On the back of a dismal start to the season, the Hawthorn Hawks finally look as though they are starting to get things right. Having lost their opening four games, the 13-time premiers have now won three of their last four outings, giving hope to their fans that this year might yet end much more positively than it started.
Facing a Brisbane Lions team widely expected to finish bottom of the AFL ladder, Hawthorn might not have blown away their opponents, but the 38-point win was more than enough to continue the team’s solid return to form. The early signs might not have been encouraging for their fans but Hawthorn might well have finally clicked.
While the victory was important, perhaps the biggest take away from the win at Launceston was the Hawks managing to hold on in the second half – something they have failed to do on a number of occasions this season. Hawthorn’s struggles after the half-time interval, in particular the third quarter, have been clear throughout this campaign, with the Hawks only winning one third quarter this season – in a Cyril Rioli-inspired victory over West Coast. Despite not dominating Brisbane in the manner they might have done last year, the way in which they managed to finish the match will be a huge boost to Hawthorn’s early-season morale.
Having rebounded from a comprehensive 75-point loss to St Kilda in Round 6 with a narrow three-point win against Melbourne, putting together their first back-to-back victory will have been crucial to the belief around the Hawks squad. If they do manage to reach the finals, something they are priced at 11/2 with the latest odds on bet365 to achieve, the Hawks would be the first team to ever finish in the top eight after going 0-4. Losses to Essendon, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Geelong might have threatened to kill Hawthorn’s season before it really started, but Jarryd Roughead et al may yet end this year by making history.
In what has been a quite incredible opening phase of the new AFL season, we’ve seen that any team in the league is capable of beating any other. Hawthorn’s shock start to the campaign might have been surprising at the time but the longer the year goes on the more we’re seeing just how hard it’s going to be to predict how this season is going to turn out. Aside from the Brisbane Lions, whose defeat to the Hawks was their seventh straight loss, no team in the league will feel their top-eight hopes are yet dead.
As Hawthorn have shown over the past few weeks, a couple of wins can put you right back in contention, and the likes of Collingwood and Carlton shouldn’t be written off just yet. For the Hawks, who won the premiership as recently as 2015, losing both their final games last season, putting a run of wins together will now prove the opening four rounds were a blip – albeit a four-week long blip – rather than a sign of things to come throughout the rest of the year.