Jeff Kennett dodges storm over Hawks racism claims as he misses Carlton game

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Hawthorn survive early Carlton blitz to launch huge comeback but go down by just one point in thriller – as under-fire Jeff Kennett dodges racism claims with Covid keeping him away from MCG

  • Carlton’s blistering seven-goal first quarter saw them open up huge lead
  • Hawthorn fought back and led for the first time nine minutes into last term
  • Jack Silvagni’s late goal from a tight angle sealed the Blues’ one-point win
  • Under-fire Hawks president was not in attendance after getting Covid-19  

Carlton have resisted Hawthorn’s huge fightback in a thrilling one-point win that extended their unbeaten start to the AFL season under new coach Michael Voss.

However, Hawks president Jeff Kennett – who is facing demands for his resignation after bombshell claims that he insulted Cyril Rioli’s wife in an incident that resulted in the club legend’s retirement and estrangement from the team – wasn’t in attendance as he self-isolates with Covid-19. 

On Saturday Rioli revealed Kennett left his wife Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli ‘distraught’ after a game in Tasmania in 2018.

Rioli added that it was the ‘final straw’ in his relationship with the club, which he claimed had ‘gaslighted’ him and had a poor relationship with Indigenous players.

The Hawks for Change group subsequently demanded Kennett step down from his role immediately. 

A blistering seven-goal opening term saw the Blues establish a 40-point margin before the Hawks dragged themselves off the canvas, hitting the front when Jack Gunston kicked his first goal at the nine-minute mark of the final quarter.

But Jack Silvagni’s late goal from a tight angle and Jacob Weitering’s courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball with one minute left saved Carlton’s blushes.

Triumph and despair: Blues fans go wild at the sound of the final siren while Hawks players stand shattered after falling just short of a come-from-behind victory

Triumph and despair: Blues fans go wild at the sound of the final siren while Hawks players stand shattered after falling just short of a come-from-behind victory

Jack Silvagni celebrates a goal during the thrilling contest. His major late in the final term sealed the deal for the Blues, who are undefeated after three rounds

Jack Silvagni celebrates a goal during the thrilling contest. His major late in the final term sealed the deal for the Blues, who are undefeated after three rounds

The 11.8 (74) to 11.7 (73) triumph kept their perfect record under Voss alive while Sam Mitchell tasted defeat for the first time as Hawks coach.

George Hewett, Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh and Matthew Kennedy helped the Blues gain midfield ascendancy but didn’t have it all their own way as Tom Mitchell, James Worpel and Josh Ward battled away for the Hawks.

Charlie Curnow and Silvagni kicked three goals each for the Blues, while Gunston, Breust and Dylan Moore booted two apiece for Hawthorn.

Centre bounce dominance and disposal efficiency were key to the Blues’ hot start.

Harry McKay kicked two early goals and Silvagni produced the highlight in a series of strong marks from Carlton forwards with a soaring grab over two opponents in the goal square.

It was their highest-scoring opening term since 2014, leading to a 34-point buffer at the first change.

Jack Gunston roars after kicking a goal. He put Hawthorn in front for the first time nine minutes into the final quarter as they charged back from a shocking opening term

Jack Gunston roars after kicking a goal. He put Hawthorn in front for the first time nine minutes into the final quarter as they charged back from a shocking opening term

Worpel, Mitchell and Ward helped turn the tide in the midfield and a pair of Luke Breust goals got the ball rolling for the Hawks.

Crucial turnovers led to Hawthorn goals and Zac Fisher’s decision not to have a shot at one end was quickly followed by Chad Wingard slotting one at the other, dragging the Hawks to within three kicks at the final change.

Hawthorn booted the first three majors of the last quarter and pinched the lead for the first time since the opening minutes when Gunston outmarked Weitering and strolled into an open goal.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett (pictured with Josh Ward after round one) dodged claims he left Cyril Rioli's wife distraught in 2018, leading to the club legend's retirement at just 28

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett (pictured with Josh Ward after round one) dodged claims he left Cyril Rioli’s wife distraught in 2018, leading to the club legend’s retirement at just 28 

Mitch Lewis (right) flies high to win the contest against Lewis Young of Carlton. Blues fans will be reminding everyone they can that 90 per cent of teams that have started 3-0 in recent years have gone on to make the finals

Mitch Lewis (right) flies high to win the contest against Lewis Young of Carlton. Blues fans will be reminding everyone they can that 90 per cent of teams that have started 3-0 in recent years have gone on to make the finals

Scores were tied at the 19-minute mark when the video review showed Denver Grainger-Barras got a hand to a Corey Durdin shot that floated between the big sticks.

But Silvagni put the Blues back in front when he bent through a shot from a tight angle as the last quarter ticked into time-on.

Gunston’s second goal gave the Hawks a sniff until Weitering claimed the match-saving mark at centre-half back.

Jack Scrimshaw’s 50th game didn’t go to plan as a shoulder injury forced Hawthorn to substitute him out of the match in the first quarter.

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