Sam Mitchell celebrates Hawthorn's win over Brisbane in R11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN coach Sam Mitchell said it was a painful week in the classroom at Waverley Park after the last gasp loss in Adelaide, but the players and coaches learned valuable lessons that they implemented in Sunday's 25-point win over Brisbane.

The Hawks conceded the last six goals against Yartapuulti last week, coughing up a 41-point lead – including two goals in the final 30 seconds – to endure a soul-searching flight home to Melbourne and a week of introspection.

HAWKS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

Fast forward seven days, Hawthorn found themselves 35 points up in the second quarter and in control before the Lions reduced the margin to under a kick late in the third, enveloping Marvel Stadium with the dreaded sense of déjà vu.

"Normally with a learning you don't get to implement it straight away, but the players were amazing in their commitment to really learn the lessons," Mitchell said.


"It was pretty painful, to be honest; we had to watch that a lot and do the learning and it was not an easy thing to do.

"We knew there were things we could do better as players, as coaches. Today we felt like we won together, we handled the situation better.

"(We're) still a work in progress, still let them get well and truly on top and some of their kicking probably kept us in it at different periods. But I thought collectively we handled the emotion of the game in a pretty positive way for the majority of it."

After watching on almost helplessly from the coaches’ box last week, Mitchell spent the last quarter of Sunday's game coaching from the interchange bench at the suggestion of Hawthorn GM of football Rob McCartney.


"He thought if we could control the energy of the game and the attitude of the game that would be more important than any technical or tactical moves that we were going to make," Mitchell explained.

"I think when it got to three quarter-time and we knew we'd been in this position before, best case scenario was we continue to play the right way and give ourselves chances to score. The worst case scenario was (last week) again.

"Being able to control that narrative and making sure there was a positivity on the bench was something we didn't get right last week, so part of that learning was not just for the players, but for the coaches as well."

Three-time premiership Hawk Jack Gunston produced his best performance of the season against the side he departed last October on trade deadline day, 12 months after heading north to finish his career in Queensland.


The 32-year-old limited the influence of dual All-Australian Harris Andrews before finishing with four goals from seven marks in a telling performance a week out from his 250th game.

"We've had trouble with Harris Andrews; he is one of the premier defenders in the competition; he owns the air and we thought we might be a bit undersized and less experienced in the air," he said.

"If we were able to curtail him a little bit – he has been one of my personal favourite players for eight years – so if we could nullify him with the smarts that Jack brings, we thought that would help us.

"It is really a bonus that he hits the scoreboard. He really helps the structure of the team. (Game number) 249 for him, so it will be a big week for him coming up."

Brisbane has reached its mid-season bye with four and a half wins on the board, slightly recovering from a 0-3 start but still ten points behind eighth-placed Carlton after round 11.

Lions coach Chris Fagan was measured in his post-match press conference, frustrated to lose a game where his side didn't capitalise on their third quarter dominance, but optimistic Brisbane can emulate what Carlton and Greater Western Sydney did in the second half of last year.


"It is a tight season. We look at Carlton last year, they had four wins and a draw, the Giants might have had five wins. Both got through to preliminary finals," Fagan said.

"The competition is that tight this year that you can’t afford to get too downhearted about results, you’ve just got to get ready for the next game and start again. That’s how I see it.

"We’ve had some really good moments this year and we’ve had some games where we’ve been disappointed with ourselves. We’ll just keep working at ways to try and get our consistency back."

Brisbane will return to Marvel Stadium after the weekend off to face the Western Bulldogs in the Friday night fixture of round 13.