SO IT’S DOWN THERE CAZALY
ALASTAIR Clarkson might have hoodwinked us all again.
We could be forgiven for thinking his gun forwards would prefer to mark the ball when they roam inside- 50m.
But the secret to one of the most lethal scoring sides in football history might not be their aerial power.
Rather, the real phenomenon driving the club’s historic attempt at a premiership three- peat is what is happening on the forest floor in attack.
Forget the gorilla forwards, and get your head around “Al’s Anteaters”.
At a time when congestion and extra defensive players are making scoring harder than ever, Hawthorn ranks a clear No. 1 for retaining pos- session from their kicks inside- 50m.
But the laser- like Hawks only rank seventh for generating a mark from these kicks. They don’t always even go straight in the direction of their teammate.
According to Champion Data, when it comes to kicking to a target, the Hawks rank 13th.
Where the Hawks’ forwards eyes really light up is when the ball is kicked to green grass, bouncing along nicely out in front of them.
That is where Hawthorn, a clear No. 1 for groundball gets in its forward- 50m, strikes with devastating success.
Incredibly, the brown and gold forwards have won 13 more groundball contests than their opposition defenders for the season, making it the only team in the AFL to record a positive differential in this area. Outnumbered? No space? It doesn’t matter. More often than not, it’s a Hawthorn player scooping the ball up off the ground close to goal.
And for Richmond’s small defenders, the challenge facing them at the MCG tonight is enough to keep you awake at night.
According to Hawthorn champion Shane Crawford, the philosophy forward is about kicking it to “the most usable option”.
“They ( Hawks) either kick it to space in the forward line, or kick it to a one- on- one in a way that favours their teammate,” Crawford said.
And it’s not only the livewire gang in Paul Puopolo, Cyril Rioli and Luke Breust doing the damage. Jarryd Roughead, at 193cm, has won more groundball contests than any Hawk forwards.
ANOTHER ONE: Paul Puopolo of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the Round 13 win against Essendon.