Hawks sneak past Eagles in AFL thriller

Hawthorn have won the battle, but there is the feeling their war with West Coast has only just begun.

The Hawks kept their top-two chances alive with a pulsating 14-point win over the Eagles on Saturday night at a wet and windy Domain Stadium.

West Coast led by 18 points during the third quarter, and edged out to a three-point lead midway through the final term when Josh Kennedy nailed his fourth goal of the match from close range.

But the Hawks, winners of the past two premierships, came up trumps when it mattered most.

Luke Breust gave Hawthorn back the lead at the 19-minute mark by shaking off a tackler and evading two other Eagles defenders to score an opportunistic goal.

And when Shaun Burgoyne and Jarryd Roughead also nailed important goals, the Hawks were home.

The 13.10 (88) to 11.8 (74) win lifted Hawthorn to within two points of the second-placed Eagles.

And with West Coast scheduled to face ladder-leading Fremantle next week, second spot could soon be all Hawthorn’s.

Although the Eagles didn’t manage to get the win this time, they can hold their heads up high.

And if everything goes to script, they’ll get the chance to avenge Saturday’s loss at some point during the finals – maybe even twice.

But for the moment, West Coast will be busy counting the toll of a bruising encounter.

Star defender Jeremy McGovern appears set for another stint on the sidelines after re-injuring his left hamstring.

And star goalsneak Mark LeCras was placed on report for his head-high bump on James Frawley.

Frawley was bent over attempting to scoop up the ball when LeCras came through and clipped him on the top of the head.

The Hawks’ defender was left groggy from the hit and required a concussion test before returning for the start of the second half.

West Coast suffered a huge blow on Friday night when ruckman Nic Naitanui withdrew following the death of his mother Atetha.

Star Hawks defender Brian Lake was forced out before the match because of general soreness, and his absence was keenly felt as Jack Darling nailed two early goals.

West Coast made the most of a strong, swirly breeze to open up an 18-point buffer by quarter-time.

It would have been even more if not for two kicks hitting posts, but Hawks forward Jarryd Roughead had his own nightmare moment in the second quarter when he missed a 15m set shot from almost directly in front.

West Coast threatened to break the game open during the third quarter, but a 20m missed set shot from Patrick McGinnity came back to haunt the home side.

Had McGinnity nailed the goal, the margin would have been 23 points.

Instead, Hawthorn swung the ball down the other end to score through Jonathon Ceglar, with the margin just four points at the final change.

The final term was a see-sawing affair.

But with Scott Lycett tiring in the ruck and McGovern done for the match, the Eagles didn’t have the firepower to match Hawthorn when it mattered most.

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