Hawks rally and return to AFL top eight

Roger Vaughan

Winston Churchill once famously said if you're going through hell, keep going.

It's an outlook that paid off handsomely for Hawthorn on Sunday as they mauled Carlton by 72 points and returned to the top eight.

The Hawks were coming off an upset loss to Brisbane in Launceston last weekend when they lost star defender James Sicily to a wrist fracture.

Sicily may return this season, but only if the Hawks make the finals.

Then midfielder Jaeger O'Meara, another of their frontline players, was a late withdrawal on Sunday with a hip injury.

The Hawks looked vulnerable - until the game started.

They kicked the opening five goals and kept Carlton to one goal in the first half.

After the Blues outscored them in the third quarter, Hawthorn stepped up a gear in the last term.

The game ended as it started, with Hawthorn kicking the last four goals.

Significantly, that took them above Geelong on the ladder on percentage and means they are back in the eight with five rounds left.

"It's so tight, so it is important," coach Alastair Clarkson said of their percentage boost.

Clarkson was pleased with first-year midfielder James Worpel, who came in for his fourth senior game and was high among their best.

"You think 'geez, we're going to miss him (O'Meara) this week', but fortunately we were able to get through this game with a strong win," he said.

"We find another young fella in Worpel, who looks like he can be a player for us."

Clarkson said they are likely to regain Shaun Burgoyne for next Sunday's away game against Fremantle after the star veteran missed four games with a hamstring injury.

But defender Daniel Howe is certain to be suspended for his high hit on Patrick Cripps in the opening minute.