Hawks' Hodge farewells Tassie a winner

Ethan James
Hawthorn outclassed North Melbourne in the retiring Luke Hodge's final match in Tasmania

Retiring Hawthorn veteran Luke Hodge bid farewell to Tasmania in style in a 27-point AFL win over North Melbourne in Launceston on Sunday.

Returning from suspension, the former skipper played his final game in the Apple Isle as the Hawks recorded an 18.8 (116) to 14.5 (89) victory.

Hodge, who has played more AFL games in Tasmania than any player, finished with 29 disposals to lead the way in his team's young backline.

"He's played some great footy down here," Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said.

"We really missed him last week and we're obviously going to miss him next year."

Although the Hawks are out of finals contention, Clarkson said every minute his rookie defenders could spend alongside Hodge would be crucial to their development.

"We've got a very young defence with some of our more experienced defenders out with injury," he said.

"He was able to steady those young fellas down and help us with our rebound."

Luke Bruest booted a game-high four goals, captain Jarryd Roughead kicked three and a host of other Hawks scored doubles.

Hawthorn held the lead all afternoon with the margin blowing out to 51 points midway through the third quarter.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing.

The Kangaroos kicked five straight in the third term and reduced the margin to 19 points at the final change.

"You're almost thinking some of our young guys might turn it up a little bit, but they went the other way and they got back on the front foot," North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said.

Devonport junior Ben Brown booted two for in the third quarter and three overall for the Roos, keeping him in the Coleman Medal hunt.

"He looked like he was going to take the game by the scruff," Scott added.

"We'd like to give a bit more support."

In front of a 14,509-strong crowd, Roughead steadied the ship for Hawthorn with the opening goal of the fourth quarter.

From there they weren't threatened.

The Kangaroos went into battle without captain Jack Ziebell, who was a late withdrawal due to a persistent left foot problem.

Scott said Ziebell was booked in for off-season surgery but the 26-year-old would do everything in his power to take the field in the club's two remaining games against St Kilda and Brisbane.

"We've made it very clear we want to fight this season out," Scott said.

"He's our captain and a pretty important player."