1. Generally this season the Eagles have been efficient when going forward, often kicking winning scores despite conceding the advantage in forward 50 entries. This time they won the count of penetrating the arc 63 to 35 and 59% of the game was played in their forward half. While the return from 16 forward 50 entries in first quarter was just 0.5, part of the reason was that the zone was clogged up by Hawthorn players. It made hitting targets challenging and one-on-one marking contests were a rarity. That changed in the second term, the Eagles were more damaging and blew the game open with a seven-goal term.
2. Remaining focused on the team’s attacking football, Jack Darling has made another great start to the season and was important against the Hawks. He presented with intent and marked strongly all day, pulling down nine grabs, while cohort Josh Kennedy was also a threat in the air, plucking seven marks. They took five of those marks inside 50 while Bailey Williams, in his first senior game of the year, also took three marks. With Brendon Ah Chee, who kicked a career-high four goals, Jack Petruccelle and Jamaine Jones, they consistently put the young Hawks defence under pressure.
3. There has been a strong focus on the players who have not been available because of a high injury count, especially over the last month. The midfield has been hit hard, with quality performers Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo sidelined. But there is an old adage in football that the guys in the stands can’t win games, so the responsibility rests with those selected. Adam Simpson and his match committee would be delighted with the way the midfield has responded. Andrew Gaff, Jack Redden, Tim Kelly and Dom, Sheed have taken it upon their shoulders to lead the charge and they have been simply outstanding, their dominance in the engine room ensuring a flood of opportunities for the forwards.
4. When the Eagles went goal-less from 16 inside 50 entries in the opening term, Adam Simpson was tempted to swing Oscar Allen forward. He resisted because the trade-off would have been an under-sized defence being under pressure and by game’s end it was a wise call. Allen plays with great maturity and has adapted well to starting in the back line, combining with developing youngster Harry Edwards to cover the opposition’s key forwards. In conjunction with Brad Sheppard, who led from the front, they contained the Hawks and held them to eight goals.
5. The impact of ‘small’ forwards is not always measured by their scoreboard presence. The Eagles got four goals out of Jack Petruccelle (two), Jamaine Jones and Zac Langdon, but in concert with Jamie Cripps, their pressure around the contest was pivotal. They led the way for pressure acts, with Jones heading the count with 24, followed by Cripps (22), Langdon (19) and Petruccelle (16). Jack Darling was also prominent in this space after another solid effort in every respect, also putting on 19 pressure acts.