Hawks crush Cats in AFL demolition job

Hawthorn have made an emphatic statement to open their AFL premiership defence, crushing Geelong in a ferocious clash at the MCG.

After a sluggish first quarter, Hawthorn broke away to win 17.21 (123) to 8.13 (61) in front of 73,584 fans.

The Hawks posted 14 goals to four after the first break to record their biggest win over the Cats in 25 years.

The latest chapter in this great modern rivalry had plenty of bumps but only the Hawks rode them well.

As the match see-sawed early in the second term, the rivals showed their dislike for each other with a series of crunching bumps and tackles.

The most savage was a late hit from Steve Johnson, who was reported for swinging an elbow into Sam Mitchell’s back.

Johnson was far from the only aggressor, with Luke Hodge’s early hit on Cam Guthrie restricting the young Cat.

Taylor Duryea also accidentally concussed Jimmy Bartel in the centre circle in the match’s final seconds.

But when the match was there to be won, the back-to-back premiers produced a performance that will increase talk of an historic three-peat.

Jordan Lewis was the dominant midfielder, overcoming an errant start to collect 35 touches.

Bradley Hill gave the Hawks plenty of run, while Sam Mitchell and Will Langford provided Hawthorn’s muscle over the contested footy.

Shaun Burgoyne made a habit of spoiling and tackling in the nick of time, wrecking any Geelong momentum.

And Hodge imposed himself on the match during the key period in typical style.

For Geelong, Johnson’s early act of appearing with the ball in hand at every stoppage vanished as the match wore on.

The much-vaunted twin Cat attack of Tom Hawkins and Mitch Clark was largely nullified by key Hawk defenders Brian Lake and James Frawley.

Clark kicked two first-term goals but the Hawks defence, operating with Josh Gibson spending plenty of time loose, were shielded by their dominant midfield.

The Hawks forwards feasted on the spoils of their midfielders, with Luke Breust (five), Paul Puopolo and Jarryd Roughead (three each) among eight goal-kickers.

Puopolo should also earn a mark of the year nomination for a third-quarter effort, wedging Jed Bews’ head between his legs as he soared to take a high pack mark.

A series of poor fourth-quarter shots for goal couldn’t ruin the Hawks’ day as they ran out comfortable winners.

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