HAWTHORN has surged to a 38-point upset win over Sydney at the SCG to snap the visitors' five-game losing streak in style.
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.
SWANS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats
But it was former Swans ace Tom Mitchell who enjoyed a dominant night on Friday, setting the tone for the 14.5 (89) to 7.9 (51) victory.
The 2018 Brownlow medallist - playing for the first time since it was reported that he would be open to a trade at season's end - had 34 possessions (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 Heeney 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.
Hawthorn made its substitution late in the first half because of Harry Morrison's hamstring injury.
The Hawks 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 if 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, the Swans lifted and would have reduced Hawthorn's lead to 13 points if Luke Parker's poster, midway through the third term, was on target.
But their premiership-quarter toil was not reflected on the scoreboard, with Robbie Fox's late turnover ensuring the margin at three-quarter time was identical to that at half-time.
Fox, called to play on after the umpire ruled a pass to him didn't travel 15 metres, coughed the ball up and Dylan Moore slotted the resultant pressure-relieving goal for the Hawks.
Recalled ruckman sets the tone in close
Hawthorn came into the match ranked 17th for contested possession differential but was too strong for Sydney in this area from the opening bounce, winning the contested ball 47-35 in the first term. The Hawks won that count in every quarter and finished the match ahead 165-139. Ruckman Jonathon Ceglar only earned a late recall to the side after Ned Reeves rolled an ankle the day before the game, but helped set the tone in close with 19 contested disposals, as well as 11 clearances and 35 hitouts, in a performance that will make him hard to leave out next week.
Newcombe serves up a tough tackling debut
Jai Newcombe's fairytale nine days since being selected at pick No.2 in the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft had a happy ending with the Hawks' upset win. The hard-nosed midfielder impressed on debut even though he didn't get as much of the ball as he has for Box Hill, finishing with 13 disposals (he averaged 23 in the VFL). But the 20-year-old was ferocious in the contests and had a remarkable 14 tackles, as well as being clean with his hands and looking comfortable with the speed of the game. He should be a handy addition to a Hawthorn midfield that has needed some fresh faces.
Will Wicks pay for bump on Day?
The Swans forward likes to play on the edge and is in the side partly for his intensity and tough tackling. Wicks looked to relish being on the receiving end of a late bump from Sam Frost that resulted in a 50m penalty and a set shot from the goalsquare. But minutes later it was the 21-year-old's turn to overstep the mark when he arrived late to a contest between Oli Florent and Will Day. As the Hawthorn defender brushed off his opponent and went to pick up the ball, Wicks bumped him high to give away a free kick and end up in the umpire's notebook. He faces a nervous wait for the MRO decision.
SYDNEY 3.2 5.3 6.4 7.9 (51)
HAWTHORN 4.2 9.3 10.4 14.5 (89)
Sydney: Amartey 2, Hayward, Franklin, Heeney, Florent, Wicks
Hawthorn: Koschitzke 2, Moore 2, Phillips 2, Breust 2, Ceglar, Morrison, Wingard, Mitchell, McEvoy, Shiels
Sydney: Mills, Kennedy, Amartey, Rampe, Parker
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Ceglar, O’Meara, Jiath, Frost, Scrimshaw, Newcombe
Sydney: Hayward (concussion)
Hawthorn: Morrison (hamstring), Reeves (ankle) replaced in selected side by Ceglar
Sydney: L.Taylor (replaced W.Hayward)
Hawthorn: J.Morris (replaced H.Morrison)
Crowd: 25,904 at the SCG
Tickets for the Big Freeze in Sydney match are on sale now. Get your tickets HERE. The famous blue Big Freeze beanies are still available from Coles, Coles Express, Bunnings or fightmnd.org.au, while donations can be made at fightmnd.org.au.