Hawthorn players react after their loss to Sydney in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN coach Sam Mitchell says his side was "taught a lesson" by Sydney in Sunday's 76-point thrashing at the MCG, but added he couldn't question the effort of his players like he had after the heavy loss to Gold Coast two weeks ago.

Despite winning or breaking even across many key statistics across the match, the Hawks leaked 18 goals to the Swans, including seven unanswered either side of the first break.

HAWKS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

"It was a strange game," Mitchell said.

"I remember looking at the stats halfway through the third quarter, we were winning the inside 50s, we were well in front in contested possessions, winning the front half turnovers, and we were 70 points down."

Despite the final victory margin making it Hawthorn's biggest defeat of the season to date, Mitchell was encouraged by the effort of his players.


"The margin is worse than the Gold Coast game, but I looked at today's game, if you watched it without a scoreboard, you would have said the brown and gold boys are having a crack. They're really putting a lot of pressure on the opposition," Mitchell said.

Sydney's potency inside 50 was a continued concern for Mitchell throughout the day, causing some shifts in personnel as the game wore on. Blake Hardwick, who started well up forward, was moved into defence and substitute Max Ramsden was injected into the game as a second key forward option, but nothing worked for the home side.

Losing tall forward Mitch Lewis to knee soreness before the bounce for what would have been his first game since Easter Monday also didn't help.


"It's never a great phone call when the physio rings you, it was probably around 10 o'clock or so this morning, saying 'I don't think Mitch is going to get up for today'," Mitchell said.

"I thought collectively our front half didn't function as well as we would like."

Lewis' availability for next Sunday's clash with the Western Bulldogs remains unclear, while Mitchell also made note of young Hawk Sam Butler's broken leg in the VFL earlier in the day.

"He broke his leg in pretty horrific circumstances, so all of our thoughts go out to him ... he's going to have some surgery tomorrow and he'll be out for the season," Mitchell said.


Without Lewis, Mabior Chol was tasked with being the main aerial target inside 50 for much of the day, and while he had some strong moments, there's one he'll surely want to forget.

Late in the opening quarter as Hardwick was taking a set shot to help Hawthorn wrestle momentum back in its favour, Chol felled Swan Tom McCartin, turning the ball over and resulting in a quick Sydney goal.

"(It was) disappointing, the one that he gave away, to be honest," Mitchell said.

For winning coach John Longmire, attention quickly shifted to the game ahead against a red-hot Greater Western Sydney on Saturday.


"The longer the game went on, the more we were using uncontested marks, and we're conscious we go into a six-day break this week against the Giants, and they've had another couple of days' rest as well," Longmire said.

Pointing to former GWS head coach and now Sydney's Executive General Manager of Football Leon Cameron in the back of the room, Longmire laughed.

"It's a big clash ... we have played finals with our mate Leon sitting there in the room," he said.

"We appreciate the role both clubs have in the development of the game in New South Wales, and I think it's good for Sydney people to have a big game.

"But just as importantly, we're going to go out and do a job."

Longmire will face a selection headache this week, with former co-captain Luke Parker starring in the VFL on his return from a broken arm, and putting his hand up for selection in an already stacked side. Veteran defender Dane Rampe is also a chance to return from a hamstring injury.

"We'll sit down this week and see what we need to do," Longmire said.

"Obviously the Giants are in red-hot form and it's going to be a massive game.

"The Giants will probably get a couple of really gun players back as well. So we'll have to sit down and work it out.

"It'll be on, I reckon."