Tom Stewart is tackled by Jack Ginnivan during the match between Hawthorn and Geelong at the MCG in round three, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

MAX BAILEY won a premiership for Hawthorn in 2013, but in his new role as the Hawks' general manager of football operations, he read the play quicker than anyone else on Easter Monday. 

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With heavy rain and lightning forecast, the former ruckman briefed Hawthorn's football department on what to expect in the unlikely event of a delay occurring. The Hawks were 36 points down at three-quarter time when the AFL paused the game for more than 40 minutes due to severe weather in the vicinity. 


Hawthorn couldn't find a way to navigate past Geelong on a day where the Cats celebrated Tom Hawkins' 350th game, but Sam Mitchell's side made inroads on a season that had started poorly with back-to-back losses to Essendon and Melbourne. 

"Believe it or not, Max Bailey, actually predicted it," Mitchell told reporters in his post-match press conference on Monday night. 

"(He said pre-game) if that happens, how do we want to handle it? So we knew it was possible; we knew the process; the AFL were quite strong with it. The game between Brisbane and Melbourne (had a delay), so we knew there was a process in place with the lightning. 

"Thirty minutes, new game, six goals down, try and change a couple of things, see if you can get the game on your terms. I thought the energy in the stadium was fantastic. I was rapt that there were still a lot of people there. The noise as we started to get a bit of momentum, it felt like anything could happen, but they were too good. 

"I thought we were really consistent throughout the night. They had two patches of the game where they were able to hit the scoreboard consistently. They scored from turnover from our half a bit too easily. We gave up the two runs of goals and that was the story of the game, but there were some positives to come out of it."


Mitchell said Hawthorn will contact the football operations department at the AFL this week if they believe Jack Ginnivan is being umpired differently after the high profile recruit wasn't paid several free kicks for head high contact.

"I know there has been a lot of talk about it," he said.

"Coaching, you don't go back and look at it, but if he is, there is a process to get in touch with the AFL. If we re-watch it and have a look and think he is having unfair treatment, then I will get in touch with the AFL this week and get them to have a look at it. I haven't seen any vision or looked at that at this point."


Key forward Mitch Lewis didn't return after the weather delay due to a hamstring injury and wouldn't have returned if the game wasn't delayed as long as it was, with Mitchell optimistic the 25-year-old won't be sidelined for too long, if it at all. 

"I had a chat to him at the long break. He said it could be a cramp, it could be a corkie, it could be (a strain). He was able to play for a while after it happened, so maybe there is some positivity," he said. 

"He was already a little bit sore, but he probably would have come off but he noticed our sub was already activated and out there, so he tried to keep going. It is likely a hamstring injury. But we will wait and get scans and see what it is."


After starting its premiership defence winless after three games in 2023, Geelong exits the first month of 2024 undefeated as one of four sides 3-0, along with Greater Western Sydney, Fremantle and Carlton. 

Cats coach Chris Scott said the AFL communicated with the clubs effectively during a chaotic period on Sunday and was happy with how Geelong handled the disruption to ensure Hawkins' milestone game was a day to remember for all the right reasons. 

"It was strange. Not just the lightning, but it was a bit of a strange game. I thought we played well in parts and I thought they played well in parts. It was a big occasion for Tom's 350th and I thought the guys approached it the right way," Scott said in his press conference. 

"We've started the year with three wins and are optimistic about what's possible as the year evolves. Even in the first three rounds our execution in some areas has been a little bit off, but besides some patches, I thought it was a performance that we can be proud of."

Tom Hawkins is chaired off by Jeremy Cameron and Mitch Duncan in game 350 after the match between Hawthorn and Geelong at the MCG in round three, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Scott said five-time All-Australian defender Tom Stewart didn't require a head injury assessment late in the third quarter after being kneed in the back of the head by Mabior Chol in a marking contest. 

"No, he didn't (undergo a HIA), he was just checked for a neck issue but was cleared really quickly. It was a heavy hit, he felt it, but he recovered well," he said. 


Geelong is expected to make some changes ahead of Saturday night's clash against the Western Bulldogs in Gather Round after managing veteran premiership pair Rhys Stanley and Zach Tuohy on Easter Monday.