HAWTHORN cruised to a 28-point victory over Brisbane as the AFL announce mid-game that the season will be halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite AFL boss Gillon McLachlan revealing that competition had been suspended until June, the teams returned to the MCG field after halftime as the Hawks prevailed 14.6 (90) to 9.8 (62) in their round-one contest.
It is understood both clubs attempted to shield their players from news of the competition’s postponement before the third quarter began.
Despite the Lions taking a two-point lead into quartertime, the Hawks were in control for most of the match.
A three-goal blitz at the start of the second quarter allowed Hawthorn to break away and the Lions never recovered.
The Hawks’ accuracy around goal paid off, while their opponents cost themselves with poor kicking.
Brisbane threatened early in the last quarter with the game still in the balance, but Alastair Clarkson’s side finished strong with the final three goals to end a four-game losing run against the Lions.
Hawks star Shaun Burgoyne, who is in his 20th AFL season, shone brightly with three goals and created golden opportunities for teammates.
Champion midfielder Tom Mitchell was as prolific as ever, racking up 25 possessions in his first game for Hawthorn since 2018 after missing all of last season with a broken leg.
He combined brilliantly with fellow star on-baller Jaeger O’Meara as they gave forwards Luke Breust (three goals) and Burgoyne quality service inside 50.
The Lions were served well by Lachie Neale (26 possessions) and All-Australian defender Harris Andrews.
To cap off a tough day for last year’s semi-finalists, ruckman Stefan Martin (knee) and ace forward Charlie Cameron (foot) finished the match on the bench with injury concerns.
A bright spot for Brisbane was the debut of draftee Deven Robertson, a late inclusion for former Hawthorn defender Grant Birchall, who missed out with a tight hamstring.
© AAP 2020
HAWTHORN 3.1 6.2 10.2 14.6 (90)
BRISBANE LIONS 3.3 4.5 7.7 9.8 (62)
Goals: Hawthorn: C Wingard 3 L Breust 3 S Burgoyne 3 I Smith J Patton O Hanrahan T O’Brien T Scully. Brisbane Lions: E Hipwood 3 C Cameron 2 D McStay 2 C Rayner L Neale.
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Curtis Deboy, Brent Wallace.