Nick Watson celebrates during the round 16 match between West Coast and Hawthorn at Optus Stadium, June 30, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN has continued its charge into finals contention with the team's biggest win of 2024, dismantling West Coast in clinical style at Optus Stadium to win a one-sided clash by 61 points on Sunday.

The Hawks, who never looked troubled after kicking the opening three goals, now boast the equal longest current winning streak alongside Carlton after five straight wins, and gained valuable percentage from the 14.10 (94) to 4.9 (33) win.

EAGLES v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

Their continuous climb from 17th place in round eight continued and the disciplined young team now sits half a game outside the top eight in 13th among a logjam of five teams with eight wins.

The Hawks stared down an Eagles midfield that was boosted by the returns of Tim Kelly and Harley Reid to dominate the clearance battle 38-19 and hardly gave West Coast a look out of centre bounces (14-4).


James Worpel (28 disposals and 11 clearances) and Jai Newcombe (33 and eight inside 50s) were outstanding alongside Conor Nash (25 and six clearances) in an even team performance that included 10 separate goalkickers.

It was an ugly performance from West Coast, which had a strong team on paper but hardly got its game going given its clearance strength was stripped away by a hungrier, more desperate Hawthorn team.


The Eagles relied on key defenders Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass to keep the margin under control throughout the first three quarters, but could not stop an onslaught of five unanswered goals to start the final term that put the game to bed. 

The defensive pair racked up a combined 10 intercept possessions in the first quarter and prevented an early blow-out, but it was clear from the opening 10 minutes that the Hawks were in control.


The visitors played the game in their front half with 17 inside 50s to eight in the first quarter, but a glut of wasted opportunities kept the margin to 17 points at quarter-time when it could have been much more.

Beaten 4-0 in centre clearances early, Adam Simpson threw Liam Ryan into the first bounce of the second quarter and got an immediate result, allowing Jamaine Jones to crumb inside 50 and get the home team rolling.


It was temporary, however, as Worpel and Newcombe asserted themselves in the middle soon enough. Indeed, Ryan's centre clearance would be the only one for West Coast in a scrappy first half marred by more missed chances.

Mabior Chol provided a highlight when he flew over Josh Rotham for a terrific pack mark, but the resulting set shot was sent wide.

Nick Watson, whose goalkicking has been an issue this season with 5.15 ahead of Sunday, stood up to slot a late opportunity from 45m, keeping Hawthorn’s buffer at a handy 17 points.

Nick Watson celebrates a goal during the round 16 match between West Coast and Hawthorn at Optus Stadium, June 30, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The second half was a procession at times as the Hawks used their bounce out of the back half to create scoring opportunities, kicking 4.4 to 1.0 in the third term as the Eagles struggled to defend on transition.

By the final term, any hope of a fightback in the style of their last home game against North Melbourne was dashed when Chol converted in the opening minutes to extend the margin to 45 points.


Sicily held back after shoulder injury 
Hawthorn captain James Sicily underwent rapid repairs late in the third quarter after hurting his shoulder innocuously in a marking contest with Liam Ryan late in the third quarter. The star defender went straight to the rooms but returned shortly after and was on the Hawks' bench to start the third quarter with plans of returning if needed. An early goal to Chol meant he wasn't required and the Hawks were hopeful he would be available to face Geelong at GMHBA Stadium next week. 


Team on paper means nothing
West Coast coach Adam Simpson warned pre-game that it "doesn't mean anything" to have a strong team on paper, with synergy something they were losing after recent changes. He could not have been more right, with the Eagles losing out in the two areas they should have been strongest. The centre bounce battle was the most glaring weakness upon the returns of Kelly and Reid, losing 14-4, and the overall clearances 38-19. The Eagles will hope that synergy now comes with their best available players, and the season doesn't drift away from here.


Home form deserts Eagles
The energy and excitement that West Coast had started to generate at home has gone missing, with a fourth-quarter fightback against North Melbourne the exception in a dispiriting three-game block at Optus Stadium. Home form returning was a positive sign in the Eagles' rebuild, but Sunday's effort lacked urgency and the team was burned on transition. With home clashes to come against Brisbane, Fremantle, Gold Coast and Carlton, wins in WA will be difficult from here. For all the improvement West Coast has made, the team is still on three wins and will need to improve significantly on Sunday's effort to build on that. 

Jamie Cripps after the round 16 match between West Coast and Hawthorn at Optus Stadium, June 30, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

WEST COAST           0.3   2.6   3.6   4.9 (33)
HAWTHORN            3.2   5.5   9.9   14.10 (94)

West Coast: Jones, McGovern, Waterman, Williams
Hawthorn: Moore 2, Chol 2, Ginnivan 2, Macdonald 2, Gunston, Hardwick, Jiath, Mackenzie, Meek, Watson

West Coast: McGovern, Barrass, Duggan, Hunt 
Hawthorn: Worpel, Newcombe, Day, Moore, Sicily, Nash, Meek

West Coast: Flynn (ankle), Waterman (knee)
Hawthorn: Sicily (shoulder)

West Coast: Ryan Maric (replaced Matt Flynn in the third quarter)
Hawthorn: Harry Morrison (replaced Calsher Dear in the third quarter)

Crowd: 49,454 at Optus Stadium