Hawks beat Lions as AFL succumbs to virus

Oliver Caffrey
Hawthorn beat Brisbane at the MCG before the AFL announced a suspension of competition until June

Hawthorn cruised to a 28-point victory over Brisbane as the AFL announced mid-game that the season would 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.

Both clubs attempted to shield their players from news of the league's postponement until after the game.

Despite the Lions taking a two-point lead into quarter-time, the Hawks were in control for most of the match held behind closed doors.

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, but Alastair Clarkson's side finished strongly with the final three goals to end a four-game losing run against the Lions.

Hawks star Shaun Burgoyne, in his 20th AFL season, shone brightly with three goals and created golden opportunities for teammates.

Chad Wingard played one of his best games for Hawthorn after crossing from Port Adelaide during the 2018 trade period, finishing with 20 disposals and three goals.

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.

Clarkson said his team did their best to focus on the match despite the surreal circumstances they found themselves in.

"It didn't implicate my mood, one way or another in the coaches' box," he told reporters.

"There was still a game of footy. If we miss a tackle, I would get angry. If we laid a tackle or kicked a goal, I'd be happy."

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 has suffered probable damage to the PCL in his knee.

Ace forward Charlie Cameron (toe) also finished the match on the bench, but Lions coach Chris Fagan was unsure of the severity of the injury.

A bright spot for Brisbane was the debut of draftee Deven Robertson, a late inclusion for former Hawthorn defender Grant Birchall, who missed with a tight hamstring.

"I know I found my mind drifting at different times during the week to the 'what ifs' and the maybes, not really certain what would happen," Lions coach Chris Fagan told reporters.

"It's a very difficult situation we all find ourselves in ... we just have to get together as a society to overcome this."