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Gunston shines, Hawks thump Roos in AFL

An emotional Jack Gunston has paid tribute to his late father after kicking five goals to inspire Hawthorn to a 46-point victory over AFL battlers North Melbourne.

The Hawks came flying out of the blocks at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval on Saturday afternoon, slotting eight unanswered majors in the first quarter to register their third win on the trot.

Having not played since the death of his father Ray, a former AFL executive, in early July, three-time premiership winner Gunston fittingly slotted the opener in the 19.7 (121) to 11.9 (75) result.

The 30-year-old touched his arm band and pointed to the heavens as he was congratulated by teammates.

“It was good to be (on the field). That’s the beauty of being at a footy club, you’ve got great support,” Gunston told Fox Footy.

“My family has had a lot of support over the last two weeks. We’ve been incredibly grateful for everyone reaching out.

“Some people go through this and don’t have the support that we’ve been fortunate to have.”

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said Gunston’s mother Mandy was in the sheds after the match.

“She was emotional which made him and a few of the rest of us quite emotional. It’s been a really difficult couple of weeks,” Mitchell said.

“I was really proud of Jack. It was a game where I was just happy for him to run out and be amongst it … but he was our most potent forward and just looked dangerous everywhere he went.”

Gunston’s best goal came in the fourth quarter from a set shot from the boundary line, while midfielder Jai Newcombe was also strong with two goals, 30 disposals and nine clearances.

North Melbourne, who parted ways with coach David Noble less than a fortnight ago, failed to back up last round’s upset over Richmond under caretaker coach Leigh Adams.

They were dealt a late blow when key forward Nick Larkey was ruled out with a heel problem.

Larkey, who was under an injury cloud coming into the game, is expected to return next round.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had to back up a win,” Adams said.

“We thought we had opportunities in that first quarter to actually get through their defence … once we turned that footy over, we didn’t defend well enough.”

Hawthorn racked up a 49-3 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Kangaroos clawed back some momentum by winning the second term with two goals to the Hawks’ single major.

However the Hawks got rolling again in the third, with Gunston contributing two goals.

North Melbourne fans had something to cheer about when 20-year-old Phoenix Spicer kicked his maiden goal in the third quarter.

Skipper Jack Ziebell booted three in front of a crowd of 9713, while Larkey’s replacement Aaron Hall picked up an equal team-high 30 disposals.

Tempers flared in the fourth quarter when several Hawthorn players objected to North Melbourne’s Jy Simpkin flinging one of their teammates to the ground.

The Kangaroos remain anchored to the foot of the ladder with two wins for the season and next meet Essendon, while Hawthorn play top-eight hopefuls St Kilda.

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