No AFL alarm bells at Hawthorn: Birchall

Alarm bells aren’t ringing at Waverley Park, with Grant Birchall noting Hawthorn remain ladder leaders and will learn plenty from Saturday’s reality check.

The Hawks suffered a shock 29-point loss to Melbourne in round 20, meaning their buffer atop the AFL ladder is just a single victory.

Another defeat against North Melbourne or West Coast in the next fortnight could cost the flag favourites a spot in the top four.

That would be a major blow to the club’s hopes of a fourth straight premiership.

“We’ve had a really good year. We’ve won more games than any other team in the competition,” Birchall told AAP.

“We’re sitting on top of the ladder, so I think we’re still in a pretty good position.

“We’ll just regroup and go again.”

Birchall is one of a handful of Hawthorn players chasing their fifth premiership medal.

The rebounding defender conceded the Hawks had plenty to work on after succumbing to the 11th-placed Demons.

“It’s a bit of a reality check … we’ve got to sharpen up, otherwise we’ll be drawn back to the pack,” Birchall said.

“We’ll have a look at the tape and address a few things that we need to get better at.

“They were just too good.

“We kicked pretty inaccurately … they really hurt us on turnovers.

“Their intensity was better. We missed tackles. They just dominated us … we didn’t rock up to play.”

Ben Stratton (pec) and late withdrawal James Frawley (shoulder) were added to Hawthorn’s injury list on Saturday, stretching their defence.

Birchall denied complacency was a factor in the patchy performance.

“Not at all, we understand it’s a really tight and tough competition,” he said.

“No matter who you’re playing, if you’re just that five per cent off then you’re going to get caught out.

“We’d won nine in a row. Maybe this loss will spark us up a little bit, hopefully we can get on a bit of a roll.”

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