In an AFL season of strange happenings, Hawthorn’s stunning four-point win over North Melbourne has set a new bizarreness benchmark.
The listless Kangaroos didn’t score in Sunday evening’s third quarter at Marvel Stadium and didn’t look like it as they trailed by a game-high 31 points in the final term.
But North, somehow, came storming home with the last four goals of the match to fall agonisingly short – 8.10 (58) to 8.6 (54).
A lively three goal-performance by Chad Wingard looked set to ease the Hawks to a comfortable win before the the Roos sprang to life.
Debutant Tristan Xerri started the ball rolling with his first career goal 12 minutes into the last quarter, Ben Brown kicked his only goal of the night two minutes later, before Cam Zurhaar and Tarryn Thomas followed suit.
The margin was five points when Curtis Taylor sprayed his shot and Jy Simpkin’s left-foot snap in traffic went the wrong side of the post for North fans with 19 seconds to go.
It was the last score of the night, allowing Hawthorn to scrape to a win which had looked well in their keeping.
Wingard’s goal treble was the game high, while James Worpel, Liam Shiels and Tom Mitchell were important on the ball for Hawthorn.
Ben McEvoy was outstanding in defence, effectively blanketing Brown until late.
With Ben Cunnington a late withdrawal with a back injury, Shaun Higgins, Jasper Pittard and Simpkin were all important.
The Hawks led by two points at the first break and should’ve been further than 21 points up midway through the second quarter, such was their dominance through the middle.
Taylor’s monster mark against Hawks
Wingard recovered from an earlier bad miss to slot two goals, but Higgins was key as the Roos hit back late to trail by nine points at halftime.
Hawks tall Mitchell Lewis booted the first goal of the third quarter and Shiels snapped the next with a minute to go.
In between those goals, as had so often happened since footy’s restart, a grim stalemate of slow ball movement was the norm, with both teams struggling to generate meaningful forward forays.
The margin blew out to 31 points as Wingard booted his third, before the game underwent its wild fluctuation.
North will look to bounce back against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium, while Hawthorn will travel to Sydney to take on GWS on Sunday evening at Giants Stadium.