Mitch Lewis leaves the field with a cut head during the R17 match between Hawthorn and Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on July 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN coach Sam Mitchell is hopeful that "battered" forward Mitch Lewis has escaped injury after a nasty collision in the fourth term of the club's 51-point loss to Geelong.

Lewis – playing his first AFL game in two months after a persistent knee issue – was accidentally collected in the back of the head by an errant Jake Kolodjashnij elbow in a marking contest.

CATS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

He lay on the ground for some time, before leaving in the hands of trainers with a towel on the back of his bleeding head and appeared to be limping on his strapped knee.

Mitchell said he had not checked in with doctors before attending his post-match press conference and could not provide an update on Lewis' health. 

"It was a fair bit of blood, and he was a bit battered after the game, a bit sore and sorry for himself. But I haven't – other than to give him a hug and rub his shoulder gently, rather than his head – I haven't spoken too much to the medical guys, I'm not sure what's come out of the game yet," Mitchell said.

"Hopefully he's not too bad, he was probably a bit too courageous in that incident. I haven't spoken to the doctors yet, but I don't think they've done [a concussion test] at this stage.


"He had two icebags on [his knee] when I left the rooms. I thought it was better to come in here a bit naïve, then to tell you what I know. I actually don't know the answer, time will tell."

The Hawks had won five games on the trot – and eight of their past 11 – until Saturday night's clash at GMHBA Stadium, with the Cats controlling proceedings for the entire match.

"They're a good side and I've said in most of my press conferences, we're far from a finished product. When you watch the very best teams play, that's what they look like," Mitchell said.


"We've had a good block of games, we've been playing some good footy, but I still think there's a gap from us and the good teams at the top, and they were one of those today and have been for a long time. 

"They've got a lot of experience in that side, and they handled everything we threw at them with relative ease. We obviously didn't handle the start of the game particularly well, and they were too good to let us get back in with a sniff at any stage."

On paper, the Hawks matched the Cats in the middle of the field, but Mitchell said the advantage of three in clearances was misleading.

"Even though the clearance numbers perhaps look close, particularly in the first half, they really had some dominant clearance play," he said.

"They really set the game up well, and we struggled to get any territory. Because of that, we had two options – one was to go long and straight and try to shut the game down a bit, and the other was to open up and play with a bit more flair. We tried both, we had a little bit of success doing one or the other, but they were too good for us."


Geelong coach Chris Scott said recent positional moves, including Sam De Koning into the ruck and Tom Stewart into the midfield, haven't been spur of the moment decisions which have snapped the Cats out of a losing streak.

"I've never been more of the mind that you've got to keep an open mind. The idea that you'll just find a formula and be the best team and you won't lose, it's just not congruent with the modern game and the evenness of it all," Scott said.

"Sydney and Carlton, for example, are in great form at the moment, but I'm sure in 10-12-15 weeks' time, everything will be a little bit different. So you need to keep pushing and find a way. 

"We were really conscious that our whole message to our footy department wasn't 'we're out of form so we're going to experiment, we're going to throw the magnets up in the air' – all the moves we've made have been discussed over a long period of time."


Patrick Dangerfield played 57 per cent game time, the vast majority in the first half, the Cats wrapping him in cotton wool after the main break and eventually subbing him off for the final 15 minutes.

But the skipper was in excellent touch, the only doubt over his troublesome hamstrings on a bitterly cold Geelong night.

"No real reason other than we thought it's been successful getting him back, it's his third game now, and we'll take the bird in the hand," Scott said.

"I get it, around the competition everyone strives to be system-first, but your best players help, and he's really helped us. 

"We don't have a plan to do it, it was a bit more circumstantial today. I wouldn't be looking at that and thinking it's going to be a trend over the next couple of weeks. It may end up that way, but it wasn't even a plan going into today, it's just the way it rolled."