Gold Coast Suns pushed Hawthorn from 18.13 (121) to 7.12 (54) in Darwin, improving its record to 5-6 and keeping in touch with the top eight approaching the middle of the season.
Hawthorn led by one point early in the game, but from then on it was a comprehensive outing by the Suns, who ran rampant down a side that looked like a shadow of the one that upset the Brisbane Lions last week.
It gives the Suns a golden opportunity to straighten out their win-loss ledger against North Melbourne next week, while Hawthorn will host Collingwood in the MCG.
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There were no late changes for either side. Charlie Constable (Gold Coast Suns) and Finn Maginness (Hawthorn) were the medical subs.
Sam Frost appeared to be the Hawks’ number one ruck option on the ground, battling numerous hits with in-form ruckman Jarro
Both teams exchanged shots on goal early on, but it was Gold Coast that struck first with a goal from a center overthrow and good work by Izak Rankine provided Ben Ainsworth with a run-in goal.
The Suns played with great intensity early on, with a goal for Malcolm Rosas, followed a few minutes later by a smooth set shot from Izak Rankine.
Hawthorn eventually hit the scoreboard through Luke Bresut, who rounded off cleanly with a punch on one point.
It turned out to be a brief moment of half-time for the Hawks as the Suns scored another goal through Mabior Chol to end the quarter and maintain an 18-point lead.
Jarman Impey had his left Achilles assessed towards the end of the quarter and returned to the ground but looked tired.
It was just one of many setbacks for the Hawks, as the Suns scored the first two goals of the second term and went up 41-9.
Hawthorn got some rest on the scoreboard via Dylan Moore, who just kicked the second goal of the game for the Hawks.
But again, the Suns responded with interest, with goals for Chol, Joel Jeffrey and Levi Casboult chasing, with Jeffrey’s especially a stunning effort from the borderline.
Sam Butler provided a much-needed response for the Hawks and then Jacob Koschitzke kicked Hawthorn’s fourth goal of the evening as the side seemed somewhat stable after an avalanche from Suns.
A goal for Brandon Ellis late in the period brought the margin to 41 points at the main break.
Lachie Weller kicked a goal to open the third term and put the margin at 47 points, with the Hawks on the brink of collapse.
Some individual brilliance from Chad Wingard kept the Hawks somewhat alive in the game, but again it proved to be the exception rather than the rule as the Suns responded with back-to-back goals.
Gold Coast took a 61-point lead in the last term.
With the result beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Hawks did well to keep the margin from expanding any further, but it was bland praise when the Suns finally took a thumping victory.
3) RUCK MAYHEM HAS HOME FOR HAWKS
Playing a match without a real ruckman is always a difficult task, but playing without a real ruckman against the most in-form ruckman in the league right now is a recipe for disaster.
That was the case for the Hawks on Saturday night, as injury caused them to use Sam Frost as one of several makeshift ruck options against Jarrod Witts, who was in the best shape of his career so far this year.
Witts dominated and as a result so did the Suns, who looked a league above from the opening.
“They were great in all facets of the game,” said Nick Riewoldt at halftime.
“The hitout numbers are also a reflection of the clearance numbers.”
Those numbers read incredibly well for the Suns: Hitouts were a whopping 40-8 and clearances 35-23.
Disputed possessions were also heavily in favor of the Suns, who finished 148-115 in the stat and absolutely ripped Hawthorn apart, while Jonathan Brown said at halftime on Fox Footy the Hawks “still in Launceston”.
2) SUNS’ TAG TEAM DELIVERS AGAIN
When Ben King fell with an ACL injury at the start of the year, you could be forgiven for squandering the side’s hopes for the final, he was so important to the side.
And if you told anyone that Levi Casboult and Mabior Chol would be one of the most dangerous and effective forward combinations in the league, you might have been told to get your head checked.
Now, 11 laps in, it’s less of an imaginative prospect and more of a hard-boiled fact.
This time, Chol kicked the most goals, but again Casboult’s great work in the air brought the ball to the ground and let the Suns’ small forwards shine.
It’s a stunning result from Casboult and Chol, considering how much weight has been placed on their shoulders with King’s injury.
“Chol and Levi Casboult were an impromptu forward formation with Ben King out but they did a brilliant job and thanks to some really good movement in the back and midfield,” Nathan Buckley said of Fox Footy.
“The Hawthorn defense just can’t slow things down. The Suns dominated in the 1950s, more than double what Hawthorn had.
“As a big man, if you get that kind of movement down the middle, you enjoy it.
Jonathan Brown agreed, adding: “The little guys were fantastic. Chol and Casboult were fantastic pick-ups, but Ainsworth, Rosas and Rankine were fantastic.”
1) SUNS’ LITTLE FORWARD GLOSS
It’s going to be quite a forward line for the Suns and that includes both the short and the tall.
Malcolm Rosas played for family and friends and was brilliant with three goals and a hand in one and five goals.
The Izak Rankine we’ve seen over the past few weeks was a completely different player, exerting a tremendous amount of pressure and playing a part in numerous scores.
Rankine finished with two assists and seven goals and continues his purple spot.
It’s a great result for the Suns, who put in a great month despite losing last week.
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