Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell celebrates his side's win over North Melbourne in R6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SAM MITCHELL put the heat on his players during the week and said they "held up their end of the bargain" in a 45-point thumping of North Melbourne on Sunday.

Mitchell, seeking to spark a response from his players, adopted an old-school physical approach at training following a horror loss to Gold Coast in round five.

KANGAROOS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

The move worked brilliantly as Jai Newcombe (32 disposals, nine clearances), Conor Nash (32, 10) and Connor Macdonald (24, one) led a strong performance around the ball at Marvel Stadium to get the Hawks on the board in 2024.

"The players were great, I enjoyed watching them, and even some of the goals we gave up were the right type," Mitchell said.

"We genuinely tried to put the opposition under pressure and I thought the players, to a man, held up their end of the bargain in that area.


"Their response was fantastic. Collectively the performance was of such a higher standard (than last week).

"The players had a real desperation about them and that's what the best teams have. The challenge is, can we produce it every week?"

Meanwhile, North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson concedes his side is still a long way off the pace after forecasting the match would be an indicator of where his rebuilding outfit sits in its development.

He was left in no doubt and North has now lost 26 of 27 games since success in Clarkson's first two outings at the helm early last year.


"We've got a fair bit of work to do," Clarkson said.

"We know what the narrative is going to be but we knew that 18 months ago.

"When we took on the job, we needed to change the culture and environment of our footy club and invest in youth.

"That's the only way that we can go and that's what we've done. We don't back away from that."

After a tough first five rounds of the season against mostly high-quality opposition, Clarkson is looking forward to a run of matches against teams he feels are closer to North Melbourne in the pecking order.


The Kangaroos next face Adelaide in Hobart before encounters with St Kilda, Gold Coast and Essendon over the next month.

But Hawthorn's dominance on Sunday was a stark reminder of where the Kangaroos sit.

"Whether they had it, we had it or the ball was in dispute, I thought they were the stronger side in all three of those facets," Clarkson said.

"If you can't win those, you're not winning games of footy.

"So yeah, we've got some work to do but it's no surprise to us and I don't think it's any surprise to the football competition."

Clarkson hinted he might have to accelerate young star Harry Sheezel's move away from half-back as he looks to ignite his side.

Harry Sheezel during North Melbourne's game against Hawthorn in R6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"We want Sheezel in other spots on the ground but it's just the balance of the side," Clarkson said.

"Who do you take to half-back to replace him? And the other guys like Tom Powell and Will Phillips and Colby McKercher and these guys, we want to give them some exposure to the footy as well.

"But we'll probably explore that.

"We wanted him (Sheezel) to try to consolidate his position at half-back in the first half of the year and then see in the second half of the year if that was more midfield or mid-forward opportunities.

"We just might have to fast-track that a little bit now."