Dylan Moore celebrates a goal during round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

HAWTHORN coach Sam Mitchell has lamented his side's "missed opportunity" against Essendon, but praised the efforts of Dylan Moore after the small forward battled glandular fever across the off-season.

The Hawks put up a fight but were ultimately outclassed by the Bombers in the 24-point loss at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.

Moore had been in doubt for round one, but put his hand up for selection and ended up kicking three goals.

"I'm really proud of him, he kicks three straight, and his work rate is enormous. We kept his game time down a little bit today, but I think when it came to this week, I just knew that he would make the right decision whether or not he could play," Mitchell said post-game.

"You know, medically they're not sure, you can't test for glandular fever really, and how recovered they are, so we really had to trust him, and I was really proud that he was able to put in such a strong performance."


Despite registering four more scoring shots than their opposition, Mitchell was optimistic that the Hawks' wayward kicking at goal won't become a trend of their season.

"We actually were able to get the ball inside 50, we just couldn't capitalise on our chances," he said.

"If I had the preseason again, I wouldn't change how much goalkicking we've done. We've done a huge amount. So, I don't think – maybe I'm tempting fate here – but I don't think that's going to be a pattern."

BOMBERS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

Where Mitchell was more concerned, however, was the ease with which Essendon won the ball in the middle. Hawthorn lost the clearance count 31-40, and crucially lost centre clearances 9-18, which immediately put the young side on the back foot.

"I think centre bounce hurt us today, I think it was 9-18 so that gives them first look at it for the majority of the time," Mitchell said.

"Centre bounces gave them the field position, and then I think stoppage scores were significantly in their favour."


Mitchell's Essendon counterpart, Brad Scott, is looking to next week's opponents as inspiration for the midfield mix the Bombers are trying to achieve.

On Saturday afternoon, Jake Stringer - who had regular spurts in the middle last season - played as a pure forward, while young players Archie Perkins, Sam Durham and Jye Caldwell flew the flag at the source for the Bombers.

"We're trying to build flexibility in our midfield, and our opponent next week in Sydney, I think (are) a pretty good example of that… We know Stringer can do that, we know Caldwell, Perkins can do it," Scott said.

"So, what we're trying to do is build flexibility so that at different stages of the game we can pull different levers."


Saturday's win was marred somewhat by a potential hamstring injury to hard-luck key back Zach Reid, who was subbed out of the game at half time.

"What we do know is that he came up with a tight hamstring… it's a tight hamstring, but is it a torn hamstring? No. There may be some very minor damage, but if there's damage it's minor," Scott said.

"I think 'Reidy's' injury history is pretty well documented, so in the end you have to take it out of their hands. We're just going to sub him and take a cautious approach and hopefully he's okay. But if he's not, he's building a really solid bank of resilience."