READ MORE - SATURDAY SCOREBOARD - July 27, 2019
IT started with an early burst of three quick goals for Eaglehawk and ended with an avalanche of nine in the last quarter as the Hawks destroyed Sandhurst by 73 points at the QEO on Saturday.
Yet at three quarter-time it was a game still up for grabs, with the Hawks ahead by 12 points and little separating the two sides in the categories of scoring shots (Eaglehawk +2); inside 50s (Eaglehawk +1); and centre clearances (Eaglehawk +1).
But an entertaining contest that had been well and truly alive at the final change was quickly dead and buried by the Hawks in the last term.
The Hawks took just eight minutes to slam on their first four goals of the last quarter through Riley Saunders, Riley McIvor, Gedd Hommelhoff and Brodie Filo - a trademark ripper from outside 50 - to blow the margin out to 36 points.
And there would be no let-up from the ruthless Hawks as they ran the Dragons ragged, adding a further five goals on the way to a decisive 18.18 (126) to 7.11 (53) victory.
In what was a scintillating 31 minutes to close out the game, by the time the siren sounded to put the weary Dragons out of their misery the Hawks had scored 17 times from 18 last-quarter inside 50s for a return of 9.8.
READ MORE - Sandhurst v Eaglehawk, round 14 | PHOTOS
All the Dragons could muster from their four last-term forward forays was a behind to Jake McLean.
One of the traits of the Hawks in their premiership season of last year was their capacity to put the foot down and blow the opposition away in the last quarter.
And that has again been a trademark in recent weeks, with the Hawks now having produced final quarters of 62-1, 38-1, 47-7, 29-12 and 27-8 in their past five games.
"When you get to three quarter-time and the game is tight like it was today, it gives you that bit of confidence that we have been finishing off well," Eaglehawk coach Travis Matheson said.
The Hawks were down two rotations by half-time, with Lachlan Atherton injuring a shoulder and Ben McPhee off the ground concussed.
While the in-form Hawks are building nicely for another tilt at September and a crack at back-to-back flags having now won seven in a row, the Dragons are processing their heaviest loss since 2015 in a result that came with more than just the lopsided scoreline.
In a bitter blow for the Dragons it now looks to be season over for young power forward Will Holt, who dislocated his shoulder late in the first quarter.
Holt landed heavily after crashing a marking contest on the wing shortly after kicking the Dragons' first goal of the game after outmarking three Eaglehawk players.
"Unfortunately, I think that will be Will done for the year now," Dragons coach Ash Connick said.
"It won't be a full reconstruction, but just a tightening up of the muscles, so it looks like it will be round one next year for him."
Already missing Andrew Collins (groin) as a late withdrawal, paving the way for Jasper Stewart to come back into the side, and Adam Parry (thumb) from last week's winning team against Maryborough, the Dragons looked like they could also be adding captain Blair Holmes to the list when he limped off late in the third quarter.
However, Holmes returned to the field in the last term as the Hawks unleashed their carnage.
"At three quarter-time I felt we had executed what we wanted to brilliantly well. We applied great pressure, we had stopped their uncontested marks, but we were out on our feet in that last quarter and when that happens we fell away from those things we had been doing well," Connick said.
"What do we take out of it... we think our best is still pretty good, but if you can't sustain it for 120 minutes against good sides you're not going to win too many games."
Early the game looked a case of how far Eaglehawk.
The Hawks played a superb brand of quick, polished football and relished the extra space of the QEO, with their slick ball use rewarded with kicking the opening three goals of the game in the first nine minutes to McPhee, McIvor and Saunders.
However, after being on the back foot early the Dragons worked their way back into the contest and from halfway through the first term to three quarter-time it was an arm-wrestle.
The Dragons twice got within one point during the second quarter, but both times the Hawks answered and by half-time were back out to a 13-point advantage after a Cam McGlashan goal with the final kick of the term.
Saunders (four), one of which was a beauty over his shoulder in the last term, McIvor (three), Shaun Knott (two), Joel Mullen (career-high two) and Sean Williams (two) were all multiple goalkickers for the Hawks.
With 10 in total it was the Hawks' fourth game in a row with double-figure goalkickers as they continue to spread the load superbly.
Trent Bacon, Clayton Holmes, who spent the bulk of the game in the ruck, X-factor Filo and Mullen on a wing led the Hawks' better players; Sandhurst's best featured defender Jake Wilkinson, who was matched up on Knott, lion-hearted on-baller Nick Stagg, consistent half-back Jake Pallpratt and ruckman Chris Down.
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