Much-improved Hawthorn has continued its recent dominance of Collingwood and all but ensured it will avoid the wooden spoon this season with a 19-point upset victory over the Magpies at the MCG on Sunday afternoon.
The impressive 15.7 (97) to 12.6 (78) triumph moves Hawthorn in front of Collingwood and up to 15th on the ladder as it continues its end of season resurgence under outgoing mentor and four-time premiership winning coach Alastair Clarkson.
It was an eight-goal-to-three opening half that helped set the Hawks on their way, with much of the same after half-time as they made it 13 wins from their last 15 matches against Collingwood.
The Pies did send a minor scare through the Hawthorn camp when they closed to within 19 points with seven minutes remaining in the contest, but it was too little too late as the Hawks held on for a much-deserved victory.
The winners got a massive performance from ball magnet Tom Mitchell (44 disposals and eight clearances) and strong games from their experienced midfielder brigade of Chad Wingard (30 touches) and Jaeger O'Meara (27), but it was the efforts of their lesser lights that stood out most.
Blake Hardwick (28 disposals) led an unheralded defence with aplomb, while the likes of Lachlan Bramble (25 touches), Conor Nash (20) and Dylan Moore (20) continued their excellent recent form with another strong showing.
Despite an 11-7 advantage in the centre clearances due to the dominance of Taylor Adams (30 disposals and six clearances) and Jordan De Goey (28 and eight), the Magpies were unable to get the game on their terms apart from a brief flurry midway through the final term.
Goal sneaks Jamie Elliott and Jack Ginnivan were lively throughout up forward to combine for five goals, but they had too many passengers on the day as the Hawks won for the sixth time this season.
Clarko conjures another masterclass
No one expected Alastair Clarkson to depart the Hawks quietly in his last few weeks at the helm and the master coach once again displayed his prowess with yet another superb coaching display. Clarkson had his players eliminate the Magpies' ability to use the ball through the corridor as the Hawks played with poise and confidence when on the attack. It was all a big learning curve for Robert Harvey - the interim coach at Collingwood - as Clarkson once again choregraphed an unexpected Hawthorn victory against the odds. What Clarkson does in the future is anyone’s guess, but we should all sit back and witness greatness over the next fortnight as one of the best of all time finishes up for the brown and gold.
Top class kids can lead Pies' resurgence
While this was a disappointing day for the Magpies, there were enough positive signs in the performances of their younger brigade to indicate a quick turnaround and jump back up the ladder may not be far away. Finlay Macrae won 20 disposals and booted his first goal as a Magpie as he continues to impress, while fellow top 20 draft pick from last year, Oliver Henry, also hit the scoreboard and did some nice things from his 11 touches. Throw in the three-goal haul for Jack Ginnivan and there was enough for Collingwood fans to look forward to in 2022.
Silky finish sees streak continue
Shaun Burgoyne has done it all over his 405-game career and the 38-year-old can add another feather to his cap by claiming the amazing stat that he has kicked goals in 20 consecutive seasons in the AFL. Burgoyne hadn't hit the scoreboard prior to Sunday's clash, but the evergreen veteran showed his class with a cool finish in the opening quarter that set the Hawks on their way.
HAWTHORN 4.2 8.3 13.5 15.7 (97)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 3.3 8.5 12.6 (78)
Hawthorn: Koschitke 3, Moore 2, Howe 2, Lewis, Burgoyne, McEvoy, Nash, O'Meara, Scrimshaw, Worpel, Mitchell
Collingwood: Ginnivan 3, Mihocek 2, Elliott 2, Henry, Macrae, Sidebottom, Cameron, Grundy
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Hardwick, Ceglar, Wingard, Nash, Scrimshaw
Collingwood: De Goey, Adams, Crisp, Grundy, Howe, Macrae
Hawthorn: Worpel (foot)
Hawthorn: Brockman (replaced Worpel)
Collingwood: Bianco (unused)