DEFENSIVELY disciplined Hawthorn has strangled the life out of the more-fancied GWS to score an upset 33-point AFL victory at the MCG.
The powerbrokers at AFL House won’t be thrilled by Sunday’s dour, low-scoring encounter but the Hawks won’t care after they grinding the Giants into submission for a 10.11 (71) to 5.8 (38) win in front of a disappointing 14,636 fans.
The super-charged Giants were the free-wheeling, highest-scoring team of the competition going into the match, but master coach Alastair Clarkson made sure they encountered roadblocks at every turn with an ultra-defensive game plan.
Runaway Coleman Medal leader Jeremy Cameron was left with a bloodied head after one encounter and held goalless by James Frawley as Hawthorn kept GWS to their lowest score of the season.
Jeremy Finlayson booted the Giants’ only goal of the second half, his third major coming after the final siren.
Former Crow Ricky Henderson continued his impressive season to lead the way with 36 possessions, and James Sicily was important down back with 27 disposals, while also sneaking forward for a late goal.
The Hawks’ performance was even more impressive considering gun midfielder Jaeger O’Meara was unable to have his usual influence, kept to 15 possessions by Matt De Boer.
Stephen Coniglio had 30 touches for GWS, but he had precious little support in a lacklustre display.
Clarkson declared his side middle of the road after last week’s disappointing loss to Melbourne but they were anything but as they stymied the Giants from the outset.
With Jarryd Roughead dropped and Chad Wingard injured, Clarkson swung the changes inside attacking 50.
Ruckmen Ben McEvoy and Jon Ceglar took turns resting up forward and Jarman Impey switched from defence to attack, with the latter booting consecutive goals to help the Hawks to a 10-point lead at the first break.
Finlayson booted two goals as GWS started to show signs of life in the second term to close the gap to seven points at halftime, but Leon Cameron’s men couldn’t muster a goal in the third quarter.
The Hawks only managed two majors, but that was enough to extend their lead to 22 points at three-quarter time.
On a good day, the Giants are capable of reeling in such a margin in quick time but they couldn’t fire a shot.
Ceglar booted his first and second goals of the season to start the final term, effectively securing the premiership points.
Hawthorn premiership winger Isaac Smith was a late withdrawal with a foot injury, replaced by Harry Morrison.
© AAP 2019
HAWTHORN 3.1 5.5 7.9 10.11 (71)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.3 4.4 4.5 5.8 (38)
Goals: Hawthorn: J Ceglar 2 J Impey 2 J Cousins J Gunston J O’Meara J Sicily L Breust M Lewis. Greater Western Sydney: J Finlayson 3 D Lloyd T Greene.
Best: Hawthorn: R Henderson J Frawley J Sicily B McEvoy J Cousins L Shiels J Worpel. Greater Western Sydney: S Coniglio J Kelly H Shaw J Hopper J Finlayson.
Injuries: Hawthorn: I Smith (foot – late withdrawal). Greater Western Sydney: J Cameron (shoulder, head).
Reports: Hawthorn: J Frawley (Hawthorn) for rough conduct on J Cameron (GWS) in the first quarter. Greater Western Sydney: Nil.
Official Crowd: 14,636 at MCG.