HAWTHORN'S disappointing fade out in its 42-point loss to the Western Bulldogs was as simple as an effort issue, according to coach Sam Mitchell.
The Hawks well and truly had the jump on the Dogs, rattling out to a 20-0 lead before conceding 13 consecutive goals across the second and third terms.
Both sides then kicked seven majors each in the final quarter.
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"We only had 15 inside 50s for two quarters. Despite being a young group, that's not an excuse, we just didn't have enough players who were tough enough for long enough today," Mitchell said.
"They're a really good side, and their midfield in particular is first class. We just weren't capable of matching it with them for long enough today, so that's our challenge. We've proven we can match it with a really strong side like that for periods of the game, but we just can't do it for long enough, that's not acceptable in our standards and what we want to achieve as a group.
"There's a little bit of disappointment – more than a little bit of disappointment – in how that looked, particularly in quarters two and three."
Mitchell passionately addressed the group immediately at the start of the three-quarter time break before they split to their line groups, and explained what was behind the speech that led to a comeback of sorts.
"We wanted a response. As a coach, you try to set the game up to help the players by changing structures, or positional changes, anything you think that will help," he said.
"Basically, my message was – it sounds like a funny thing to say – but 'I'm not going to help you with structure, because if we can't win contests, then we can't win games. So we're going to go back to a very basic game and we just have to be tougher for longer in the last 30 minutes.
"They had the game basically sewn up at that point, but we did produce a better level of play in the last quarter. Acknowledging that we tried to help this game, tried to structure the game to help us, but it hadn't worked because we hadn't been tough enough for long enough.
"So, in the last quarter we went back to a very basic version of the game, simplified everything and got a better response. It was a step forward, but too little, too late."
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge praised the game of dynamic midfielder Tom Liberatore, who kicked the Dogs into gear in the second term.
"'Libba' got us going. Some of his ground-ball collision plays that he was able to handball and shape out and give us an opportunity going forward of play really lifted his teammates," Beveridge said.
"His output and his impact was imperative."
The Bulldogs kicked 19 goals from 12 goalkickers, a stat which should hold them in good stead coming into a tricky part of their fixture, coming up against Brisbane, Sydney, St Kilda, Melbourne, Geelong and Fremantle.
"That's probably the fifth time in the past seven games we've kicked over 100 points, and we didn't like the last quarter – Hawthorn kicked seven and we kicked 7.1, that's not how we want to play, and it happened a bit last week as well," Beveridge said.
"There's still a hell of a lot of the season to go, and no-one's sure where anyone ends up yet. We've beaten some sides where the commentary around Collingwood, Gold Coast, GWS have got some energy about their side at the moment.
"The Hawks have defeated Geelong and Brisbane, so they're a huge danger. We think these games are important and as challenging as playing teams who are above you, quite factually, on the ladder."
Beveridge was uncertain whether ruck Tim English – who missed Friday night's clash with concussion – would make the trip north to Brisbane, given the game is on Thursday, and confirmed Ed Richards (also concussion) would definitely sit out the match.