Mitch Lewis celebrates a goal for Hawthorn against North Melbourne in R18, 2023.

THERE is a logjam in the middle of the ladder, but there is a gap at the bottom after Hawthorn put some distance between themselves and the other two – North Melbourne and West Coast – on Sunday. 

The Hawks overcame a sloppy first half in front of goal that won’t feature prominently on the Monday night shows, before flicking the switch after half-time to kick nine of the eleven second-half goals to cruise to a 48-point win over the Kangaroos that should have been even more.

After losing all three games without suspended skipper James Sicily, Sam Mitchell’s side returned to the winners list to hand North Melbourne a 15th straight defeat after the 12.16 (88) to 6.4 (40) loss under the roof at Marvel Stadium. 

KANGAROOS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

While West Coast is the only side with just a solitary win on the board in 2023, the Kangaroos' unbeaten first fortnight feels like it happened in another season, with Hawthorn ending that run back in round three, before moving three games clear of the Roos after round 18.


North Melbourne also lost two of its most watchable players to injuries, with young gun George Wardlaw subbed out the game in the second quarter due to hamstring tightness, before Cam Zurhaar exited the game shortly after half-time, while Callum Coleman-Jones suffered a concussion late and Jackson Archer injured his hamstring.

James Worpel produced another performance that should work in his favour at the negotiation table in the coming weeks and months.

The out-of-contract gun has returned to the levels he reached when he won the Peter Crimmins Medal in 2019, finishing with 32 disposals, 12 contested possessions, seven clearances, 702 metres gained and a goal.

Karl Amon was devastating on the outside with 33 disposals, 813 metres gained and a goal, while Jai Newcombe went to work on the inside, finishing with 33 touches, 14 contested possessions and seven clearances.


It was far from pretty early – and for most of the first half. Darcy Tucker kicked the first goal of the game after North Melbourne absorbed the first eight inside 50 entries of the game, before making the most of the Kangaroos’ first entry. But it was all Hawthorn for the rest of the first quarter. The Hawks amassed 25 inside 50 entries to just four and should have put the game to bed, but they didn’t capitalise on the scoreboard, reaching the first change with 3.8 on the board.

But when it felt gloomy under the lid in Docklands, North Melbourne kicked the first two goals of the second term, the second after Luke Davies-Uniacke mopped up and danced around a few Hawks to snap a goal, injecting life into a fixture that had plenty of spark. Despite reaching the main break with 21 fewer inside 50s on the board, the Kangaroos were only a goal behind after kicking all three of the second quarter.


After almost an hour between Hawthorn goals, Mitch Lewis kicked two goals in two minutes early in the third quarter, the first from the top of the goal square, the second from just beyond 50m, helping Hawthorn regain the ascendancy after a quarter to forget.

POST-MATCH Roos sweating on scan results after injury carnage

When Amon struck a long range shot flush on the run, Hawthorn had three in quick succession and suddenly had a four-goal lead, amid a quarter of carnage where Zurhaar and Liam Shiels both came from the ground with ankle injuries, after Fergus Greene was subbed out with a knee injury.


Ratten opted to stay on the interchange bench for the final quarter rather than heading upstairs and was forced to endure a moment early in the final quarter that summed up the Kangaroos’ day when Jack Ziebell and Luke McDonald collided while trying to cut off a Hawthorn entry that ended up in another Breust goal despite maximum effort from the Roos, but awful execution.

In the end, the margin didn’t reflect Hawthorn’s dominance. The Hawks finished with 29 more inside 50s, 23 more contested possessions, 18 more intercept marks and led for all but 69 seconds of a lacklustre affair at Marvel Stadium. It is going to be a long six weeks ahead for North Melbourne.

Four father-sons at North Melbourne
There was a father-son theme for North Melbourne on Sunday. Brett Ratten selected four father-son recruits against Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium, recalling Jackson Archer to join Cooper Harvey, Bailey Scott and Luke McDonald in the 23. After taking five contested marks on debut against Geelong last Sunday, the son of the games record-holder followed up with 13 touches, while the son of the 'Shinboner of the Century' had some decent moments in his return game.

Jackson Archer in action during round 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Hammy concern for Wardlaw
George Wardlaw has been one of the few reasons to remain interested in North Melbourne during the winter months, but the 2022 No. 4 pick didn’t reach half-time. The Roos subbed Wardlaw late in the second quarter due to hamstring tightness, which will leave some North supporters nervous. Wardlaw missed a large chunk of his draft year due to multiple hamstring strains, didn’t complete the pre-season at Arden Street and had a delayed start to his debut season.


Bang, bang
After 50 minutes of play without a Hawthorn goal – and ten behinds in that time – there was pressure on the Hawks’ first set shot of the second half. Mitch Lewis didn’t disappoint. He took a mark deep inside 50, slotted the goal, and then kicked a second from 50m out minutes later. Lewis missed the first six games of the season due a pre-season ACL strain, but has now kicked 27 goals for the year from 11 appearances to salvage a season that started in frustrating fashion. Only six players have averaged more goals than the 24-year-old who is going at 2.45 a week in 2023.



NORTH MELBOURNE     1.1    4.1       5.2       6.4      (40)
HAWTHORN                    3.8    3.13     8.14     12.16   (88)

North Melbourne:
Curtis 2, Tucker, Larkey, Ford, Davies-Uniacke
Hawthorn: Lewis 3, Breust 3, Worpel, Impey, Grainger-Barras, Brockman, Amon, Macdonald

North Melbourne:
Davies-Uniacke, Scott, Sheezel, Ford, Shiels
Worpel, Amon, Newcombe, Impey, Frost, Nash, Hardwick, Nash

North Melbourne:
Wardlaw (hamstring), Zurhaar (ankle), Shiels (ankle), Coleman-Jones (concussion), Archer (hamstring)
 Greene (knee), Reeves (hand)

North Melbourne:
Hawthorn: Lloyd Meek replaced Max Ramsden (illness) in the selected side

North Melbourne: 
Jack Ziebell replaced George Wardlaw in the second quarter
 Denver Grainger-Barras replaced Fergus Greene in third quarter

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