Late Hawks burst burns AFL Tigers

Hawthorn have maintained their two-win cushion at the top of the AFL ladder in ugly fashion, defeating Richmond by 70 points at the MCG.

The reigning premiers eventually booted clear of the dogged Tigers for a 16.18 (114) to 5.14 (44) victory on Sunday.

The Hawks left their kicking boots at home but saluted Sam Mitchell, who was a super contributor in his 300th game in brown and gold, with an eighth-straight victory.

This was a match Sir Mix-a-Lot and other fans of the behind would have savoured.

There were rushed behinds, clanger kicks, punches through, ones that bounced the wrong way and shots that faded just so.

Champions missed and first-year players did, too.

Mitchell set the tone early by missing a simple set shot to kick the Hawks’ first goal.

After a lacklustre first half in which most goals came from opposition errors, two goals in a minute felt like a gift from the gods.

Majors from Jack Gunston and Cyril Rioli elevated the contest, giving the 51,892-strong crowd something to cheer and Hawthorn a match-winning lead.

They piled on the sorry Tigers with a nine-goal final quarter, with the Hawks improving from 7.17 to 16.18 with a late burst of accuracy.

Rioli was the only multiple goal-kicker not to blot his copybook, finishing with 3.0.

Richmond were ponderous in midfield and without a forward-line threat, finishing with their lowest score in seven years.

Back-line blunders from Nathan Drummond and Ben Griffiths kept Hawthorn on top when the game was on the line.

Those not focusing on the scoreline were kept entertained by a stats shootout between milestone man Mitchell and red-hot Tiger Dustin Martin.

The ball magnets were the busiest two players on the ground, with Martin’s 39 touches outdoing Mitchell with 38.

Brad Hill, who is considering a move away from the Hawks at season’s end, was excellent, while Josh Gibson barely lost a contest in the Hawthorn defence.

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