Jack Ginnivan celebrates a goal during round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

SAM MITCHELL'S punt on a heavy week of training has paid dividends as Hawthorn ended their winless start to the season with a 45-point belting of bottom side North Melbourne on Sunday.

After being thumped by Gold Coast in round five, third-year coach Mitchell adopted an old-school physical approach on the track in a bid to force a tough response out of his players.

KANGAROOS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

The ploy worked a treat as the rampant Hawks piled on nine consecutive goals in a game-busting blitz before half-time to lay the platform for a 17.11 (113) to 10.8 (68) win at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

The triumph was the Hawks' first of the year after their worst start to a season since their 0-7 opening to the 1970 VFL campaign.


It gave Mitchell a 2-0 head-to-head record against his former mentor Alastair Clarkson, who he replaced as Hawthorn coach in a messy handover at the end of 2021.

Jai Newcombe (32 disposals, nine clearances), Conor Nash (32, 10) and Connor Macdonald (24, one) were standouts for the Hawks in the midfield and small forward Dylan Moore equalled his career-best haul with four goals.

Jack Ginnivan, Mabior Chol, Karl Amon and Lloyd Meek (two each) were also among the 10 goal-kickers in Hawthorn's strong spread of contributors.


The result compounded North Melbourne's woes, leaving them as the competition's last remaining winless team after round six.

The Kangaroos have managed just one victory in their past 27 games after success in Clarkson's first two outings at the helm early last year.

Ruckman Tristan Xerri fought hard in a losing cause for North with 19 disposals, 45 hit-outs and 10 clearances, while key forward Nick Larkey kicked three goals in his 100th game.

Paul Curtis also kicked three and Luke Davies-Uniacke (23 touches, six clearances) battled on.


The Kangaroos started brightly and kicked the first two goals of the match but Hawthorn booted the next three to lead at the quarter break - by seven points - for the first time this season.

The Hawks took full control, piling on another six consecutive goals as the lead blew out to 45 points before half-time.


It was one-way traffic, with Mitchell's men dominating possession, territory and even the tackle count (23-10) in the second quarter.

The Kangaroos showed a bit of fight after the main break and tempers flared when Larkey crashed into Finn Maginness in a marking contest.

Cameron Zurhaar and James Sicily were also involved in a fiery exchange during the final term, but Hawthorn were always in control on the scoreboard.



Apprentice becomes the master… again
Sam Mitchell spent 11 years under Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn before controversially taking over from the master coach in 2022. Clarkson may have led the Hawks – and Mitchell – to four premierships, but on Sunday, Mitchell won the coaching battle. Marshalling the rock-bottom Roos is a far cry from guiding the all-conquering Hawks team of the early 2010s, but Mitchell will no doubt take some satisfaction out of besting his former mentor for the second time from two attempts.

Sam Mitchell addresses his Hawthorn players during round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Larkey shines again in game 100
Despite North Melbourne’s lack of fluid ball movement, Nick Larkey continues to be a shining light. The spearhead kicked three goals in his 100th game, continuing his streak of kicking at least one goal per game to 24 games in a row. He kicked a whopping 72 goals in 2023, and has already kicked 13 in six games so far in 2024. It’s been a grim 100 games for Larkey, only tasting victory in 20 of those matches, but his ability to kick goals and give North Melbourne a spark in the bleakest of games has been a highlight for Roos supporters. There’s not much to like about being a Roos fan at the moment, but Larkey is an exception.


Newcombe finds his form again
After Hawthorn’s mids copped a belting last week against Gold Coast, Jai Newcombe stood up. Down on form compared to his extraordinary years in 2022 and 2023, the 2021 mid-season draftee was back to his best with 32 disposals and nine clearances. If the Hawks are going to improve in 2024, they’ll need more performances like this from Newcombe.

Jai Newcombe gets a handball away under pressure during round 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH MELBOURNE        2.2       5.5        8.6       10.8 (68)
HAWTHORN                      3.3       11.6      14.8     17.11 (113)

North Melbourne: Curtis 3, Larkey 3, Ford, Simpkin, Drury, Tucker
Hawthorn: Moore 4, Ginnivan 2, Chol 2, Amon 2, Meek 2, Gunston, Weddle, Morrison, Macdonald, Maginness

North Melbourne: Sheezel, Xerri, Curtis, Davies-Uniacke
Hawthorn: Newcombe, Nash, Macdonald, Morrison, Impey 

North Melbourne: Ford (hip)
Hawthorn: Nil

North Melbourne: Charlie Lazzaro (replaced Eddie Ford in the third quarter)
Hawthorn: Henry Hustwaite (replaced Massimo D’Ambrosio in the third quarter)

Crowd: 30,648 at Marvel Stadium