ALASTAIR Clarkson admitted there were a few moments where he believed his Hawks had sneaked a remarkable victory over Greater Western Sydney in Launceston on Saturday afternoon.
Amidst the commotion in the coaches box during a frenzied final 12 seconds of the drawn match at University of Tasmania Stadium, the Hawthorn supremo missed the siren and briefly celebrated as the ball was rushed through for what looked like being a match-winning point.
But as the dust settled he soon realised his new-look Hawks had fallen agonisingly short of forcing what would have been a truly remarkable result on a see-sawing afternoon of football.
"I think the siren went just before we were able to knock the ball through," he told reporters in Launceston.
"Because I didn’t hear the siren, I thought we’d won it.
"(It’s) the old Maxwell Smart, isn’t it? Missed it by that much."
By consigning the Giants to their second successive draw, the Hawks left Launceston with two premiership points – points that may be considered a bonus given they appeared dead and buried with six minutes to go and facing a 13-point deficit.
Especially pleasing to Clarkson, however, were wins in a number of key performance indicators and the fact his side had not relied solely on star veterans to claw their way back into the contest as has been the case on so many occasions in the past.
"We won a lot of key indicators, inside 50s, we won our contested ball which hasn’t been great for us in the past, so we were pleased with a lot of aspects of our game here," Clarkson said.
"We’ve got a lot of younger players playing at the moment, particularly in our back end. It’s nearly unrecognisable our back end from what we’ve put out on the park over the last four or five years, so just enormous learning and great growth for those players to get that exposure against a high-quality opposition.
"We’re excited with where some of these young kids are going to take us."
Tom Mitchell was superb for the Hawks, racking up 39 touches to break the 30-possession mark for an AFL record 12th consecutive match, but Clarkson insisted the star onballer had plenty of help in the midfield as the Hawks charged home for a genuinely memorable result at their second home.
"Mitchell, (Ben) McEvoy, (Isaac) Smith, (Shaun) Burgoyne, the whole crew of them through there acquitted themselves really well in that part of the ground," he said.
"At different stages I thought we were the better side on the day but in the last quarter GWS were the better side and they perhaps should have won it from the position they were in with three or four minutes to go.
"The draw’s a reflection of a pretty even contest right throughout the course of the game and both sides played some good footy.
"As I said, they’re good games of footy when there’s close to 100 points scored by either side. I reckon that makes for some pretty exciting footy."