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Hawks smash Freo's B-side

HAWTHORN clinically disposed of an under-strength Fremantle side by 116 points at Aurora Stadium in Launceston on Saturday.

Freo rested seven players for the clash, including skipper Matthew Pavlich, and veteran midfielder Paul Hasleby was a late withdrawal from a side that had no answers to the Hawks' dominance in the 24.11 (155) to 5.9 (39) demolition.

Despite the assertive performance, Hawthorn finished the match with injury clouds over Luke Hodge and Grant Birchall who both watched much of the final term from the bench.

Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson confirmed post-match that he expects Birchall to miss at least a couple of weeks with a hamstring tear, potentially ruling the rebounding half-back out of finals action.

“That’s a disappointing aspect of the game as he was up and going and playing quite well for us,” Clarkson said.

“You play in this brutal game and you’re going to get injuries and unfortunately for Birch he’s got an injury that will probably keep him out for a couple of weeks.”

The news was better with regards to star utility Hodge’s “wrenched knee”, with Clarkson declaring him an almost certain starter for the Round 22 clash against Collingwood next Saturday.

“He’s good as gold. We had the luxury late in the game we were that far in front that we could afford to take him off and leave him off,” Clarkson said.

While the Hawks finished the match a couple of men short, Freo took the field missing as many as 16 players that would normally find a spot in their best 22 and the imbalance in quality between the teams was quickly evident.

The Hawks picked their way through the Fremantle defensive zone with a mixture of handball and run, scoring some frighteningly easy goals on their way to a 32-point quarter-time lead.

Lance Franklin kicked two opening term goals and finished the match with five to lead all scorers.

Hopelessly outclassed around the ground, Freo's day got even worse midway through the first term when Tim Ruffles, who came in for Hasleby, injured his knee after a heavy bump from Campbell Brown and left the game.

For the Hawks, Shaun Burgoyne proved particularly damaging, collecting 20 disposals to half time and regularly starting forward thrusts with clean work at the stoppages. He finished the game clearly best afield with 37 disposals, 11 contested possessions and four goals.

“It was a very polished performance from him today,” Clarkson said. “He’s got really good match fitness over the course of the second half of the season and his form over the last five or six weeks has been really good for us.

“He’s a class act and hopefully he can maintain that type of form in the last few weeks of the season.”

When the stylish midfielder pounced on a neat tap and kicked his second from 20m, the Hawks had stretched their lead beyond 10 goals and there was still five minutes to play before half time.

The third quarter started in similarly ominous fashion for the visitors with Roughead nailing the second of his four goals following a good lead and mark 40m out. His was one of many marks snapped up by Hawk forwards inside 50m as Freo defenders struggled to come to terms with their dominant opposition.

As the game began to meander during the mid-stages of the third term, fan favourite Cyril Rioli bobbed up to volley an acrobatic goal and assure himself another nomination for goal of the year. His was one of six Hawthorn goals for the quarter with the lead out to 106 points at three-quarter time.

Dylan Roberton, Michael Johnson and Ryan Murphy managed to add to Johnson’s second-term goal as the game petered out, but Fremantle’s final score of 5.9 (39) was easily their lowest score in seven trips to Tasmania.

The Hawks booted another six in the final term to easily surpass their previous highest score at Aurora Stadium, registered earlier this year against the Crows, and easily top their greatest winning margin on the ground in the 116-point romp.

Hawthorn     5.4   12.8   18.11   24.11   (155)
Fremantle     0.2   1.5   1.7   5.9   (39)

Franklin 5, Roughead 4, Burgoyne 4, Rioli 3, Whitecross 2, Lewis 2, Ellis, Hodge, Gilham, Bateman
Fremantle: Johnson 2, Murphy 2, Roberton

Burgoyne, Rioli, Gibson, Mitchell, Franklin, Roughead, Bateman
Fremantle: Broughton, Johnson, Duffield

Birchall (hamstring), Hodge (knee)
Fremantle: Ruffles (knee)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Kennedy, Ryan, Jeffrey

Official crowd: TBC at Aurora Stadium

The views in this story are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL.