With Hawthorne vs North melbourne being the last match of the round, here is the round 6 ladder for 2024

Following a disappointing loss to Gold Coast in round five, Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell took a decisive old-school approach in training, emphasizing physicality to ignite a stronger performance from his team. His strategy paid off handsomely as the Hawks dominated North Melbourne with a 45-point win on Sunday at Marvel Stadium, marking their first victory in 2024.

3GWS Giants206501638492129.671L
5Port Adelaide166402589486121.191L
8Western Bulldogs126303567461122.991W
11Gold Coast12630348151293.951L
12Brisbane Lions86204458436105.051L
13St Kilda8620443949089.592L
14West Coast8620443557675.522W
18North Melbourne0600641372457.046L

The Hawks showcased a vastly improved game, led by standout performances from Jai Newcombe, who racked up 32 disposals and nine clearances, Conor Nash with similar disposal numbers and ten clearances, and Connor Macdonald, who contributed significantly with 24 disposals. Mitchell praised his players for their effort and response, noting, “The players had a real desperation about them, and that’s what the best teams have. The challenge is, can we produce it every week?”

On the other side, North Melbourne’s coach Alastair Clarkson faced the reality of his team’s ongoing struggles. Despite the Kangaroos’ continuous efforts to rebuild and invest in young talent, the loss added to their dismal record of 26 losses in 27 games since Clarkson took charge. Reflecting on the game and the season’s hardships, Clarkson commented, “We’ve got a fair bit of work to do. We know what the narrative is going to be, but we knew that 18 months ago when we took on the job.”

Clarkson remains committed to the development plan focused on youth and culture change within the team. He anticipates upcoming matches against teams like Adelaide, St Kilda, Gold Coast, and Essendon as more level playing fields where the Kangaroos can potentially turn their fortunes around.

Despite the optimism for a softer schedule ahead, Clarkson acknowledged the superiority of the Hawks in their latest encounter, admitting, “Whether they had it, we had it, or the ball was in dispute, I thought they were the stronger side in all three of those facets. If you can’t win those, you’re not winning games of footy.”

Amidst the challenges, Clarkson hinted at potential strategic adjustments, particularly involving young star Harry Sheezel. Initially positioned at half-back, Clarkson is considering accelerating Sheezel’s transition to more central roles on the field to maximize his impact. This move reflects a broader strategy to give more game time and exposure to other young talents like Tom Powell, Will Phillips, and Colby McKercher.

The game underscored Hawthorn’s potential to rebound from early setbacks and posed significant questions about North Melbourne’s ability to compete at a high level despite their rebuilding efforts. For Mitchell and the Hawks, the victory serves as a pivotal momentum builder as they look to replicate the fierce competitive spirit shown in this match in their forthcoming fixtures. As for Clarkson and the Kangaroos, the season remains a challenging journey of growth and adjustment, with hopes pinned on the development of their young squad.