordon (replaced Harrison Petty at half-time)

Crowd: 39,818 at the MCG