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Melbourne Football Club

Hawthorn run out winners at the 'G

CYRIL Rioli was injured for the second half, James Frawley played under duress, Paul Puopolo pinged a hamstring and Tom Mitchell was (relatively) quiet. But still Hawthorn was far too good for Melbourne on Sunday, showing themselves to be a genuine finals aspirant whilst in the process casting doubt over the Dees' credentials.

Hawthorn's comprehensive 67-point belting at a wet MCG came after a slow start, but saw the Hawks keep Melbourne goalless for the second and third quarters and to only one goal after quarter-time. The 18.7 (115) to 6.12 (48) victory was the Hawks' third of what has been a very promising start to the season.

But it looks set to come at a cost, with Rioli not appearing after half-time after suffering a medial ligament injury in his knee and Puopolo leaving the field in the third term with a hamstring strain. Frawley, too, missed the complete second quarter as he battled a migraine, but returned in the second half as an option in attack.

While they will be concerns for the Hawks in coming weeks, Melbourne has its own problems, having been totally outplayed after quarter-time. Their limp effort saw them concede 15 goals to one after the first change and leaves them at 2-2, having beaten Brisbane and North Melbourne, two clubs predicted to be towards the bottom of the ladder.

So ineffective was Melbourne after their early burst that Hawthorn was able to do as it pleased for the rest of the game. Their midfield, led by Liam Shiels (31 disposals, 14 tackles) and Jaeger O'Meara (26 disposals), won the battle, while Luke Bruest (four goals), Tom O'Brien and Jarryd Roughead (three each) also chipped in.

The Dees were able to nullify Mitchell's influence – he 'only' had 24 disposals and didn't reach the 40-possession barrier for the fourth consecutive week – but it didn't matter.

"We got some opportunities, none of them were pretty goals, but we were able to grind away and get some scoreboard pressure and that pressure ended up overwhelming Melbourne in the end and we were able to run out pretty comfortable winners," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said.

Jesse Hogan started in brilliant form for the Dees and tried hard throughout, gathering 24 disposals and spending more time up the ground, while Clayton Oliver (30) and Christian Petracca (23) were handy. In his first senior game of the year Angus Brayshaw was also solid with 19 touches.

"It was as disappointing a day as what you've seen from our club," coach Simon Goodwin said.

"I thought Hawthorn were terrific. They handled the conditions better. They structurally set up better.

"It certainly didn't reflect any of the way that we'd played for a while now, so that was disappointing and we went away from some of the things that have been really critical to us."

Few would have predicted how the game would pan out after Melbourne's early onslaught. Hogan was running hot, gathering 12 disposals in the first quarter as Melbourne got out to a 12-point lead at the opening change.

Small forward Dean Kent booted three of the Dees' five goals for the quarter, but in the wet the Hawks were also difficult to contain when the ball swept forward, with Breust scoring two goals for the term.

Hawthorn tightened the screws in the second term, keeping the Dees goalless while booting four of their own. It set up an eight-point lead at the main break for Clarkson's men, who made the most of their opportunities and squeezed the Demons' space.

The Hawks' 12 scoring shots from 23 inside-50 entries in the first half was in contrast to Melbourne's 14 from nine more forward-50 forwards, highlighting their efficiency as they piled on five unanswered goals from late in the first quarter and throughout the second to deserve their advantage.

The rut continued for Melbourne in the third term, with the Demons kept to two behinds for the quarter. It was hard to believe the Dees were able to play so freely at the start of the game and then be strangled by the Hawks for the rest of the contest.

What made Hawthorn's defensive effort more commendable was its own ability to keep scoring. Its four goals in the second term saw it take a 32-point lead into the final quarter which, given the slippery conditions and previous two quarters, was an unassailable margin.

Melbourne would require a fourth-quarter miracle but there was none forthcoming. Alex Neal-Bullen's goal at the seven-minute mark was their first since Christian Salem kick truly at the 29-minute mark of the opening term, but it was only an entrée to more Hawthorn dominance: they kicked the next six goals to end the contest.

In a game that appeared likely to be a good test of Melbourne's standing, Goodwin's side failed to deliver. The Hawks, however, produced a reminder that while other teams around the competition are tipped to rise up the ladder, they deserve some recognition too.

James Frawley sat out the whole second quarter with what was reported as a migraine, but he returned in the second half and played out the game. Cyril Rioli injured his knee in the second quarter and is expected to have a stint on the sidelines, while Paul Puopolo strained his hamstring in the third term and played no further part. Both will have scans early this week to determine the extent of their injuries.

Melbourne: Neville Jetta limped from the field in the third term with an ankle concern, but returned to the ground and played out the game in what seemed the only concern throughout the day for the Dees.

The Hawks face North Melbourne next Sunday at Etihad Stadium, while the Demons have a longer break before taking on Richmond next Tuesday night in the now annual Anzac Day eve clash at the MCG. 

HAWTHORN   3.5       7.5       11.7     18.7 (115)
MELBOURNE  5.5       5.9       5.11     6.12 (48)

 Breust 4, Roughead 3, O'Brien 3, O'Meara 2, Smith 2, Gunston 2, Puopolo, Henderson
Melbourne: Kent 3, Hogan, Salem, Neal-Bullen

Hawthorn: Shiels, Gunston, O'Meara, Smith, Breust, Sicily, Mitchell
Melbourne: Oliver, Neal-Bullen, Hogan, N.Jones, Kent

Hawthorn: Frawley (migraine), Rioli (medial ligament), Puopolo (hamstring)
Melbourne: Jetta (leg)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Foot, Margetts, Chamberlain

Official crowd: 41,973 at the MCG