A BLISTERING start and five goals from an inspired Jack Gunston has propelled Hawthorn to a 46-point victory over battler North Melbourne. 

The Hawks slotted eight unanswered goals in the first quarter at Hobart's Blundstone Arena on Saturday, with the Kangaroos failing to back up last round's upset over Richmond under caretaker coach Leigh Adams. 

KANGAROOS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

Playing his first match following two weeks off after the sudden death of his father, three-time premiership winner Gunston was a shining light in the 19.7 (121) to 11.9 (75) result. 

07:13 Mins
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Highlights: North Melbourne v Hawthorn

The Kangaroos and Hawks clash in round 19

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The 30-year-old fittingly opened the scoring and pointed to the heavens to pay tribute to his father Ray, who was a former executive at the AFL. 

Gunston's best came in the fourth quarter from a set shot from the boundary line, as the Hawks registered their third win on the trot. 

02:33 Mins
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Gunston gallant in return with superb five-goal bag

Jack Gunston shows all his class in his return match for the Hawks with a memorable performance

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Busy Hawthorn midfielder Jai Newcombe picked up two goals, 30 disposals and nine clearances.

North Melbourne, which parted ways with coach David Noble less than a fortnight ago, was dealt a late blow when key forward Nick Larkey was ruled out with a heel problem.

Larkey had been under an injury cloud after being subbed out in the drought-breaking win over Richmond but made the trip south to Hobart.

His replacement Aaron Hall picked up an equal team-high 30 disposals.

Tempers flared in the fourth quarter when several Hawthorn players objected to North Melbourne's Jy Simpkin flinging one of their teammates to the ground. 

00:43 Mins
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Simpkin sparks interchange brawl as Davies-Uniacke gets his first

Luke Davies-Uniacke kicks his first goal of the match after Jy Simpkin kicked off a melee against the Hawks

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Hawthorn racked up a 49-3 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Kangaroos clawed back some momentum by winning the second term with two goals to the Hawks' single major.

However, the Hawks got rolling again in the third, with Gunston contributing two goals. 

North Melbourne fans had something to cheer about when 20-year-old Phoenix Spicer kicked his maiden goal in the third quarter.

00:46 Mins
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Spicer scores career first to open second half

Phoenix Spicer puts through the first goal of his career with a superb set shot

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Skipper Jack Ziebell booted three in front of a crowd of 9713. 

The Kangaroos remain anchored to the foot of the ladder with two wins for the season and next meet Essendon, while Hawthorn plays top-eight hopeful St Kilda. 

Gunston's touching tribute to late father
It was a welcome return to the park for Hawthorn sharpshooter Jack Gunston, who played a critical role in his team's big win in Tassie. The 30-year-old finished the day with five goals and four behinds from 17 disposals and seven marks in a best-on-ground performance. Gunston kicked the first goal of the game and fittingly paid a heartfelt tribute to his dad Ray, who passed away suddenly earlier this month, by kissing his armband and pointing skyward. "It was good to be (on the field). That’s the beauty of being at a footy club, you’ve got great support," Gunston told Fox Footy after the match. "My family has had a lot of support over the last two weeks. We've been incredibly grateful for everyone reaching out. Some people go through this and don’t have the support that we’ve been fortunate to have."

Phoenix rises to the occasion
It was largely a day to forget for the Kangaroos but there was a moment of joy for the battling side when Phoenix Spicer booted his first AFL goal in his second senior game. Taken with pick No.42 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft, the 20-year-old got his name on the scoresheet with a composed set shot early in the third term, and as is customary, was mobbed by teammates.

Phoenix Spicer celebrates his first AFL goal during the round 19 clash between North Melbourne and Hawthorn on July 23, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Is the Rising Star race really over?
Nick Daicos is, quite rightly, the leading contender for this year's crown but Jai Newcombe is clearly second in line. The 2021 mid-season recruit has swiftly become one of Hawthorn's most damaging players and is one of just four Hawks to have played every game this year. His performance against the Roos only added to his stature, amassing 30 disposals - 15 contested - two goals, nine clearances, seven inside 50s, 580 metres gained.

NORTH MELBOURNE            0.3       2.5       4.8       11.9 (75)
HAWTHORN                   8.1       9.4       14.5     19.7 (121)

GOALS  
North Melbourne: Ziebell 3, Davies-Uniacke 2, Horne-Francis, Taylor, Spicer, Powell, , Stephenson, Zurhaar
Hawthorn: Gunston 5, Reeves 2, Newcombe 2, Morrison 2, Breust 2, O'Meara 2, Impey, Lewis, Maginness, Mitchell

BEST  
North Melbourne: Davies-Uniacke, Hall, McKay, Ziebell, Scott, Anderson
Hawthorn: Gunston, Newcombe, Mitchell, Hardwick, O'Meara, Scrimshaw, Moore

INJURIES  
North Melbourne: Nil
Hawthorn: Nil

LATE CHANGES
North Melbourne: 
Nick Larkey (heel) replaced in selected side by Aaron Hall
Hawthorn: Nil

SUBSTITUTES  
North Melbourne: Charlie Lazzaro
Hawthorn: Tom Phillips