Main content
Melbourne Football Club

Talking Points: Haw v Melb

1. Shiels and O'Meara shine as Mitchell held in check
Hawks star Tom Mitchell was averaging 45.3 disposals per game in the first three rounds of the season, but he could not keep his astounding pace going on Sunday. Demons co-captain Nathan Jones, not Bernie Vince as had been speculated, did an excellent shutdown job in a run-with role, limiting Mitchell to just 24 disposals – although the star Hawk had 13 clearances in the process. With Mitchell not winning as much of the footy as he has done, Liam Shiels and Jaeger O'Meara were able to get going and serve it up to Melbourne. Shiels was best afield with his work around the stoppages (31 touches, six clearances) and pressure on the opposition (14 tackles) top shelf. O'Meara really got motoring in the second half and on a wet day his clean hands in congestion stood out. 

2. Hawks place a stranglehold on a powerless Dees
Melbourne led by 21 points halfway through the first quarter and had the game on its terms. But a drastic reversal in momentum saw the Demons go goalless in the second and third terms, with Alex Neal-Bullen finally breaking the shackles at the seven-minute mark of the final quarter. The Hawks' ability to setup behind the ball and stifle the Demons' ball movement was magnificent and a credit to coach Alastair Clarkson and the discipline of Hawthorn's players, who worked tirelessly all afternoon. The Demons could muster just six goals for the game, scoring 48 points as the Hawks blew the margin out in the final term to record a satisfying victory. Hawthorn has now won 15 of the last 16 clashes between the sides, eight of them coming by 50 points or more.

3. Wounded Hawks 
Hawthorn had the game comfortably in hand but injuries to Cyril Rioli (knee) and Paul Puopolo (hamstring) could be costly in the weeks to come. Rioli was not sighted after half-time after suffering a medial ligament to his left knee. It is the same knee in hurt in round eight last year that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Puopolo limped late in the third term, grabbing the back of his right hamstring. Both players were ruled out and took no part in the final quarter. Key tall James Frawley was also dealing with a migraine through most of the day, but soldiered on to at least take up a rotation. The severity of Rioli's injury is unknown at this stage, but Puopolo looks like he could spend a decent stint on the sidelines based upon the type of injury he sustained.

4. Lack of forward efficiency kills off Dees' early ascendancy
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin spoke during the week about the need for his team to improve its efficiency going inside 50. The Demons led the League for inside 50s over the first three rounds, but their ability to take full toll from those entries was again severely lacking and it cost them badly in the first half. After being well on top early, Melbourne over-possessed the football in the second quarter, as the Hawks set up effectively behind the ball. But where the Hawks were able to get back in the game, Melbourne staggered, and it was reflected in the stats. Hawthorn had 12 scoring shots from 23 inside 50s in the first half, while Melbourne had 14 scoring shots from 32 inside 50s. The Hawks finished the match with 25 scoring shots from 54 entries. The Demons had 18 scoring shots from 53 entries. Ugly reading for Melbourne supporters.

5. Mirra Mirra on the wall, who had to wait the longest of them all?
A whopping 1,489 draftees found a spot on an AFL list between David Mirra's first draft nomination in 2009 and when he was finally picked up last year. The 27-year-old lived out a dream he thought may never come, making his AFL debut against Melbourne on Sunday. The journeyman defender captained VFL affiliate side Box Hill from 2014 to 2017 before the Hawks took a punt on him with pick No.23 in last year's Rookie Draft. Mirra was solid in his first AFL game, spending time minding Melbourne spearhead Jesse Hogan with James Frawley not at 100 per cent. Mirra finished his day with 17 disposals and a game-high 12 one-percenters.