Two of the oldest and most experienced lists in the AFL hit the Etihad turf Saturday evening under an open roof and a balmy 23 degrees. The first half proved to be a brutal and hard fought out contest before the Hawks blew the game out early in the third quarter and ran away with a 45 point win
What we learnt
Luke Hodge: The spiritual leader only played the first half but he amassed a massive 17 disposals in just 43 minutes. On the back of his last year where he averaged 111 in both DT and SC he still needs to be seriously considered as a unique Mid in DT purely on his ceiling capability.
Sam Mitchell: Like Hodge he started the game in the centre square and absolutely dined out with 45 possessions, 17 contested. Given he’s 33 it will be interesting to see how Clarko uses him for the full 23 rounds but anyone who amasses 45+ gets a mention when i’m reviewing. Btw a hand to the face of Ben Jacobs was his only indiscretion.
Josh Gibson: The former Roo was at his best doing what he does best, standing off his opponent and reading the ball very well. He had 31 disposals, 9 marks and 5 tackles.
Daniel Howe: Played his third NAB match and is well in the mix for Round 1 action. A game high 10 marks and 15 disposals mainly in the defence half helps but we’d all love to see more midfield rotations. Birchall will still need to slot back but the Hawks this year have lost two experienced defenders in Lake and Suckling so with a reshuffle he’s all but there.
Billy Hartung: Was on for 20 minutes and got smashed continuously by Roo’s players, he was rewarded with 3 frees from his 8 disposals, wouldn’t look too much into his game tonight as he will freshen up and be ready to go in Round 1.
Blake Hardwick: Came on after the heat was out of the game and did what he needed to do with 6 disposals, not best 22 but keep a sneaky eye on him for a possible game or two later in the year.
The Hawks had a really good hit out tonight, half the game was intense and no injuries to report. Lewis was rested after experiencing tightness in his calf on Friday morning which scans have since come back as being clear. Could this be a Four-Peat on the way ?
What we learnt
Daniel Wells: Possibly the story of the match really. After a huge game last week against the Pies, he backed up with a beauty, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has stamped his name into many teams with his polished performance in a losing team tonight. 24 disposals, 5 tackles and 10 clearances, including one late in the first quarter where he waltzed though and hit Ben Brown laces out. A fit Wells is a delight to watch and is priced very nice as well.
Jack Ziebell: Did his best to not knock himself or a team mate out tonight as he attacked the ball in a ferocious manner. Just feel he needs to lift to a new level sooner rather than later as 18 disposals seems a little light on for a guy with his ability.
Todd Goldstein: I felt the Hawks ruckmen kept him very honest tonight in DT, he was kept to 13 disposals but only the 1 mark. Interestingly, he amassed 46 points more in SC than DT and AF. With hit outs to advantage Goldy needs to be highly considered as a R1 in SC.
Jed Anderson: Only 10 disposals, 5 contested in 75 minutes wasn’t flash from a DT perspective but he had to work hard and often alone, will be better for the run and the kid can play
The Kangaroos have a bit of work to do this year, missing tonight was only Higgins Tarrant and Turner, too much reliance is being left to too few, and the likes of Atley and McDonald need to use the ball much better out of defence, when your team gets close to 30 unforced turnovers your not going to win many games.