Free kick gives Hawthorn AFL thriller over Giants

Ethan James |

Hawthorn survived a late fightback to score a shock six-point win over the Giants in Launceston.
Hawthorn survived a late fightback to score a shock six-point win over the Giants in Launceston.

In-form Hawthorn are on the cusp of the AFL top eight after a contentious free kick in the dying stages gave the Hawks a thrilling six-point win over GWS.

The Hawks drew a downfield free with a minute to play on Saturday in Launceston after James Sicily was bumped late by Tom Green while kicking the ball inside 50.

Substitute Luke Bruest slotted the goal from near the posts, breaking a 79-79 deadlock for Hawthorn’s fifth win from their past six games.

The 12.13 (85) to 12.7 (79) result came after Hawthorn trailed by 19 points at halftime, and puts them one win outside the top eight.

Hawthorn's James Sicily.
A free kick to Hawthorn’s James Sicily proved decisive in the dying stages against the Giants. (Linda Higginson/AAP PHOTOS)

The top-four aspirations of the Giants have copped a blow – they have lost four of their past five games after a 5-0 start to the year.

GWS coach Adam Kingsley refused to blame the umpiring call for the loss.

“I didn’t see the free kick so I can’t really comment on whether it was a free kick or not,” he said.

“He’s desperate to try and stop a score. Things happen when you’re trying to stop a score. It is what it is, you move on.”

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell also played a dead bat when asked about the free kick.

“I’m not sure. I haven’t watched it again since. I was a bit worried Sicily has missed (his kick at goal),” he said. 

Hawthorn overcame the loss of ruckman Ned Reeves, who was taken off with a back problem about halfway through the contest.

Both clubs were without some off-field staff for the start of the match after heavy fog played havoc with flights. 

“The really pleasing thing was … everyone stepped in for different moments,” Mitchell said. 

“Wedds (Josh Weddle) had to go into the ruck, which he’s hardly ever done.

“The belief they had in each other, I thought that was a big step forward and it’ll give us a lot of confidence.” 

The lead changed hands several times throughout a dramatic fourth quarter after Hawthorn held a narrow three-point lead at the final break.

Xavier O’Halloran, who kicked a game-high four goals for the Giants, booted two in the last quarter before Jake Riccardi’s first got GWS in front with less than five minutes left.

Xavier O'Halloran kicked four goals for the Giants.
Xavier O’Halloran kicked four goals for the Giants, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Hawks. (Linda Higginson/AAP PHOTOS)

Mabior Chol was one of Hawthorn’s best and provided the highlight of a dogged opening quarter when he converted a high-flying pack mark into a goal.

GWS captain Toby Greene suffered a nasty head cut early from a stray elbow and briefly came from the field but played on.

The Giants held a 13-9 lead at the first break on the back of a late Jesse Hogan major off a turnover.

They opened up a 38-19 advantage at the main break courtesy of a run of three goals – two coming off the boot of 20-year-old Aaron Cadman.

The No.1 pick in the 2022 draft, Cadman capitalised on some strong defensive pressure from the Giants before nailing a set shot.

Hawthorn rallied with a six-goals-to-two third quarter, including two for the term to Jack Gunston.