Hawthorn has caused a major upset with a 38-point win over the Sydney Swans at the SCG to snap a five-match losing streak.
- The win was just the Hawks’ third of the season
- Tom Mitchell starred for the visitors with a goal, 34 disposals and seven tackles
- The loss cost the Swans the chance to move into the top four
Lance Franklin’s 11th outing against the Hawks, whose third victory of 2021 has reduced the risk of collecting their first wooden spoon since 1965, was expected to be a lop-sided affair.
But it was former Swans ace Tom Mitchell who enjoyed a dominant night on Friday night, setting the tone for the visitors’ 14.5 (89) to 7.9 (51) victory.
The 2018 Brownlow medallist posted 34 disposals (16 contested), seven tackles and a goal.
He ensured the Hawks won the contested-possession count 165-139, while Sam Frost restricted Franklin to a solitary goal.
Isaac Heeny and Tom Papley combined for just one goal as Hawthorn kicked away in the final quarter to secure a comfortable margin.
Mid-season draftee Jai Newcombe finished with 14 tackles, the most by any debutant in VFL/AFL history, while late inclusion Jonathon Ceglar, Changkuoth Jiath, Jaeger O’Meara and Ben McEvoy were also among Hawthorn’s best.
A crowd of 25,904 repeatedly voiced their frustration with a free-kick count that finished 26-10 in Hawthorn’s favour, while even Sydney coach John Longmire struggled to hide his disbelief with one contentious decision in the final quarter.
The Swans’ loss was soured by Will Hayward’s concussion in the second term, while Jake Lloyd and Harry Cunningham played on after painful second-quarter setbacks.
The Hawks made their substitution late in the first half because of Harry Morrison’s hamstring injury.
They seized control of the contest by booting five goals to two in the second term, creating doubt and turnovers through immense pressure to become the only side outside GWS to topple Sydney at the SCG this season.
The shell-shocked Swans, who would have clambered above fifth-placed Port Adelaide and fourth-placed Brisbane on the ladder had they won, trailed by 24 points at half-time.
Longmire moved from the boundary line to the coaches’ box after the major break, when he also asked James Rowbottom to tag Mitchell while searching for a circuit breaker.
Mitchell’s output was reduced in the second half as the Swans lifted but the home side failed to rein in the Hawks, who remain 17th on the ladder despite the win.
The Swans are in sixth place ahead of the completion of round 13.