Idyllic conditions greeted the Hawks and the Bulldogs as the ball was bounced in the sides’ opening scratch match of the 2021 campaign.
See how the young Hawks outfit stood up against a strong opposition through the quarter by quarter match report below.
The Bulldogs rolled out a midfield stacked with talent and experience at the opening bounce, with the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley, Tom Liberatore, Josh Dunkley and Jack Macrae all suiting up.
That engine room helped generate some early dominance for the Dogs, with midfielder Lachie Hunter and ruckman Tim English getting themselves on the scoreboard early.
At the other end of the ground, the Hawks opted for a three-pronged tall forward line with Jacob Koschitzke, Tim O’Brien and Mitch Lewis, while one of Jon Ceglar and Ben McEvoy also spent time around goals as a resting ruck.
In his first outing in the brown and gold jumper, Tyler Brockman made an immediate impact early with two strong tackles.
Ollie Hanrahan arrested some of the Dogs’ early dominance as he got on the board with his first of the game.
Another pair fresh in their new colours, Tom Phillips worked his way into the game well with a strong balance between his work inside and outside of the contest, while Kyle Hartigan showed his defensive prowess early with a strong aerial presence.
Having burst out of the blocks, Luke Beveridge’s side took a comfortable 22-point lead into the first change.
WB 4.5 29
HAW 1.1 7
WB Q1 Goals: Dale, Bruce, Hunter, English
HAW Q1 Goals: Hanrahan
The Hawks looked determined to make amends for their slow start as play resumed in the second term.
With the wind now in their favour, the ball began moving more smoothly for the Hawks, who were able to transition from defence to offence with relative ease comparable to the opening quarter.
Hanrahan was first to benefit from this new-found flow, striking with the first goal of the quarter after a beautiful crumb off the pack and finish off his left boot – his second.
Just moments later, Hanrahan was on again, booting his third major in just over half an hour.
However, a ball-handling fumble here and a skill error there were punished by the Dogs as they found goals via Mitch Wallis and Laitham Vandermeer in quick succession.
Filled with confidence following a bag of six in the club’s intraclub a week prior, Tim O’Brien launched and clutched a big, strong mark at the top of the goal square and promptly put through his first.
Draftee Connor Downie began to come into his own as the momentum fell in the Hawks’ favour, with the promising youngster creating one of the highlights of the day after taking a courageous mark standing under a high ball.
Harry Morrison and Dylan Moore were looking dangerous as well, with the duo spending time through the midfield.
Experienced pair James Worpel and Jaeger O’Meara proved a steadying force against the talented Dogs on-ball brigade, helping to get the Hawks going at stoppage.
Luke Breust turned his opponent inside out for a classy snap finish that even had his teammates in the crowd in awe.
Brockman again caught the eye in the second quarter, this time with some offensive work – side-stepping and weaving through traffic.
Quickly becoming one of the more influential figures on the ground, Breust had two more opportunities around goal before the main break.
He slotted his second goal from a long-range set shot before narrowly missing a quintessential forward 50 stoppage crumbing goal that would have really announced the momentum in favour of the brown and gold.
Having noticeably grown in confidence over the summer, Changkuoth Jiath was also making a strong impression at the defensive end.
Along with his improved decision-making in the back half, a slapping smother from Jiath got the loudest cheer of the half from his teammates watching in the stands.
Mitch Lewis converted a majorafter a strong contested mark delivered via a long-range bullet from Damon Greaves.
Suddenly, the Hawks were just four points behind at half-time.
WB 7.7 49
HAW 7.3 45
WB Q2 Goals: Wallis, Vandermeer, Dale
HAW Q2 Goals: Hanrahan (2), Breust (2), O’Brien, Lewis
The Dogs made quick use of the breeze being back in their favour to kick off the second half, adding two quick goals.
But the Hawks were sure not to relent the sway of the game as easily as they did in the opening term, locking in at stoppages around the ground.
Luke Breust deftly slotted home his third of the day with a set-shot snap on his left foot.
The Dogs scored a quick reply via the boot of Rhylee West to extend their lead back out to 22 points.
But the Hawks weren’t giving up.
Tim O’Brien bobbed up again with his second soon after and then Daniel Howe, who spent the majority of the day on the wing, struck a brilliant set shot from a tight angle on the 50 arc which didn’t require the goal umpire to move a millimetre.
WB 11.9 75
HAW 10.5 65
WB Q3 Goals: Smith, Bruce, West
HAW Q3 Goals: Breust, O’Brien, Howe
Taking the breeze into the final term, it became a question of how well the Hawks could utilise that advantage as they looked to peg back a 10-point deficit.
The challenge ahead of the Hawks began to look more difficult though after Tim English kicking his second of the day and extending the Dogs lead to 15 points.
But the Hawks remained calm and composed, setting up their defence behind the ball such that the Dogs began to have a hard time penetrating it.
Leading the defence, Jarman Impey was proving a force on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball while Will Day continued a performance that looked as if it was coming from a seasoned veteran rather than a youngster in just his second year of AFL footy.
James Cousins then generated two shots at goal, missing the first before slotting the second attempt from the goal square – his first goal of the day.
A couple of consecutive misses from the Hawks potentially drew the ire of Sam Frost who decided to stroll up from centre half-back and slot a goal from not too far forward of the wing. A true canon.
Another strong contested mark and consequential goal at the top of the goal square from a Hawks key forward, this time Mitch Lewis, saw the Hawks claim the lead for the first time of the day, halfway through the final term.
From there, Tim O’Brien kicked his third goal and Luke Breust his fourth to claim a strong victory for the Hawks.
With an impressive practice match win under their belts, the Hawks now turn their attention to North Melbourne in a week’s time – the final opposition hit out before the season proper kicks off against the Bombers on Saturday 20 March.
WB Q4 Goals: English
HAW Q4 Goals: Cousins, Frost, O’Brien, Lewis, Breust
HAW 15.7 97
WB 12.10 82
WB Goals: Dale (2), Bruce (2), English (2), Hunter, Wallis, Vandermeer, Smith, West
HAW Goals: Breust (4), Hanrahan (3), O’Brien (3), Lewis (2), Howe, Cousins, Frost