IF THERE has been a source of frustration with Hawthorn this year it has been that some healthy inside 50 numbers have not translated into particularly heavy scoring.
The Hawks cracked the ton in their opening two weeks, but it took until Saturday night’s 63-point thrashing of the Western Bulldogs for the Hawks to kick a triple-digit score once again.
Their 19.9 scoreline was the highest for the year and came in the same week that maestro Cyril Rioli retired from the game.
HAWKS FLY HIGH Full match coverage and stats
How’s the irony?
Saturday night was a throwback to the sort of footy the Hawks played during their premiership three-peat from 2013-15. Quick and skillful ball movement to a forward line queueing up to get among the action, even if No.33 wasn't one of them.
It was led by Luke Breust, who again underlined his All Australian credentials with an equal career-best six goals. He had four by quarter-time and was on track for at least double figures at one stage before he turned into Jason Dunstall and began giving the ball off to his teammates, only some of whom were in better positions.
"It would be nice if that happened every week," Breust said afterwards, paying tribute to Rioli.
"It was a special week and I channeled some of his magic to put on a performance like he has so often."
Breust had a few mates out there. Jack Gunston kicked four goals, as did skipper Jarryd Roughead in arguably his best performance of the year.
Roughead still gets judged on his pure offensive output, when he should be recognised more as a utility, with a role to play both as a mobile midfielder and ranging forward.
THIRD TERM'S A CHARM Five talking points
He still has some weapons and he earned major praise from coach Alastair Clarkson after the game.
"He was on the end of some good play further up the field but we rely on him to make some strong contests in the front end of the ground and particularly in the third and fourth quarters he did that really well and not just provide a target," he said.
"He created contests that allowed the smaller players to have some influence. He got stronger as the game went on."
It was mostly a good night for Hawthorn. The Hawks have this so-called 'favourable draw' but plenty of teams still to come such as Brisbane, Essendon and St Kilda are all running into some form. The Dogs were also in that category and it shaped as a 50-50 game but the third quarter, in which they kicked 7.4 to one behind, was as well as the Hawks have played all year.
Playing a 'six-six-six' formation rather than an extra defender helped, particularly as it took Jason Johannisen, who had 16 touches in a great second quarter, out of the game.
They were terrific in the midfield for large parts against the Bulldogs, who have troubled them in that area repeatedly the last few times they’ve met, but the complication now is that in-form ruckman Ben McEvoy, whose dominance in the middle really got the Hawks going, suffered a suspected fractured cheekbone and might miss a few games.
Forgotten pair Jonathan O’Rourke and Teia Miles both contributed and showed that if nothing else, they can be relied on if needed later in the year. James Sicily dominated after his standard indiscretion and 50-metre penalty with 12 marks and 28 touches, while fellow defender Ben Stratton was outstanding.
But they’re back in the eight for now and picked up five handy percentage points along the way.
They take that and prepare for the Lions in Launceston next Saturday. In case anyone needs reminding, they were stitched up by Luke Hodge and the Lions by 56 points in round nine.
Clarkson spoke to his team for several minutes after the game on Saturday night and it would come as no surprise if that embarrassing afternoon at the Gabba already got a mention.