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Hawks the latest AFL favourites to slide
Sam Lienert
15:32 AEST Mon May 28 2012

It's the AFL tag that refuses to stick, with Hawthorn the latest in a succession of clubs to crash out of premiership favouritism.

The season is playing out like a group of kids on a slippery dip; clubs take their turn at the top in punters' minds before sliding.

Hawthorn's 62-point thrashing at the hands of Richmond at the MCG on Saturday - the club's biggest defeat in more than two years - was as significant a loss by a flag favourite as any.

But the Hawks are just one of five clubs to have spent time as favourites in a uniquely turbulent season.

Those include Collingwood - who were favourites in the pre-season and have now returned to that status with some bookmakers.

Geelong, Carlton and now West Coast - who like the Magpies are joint or outright favourites with various agencies - have also taken their turn.

Significant losses by the Magpies, to Hawthorn in round one; the Hawks, to Geelong in round two; the Cats, to North Melbourne in round three and the Blues, to Essendon in round four, all shifted the markets.

Hawthorn, though, had spent most time as the punters' choice before Saturday's loss to Richmond prompted a rethink.

A depleted Collingwood's gutsy win over in-form Adelaide and West Coast's derby demolition of Fremantle helped those two clubs take over.

Sportingbet Australia's Bill Richmond said he was not aware of a previous AFL season in which there had been as many as five favourites by round 10.

There might still be one or two more this season.

Second-placed Essendon and Adelaide, third, were both huge outsiders early in the year but are now both inside the $10 mark and among the top five fancies, along with the Magpies, Hawks and Eagles.

The Blues and Cats have slumped outside that group, although there is still a clear break between them and the next tier of clubs, such as St Kilda, Sydney and Richmond.

It is a stark contrast to recent seasons.

Last year, Collingwood were flag favourites from the time they won the 2010 premiership until Geelong took over three days before winning the 2011 decider.