Young gun goes down for Hawks as Tigers keep Clarkson’s men at arm’s length
This was one of those days where both teams could leave moderately satisfied. Richmond, shooting for a fourth premiership in five years, never looked like losing. The Tigers kicked the first three goals of the game and at that point what started as a very difficult task for the rebuilding Hawthorn had become extremely difficult.
It would have been no shock from that point had the Tigers gone on from there to thrash the Hawks, especially in near-perfect late March conditions and with the game having been transformed to facilitate a return to more regular triple-digit totals.
So that Hawthorn did not concede consecutive goals again until Jack Riewoldt steered through his third of the day, six minutes into the final term, should be viewed a victory of sorts for the Hawks, whose coach Alastair Clarkson declared on the eve of the season that his men were not realistically in premiership contention this year, an assertion about as controversial as suggesting the sky was likely to be blue at some point in 2021.
For well over an hour of football the Hawks stuck with the Tigers, or at least stuck to within three or four goals of them.
Having been beset by more than a touch of the fumbles early – even Luke Breust and Tom Mitchell were culprits in that regard – Hawthorn settled into the tempo of the game and looked well-matched in general play.
Mitchell, as ever, found a mountain of the ball but perhaps more important was the contribution of the emerging rebounding defender Changkuoth Jiath, whose attacking verve outweighs the kinks in his still developing game. Daniel Howe, a player who hasn’t quite kicked on yet, played one of the best games of his career. With the Hawks in need of a reliable wingman to complement Tom Phillips, he could be part of the answer. Second-gamer Tyler Brockman persisted too, finishing with a couple of goals.
But Richmond were ultimately much better. The Tigers were slicker with the ball, applied superior pressure – especially early – and had the most dangerous key forwards on the ground, as Riewoldt and Tom Lynch combined for seven goals, the latter causing headaches for Kyle Hartigan.
In an intriguing duel, Clarkson sent Shaun Burgoyne in his 391st game, to Dustin Martin. It was an old-fashioned hard tag, and let’s just say Burgoyne isn’t Ryan Crowley reincarnate. Martin wasn’t as damaging as 10 days earlier against Carlton but he finished with 28 disposals and a gorgeous, long-range, running goal.