Gunston’s AFL season might be over

Jack Gunston’s AFL season may be over after the Hawthorn forward suffered an ankle injury in their disastrous AFL qualifying final loss to West Coast.

Friday night’s 32-point loss to the Eagles at Domain Stadium means the Hawks will now have to beat history if they are to win a third-straight premiership.

The last team to lose a final and go on to win the flag was West Coast nine years ago.

And they will probably have to do it without Gunston, who needed help from trainers to leave the field after he was hurt in the last quarter.

“I think it’s an ankle, but we’ll get that scanned … and see what the severity is,” coach Alastair Clarkson said.

“It didn’t look great.

“He looked pretty proppy.”

Hawthorn will now play the winner of the Western Bulldogs-Adelaide elimination final next Friday night at the MCG.

They must improve dramatically on Friday night to stay in the premiership race – especially with their ball use.

West Coast’s relentless team defence denied Hawthorn clean possessions.

The Hawks, normally so well-organised and precise, were picked apart.

After upset losses late in the season to Richmond and Port Adelaide as well, it is clear that teams are working out how to stop the AFL pacesetters.

“Just the little half-chances we had, especially through the course of the first half – fumbled balls, missed kicks, missed handballs – it was just so unlike us,” Clarkson said.

“We’ll back our boys in and go again.

“We just have to find a way.”

Clarkson praised West Coast, but clearly felt his players were often their own worst enemies despite working hard enough.

“We had open paddocks to kick the ball into and we hit grass with the ball instead of kicking it to a player who could mark the ball and take control of the contest,” he said.

Nevertheless, he remains confident that they can rebound.

“We’re reasonably philosophical – this group has worked really, really hard for this footy club for a long period of time,” he said.

“This is hopefully going to be an aberration.

“Our endeavour was great, I couldn’t be displeased with the way that we hit in and gave ourselves an opportunity.

“We had the ball in our hands nearly as much as what West Coast did, but we couldn’t convert those into enough inside 50 opportunities.

“That’s where they were far superior.”

Clarkson also was unhappy with some umpiring decisions, but stressed they were not major incidents.

“Especially the one (a deliberate out of bounds) that went about 70m, that was pretty harsh,” he said.

“But you just roll with the punches on them.

“(Liam) Shiels gets done for 50m because it doesn’t land on the chest of the West Coast player.

“They do it five minutes later, we don’t get the 50 … easy call to make.”

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