Hawks stun stumbling Bulldogs in huge upset

Roger Vaughan |

Hawthorn claimed their second win of the season with a seven-point defeat of the troubled Bulldogs.
Hawthorn claimed their second win of the season with a seven-point defeat of the troubled Bulldogs.

Coach Luke Beveridge knows the scrutiny on the Western Bulldogs will ratchet up again after Hawthorn held on for a major upset AFL win.

Hawks captain James Sicily led superbly after suffering a dislocated shoulder early in the game and an ankle injury in the third term, kicking what turned out to be the winning goal in Sunday’s 14.14 (98) to 14.7 (91) win on Sunday at Marvel Stadium.

Bulldog Jamarra Ugle-Hagan had a free kick late in the game with chance to level the scores.

But his shot hit the behind post for out on the full and it proved the Bulldogs’ last chance, with the Hawks clearing out of defence  then scoring a behind on the siren.

The Hawks’ second win of the season comes a week after top side Sydney mauled them by 76 points.

It leaves the Bulldogs on the brink at 3-5 and comes after a difficult few days for Beveridge.

Calshear Dear.
Calsher Dear kicked a goal on debut as the Hawks extended the Bulldogs’ woes. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

Essendon ruckman Sam Draper said in a podcast last week several Bulldogs players would leave at season’s end if Beveridge stayed as coach.

Beveridge labelled Draper’s comment “bizarre” and Bombers coach Brad Scott called it disrespectful.

After Sunday’s stunning loss, Beveridge is well aware the media heat is coming.

“We took care of a lot of things that we planned for, but we didn’t plan for 24 back-half turnovers and giving up 8.4 from them – and that’s the game,” he said.

“We know that unless you’re winning games of footy, you’re always vulnerable to media scrutiny, so we just expect it.

“As I’ve said before, I have a thick skin and can deal with it, but I won’t let it affect how I care for and manage the playing group.

“Any external scrutiny, we just have to deal with.”

Concerns also surrounds Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore, who had to be helped from the field in the last quarter after going to ground after making a tackle on Conor Nash.

Beveridge said post-game he was unaware of what had happened.

Liberatore had blood on his face and it appeared he was kicked accidentally in the head.

It comes only a few weeks after Liberatore also collapsed late in their loss to Essendon.

“I actually saw him stumble in the middle of the ground and that’s concerning,” Beveridge said.

The Bulldogs bounced Hawthorn with the first three goals of the game in the opening five minutes.

But the Hawks steadied and with debutant Calshear Dear kicking his first goal, they only trailled by five points at the first change.

Dear is the son of Hawthorn premiership ruckman Paul Dear, who died of cancer two years ago.

His mother Cherie flew in from a European holiday early this morning to watch him play.

Sicily left the field after being crunched in a first-quarter marking contest but returned at halftime, and the key defender went forward after also hurting his ankle.

James Sicily.
Sicily went off early but returned to help shore up Hawthorn’s win. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

The Hawks hit the front early in the second term and stayed there until midway through the fourth, when three Bulldogs goals put them back in front.

But majors to Jack Ginnivan and Sicily put the pressure back on the Bulldogs.

While Bailey Williams kicked his second to reduce the margin to six points in the final frenetic minutes, that was the last goal of the game.

Captain Marcus Bontempelli was mighty in a losing cause with 26 possessions, seven clearances and two goals.

“The character the boys showed was fantastic,” Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said.

“Their belief and commitment in what we had done, through the week, through the month, through the year, through the years – you’re always looking for evidence you’re on the right track.”

AAP