HAWTHORN defender James Sicily was penalised for being a retaliator in Saturday night's clash against Carlton but will learn his lesson, according to coach Alastair Clarkson.
Sicily gave away seven free kicks in the Hawks' seven-point loss at Etihad Stadium, losing his composure in front of umpires and retaliating against opponent Jed Lamb, who was unrelenting in his defensive forward role on the young Hawk.
Clarkson said he chose to let the match-up play out as a way to teach Sicily, who was not allowed to play his natural game and was well beaten on the night, conceding two goals and taking just two marks.
"I think it was important that we stick it out and just try to learn," Clarkson said.
"It'll be a really great learning game for him. That's AFL footy and I'd much rather it happen now early in his career when it's a dead-rubber game.
"He was getting smacked a fair bit and he's the retaliator. The umpires pay the retaliator rather than apply the discipline to the Carlton player in the first instance who is doing the hitting.
"We're on the receiving end this time, but plenty of other times we've been the team to dish that sort of stuff out."
Clarkson said Saturday night's loss to the disciplined and defensive Carlton was a lesson for his young players that "AFL footy doesn't always go your way, just work your way through it".
The Blues burst out to a 21-point lead at quarter-time and were able to contain the Hawks through a spare man in defence, never letting them kick away in a second half arm-wrestle.
"It was played on Carlton's terms all night," Clarkson said.
"That's the way they like to play. When Carlton win it's always 12 goals to 10 and that's what the result was. We're disappointed with the way we played.
"Carlton are a side that always run a seventh off the back themselves. We've always been a side that's played six forward of the ball.
"We just got sick of reacting to opposition sides just playing a seventh so we've started to do that a little bit more ourselves in the last six or eight weeks."
Jaeger O'Meara got through his first senior game since round six unscathed, finishing with 17 possessions and five clearances after a quiet start.
Clarkson said the 23-year-old recruit had been a "little bit rusty" but worked into the game and picked up the pace as the match went on.
"At different stages he was a bit rushed when he didn't need to be and running to spots where he thought the ball was going to go and it didn't get there," the coach said.
"But he got going a bit in the last part of the game, so it's just good for our supporters and his teammates to have him running around.
"He's had a tough year and he's worked really hard in pretty trying circumstances with all the innuendo about whether he was going to play or not.
"He and we knew that it was an injury that he was going to be able to recover well from, so now that he has hopefully he'll be able to get next week's game under his belt and then have a rest over the summer."