Hawthorn have emerged from a bruising encounter against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium with an impressive 60-point victory.
But Saturday night’s 19.16 (130) to 10.10 (70) win might come at a cost for the Hawks, with incidents involving Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis likely to be assessed by the match review panel.
The game got off to a fiery start with the Hawks’ skipper catching counterpart Andrew Swallow in the jaw with a swinging left arm, then Jordan Lewis felled Todd Goldstein with an old-fashioned coat hanger just minutes later.
Swallow recovered from the initial hit but ended the night subbed out with a concussion after a third-quarter clash with Ben Stratton.
A week after Hawthorn got off to a terrible start against Port Adelaide, Alastair Clarkson’s men had the better of the opening term and led by 21 points at the first break, with Sam Mitchell, who finished with 33 possessions, important early.
The pace of the game lifted even further in the second quarter, but both teams struggled to hit the scoreboard.
The Kangaroos trailed by 23 points as the third term got underway and couldn’t go with the Hawks, who flew away to a 41-point lead.
Jack Ziebell was important as North fought back late, but it was still Hawthorn by 35 points at three-quarter time.
Brad Scott’s side desperately needed the first goal of the last, but Gunston added the third of his four majors to spark a seven-goal quarter that sealed the Hawks’ third win of the season.
Luke Breust also impressed with four goals with Isaac Smith (28 disposals and two goals) and Grant Birchall (24) influential throughout.
Clarkson would not be drawn on the incidents involving Hodge and Lewis, but made no apologies for his side’s hard-nosed approach.
“They’re always pretty spirited contests against the Kangas,” Clarkson said.
“We’ve got a healthy rivalry with them and they’re always great contests. The final margin was perhaps a little bit of a blowout – I didn’t think it was reflective of the spirit of the contest over the course of the night.
“At different stages it looked really threatening that North were going to get themselves back into the game, particularly patches in that third quarter, but we were really pleased with our resilience.”
Scott said that Swallow had been cleared to return after his concussion test, but that the club had decided to take a conservative approach with their onfield leader.
He was pleased with how his players stood up to the physical challenge from the Hawks, but was disappointed with his side’s work rate away from the stoppages where Goldstein was important with 40 hitouts.
“I thought in the clearances and the contested possession for most of the night was pretty good,” Scott said.
“But we got outworked and that was the really disappointing part for us because it’s a part of the game that we pride ourselves on and we’re usually pretty good at it.”