Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has heaped praise on his midfield after a 116-point rout of West Coast lifted the club off the bottom of the AFL ladder.
The Hawks ran roughshod over the injury-hit Eagles in Launceston on Sunday to clinch their second win of the season and rise to 16th on the ladder.
Mitchell urged his team to enjoy the victory after “shooting themselves in the foot” last round against Melbourne, and narrow losses to GWS and Adelaide in April.
“Most games this year we’ve taken some steps of improvement,” he said.
“A lot of things went right (against West Coast). But some of the progress we’ve made from the training we’ve done was the thing we’re probably the most proud of.”
Hawthorn dominated across the individual and team stat sheets, with Mitch Lewis scoring a career-best six goals.
James Sicily and Conor Nash picked up an equal game-high 30 possessions, while Josh Weddle and James Worpel weren’t far behind with 28 and 27 respectively.
Mitchell said Nash had taken his game to a new level this year as part of his shift towards the middle of the field.
“If it’s not him, it’s (Jai) Newcombe, (James) Worpel, (Will) Day, (Cam) Mackenzie or (Josh Weddle),” Mitchell said.
“The balance of our midfield is one of the strengths of what we’re producing at the moment.
“Last year we were sort of 18th in most midfield statistics,” Mitchell said.
“We thought if we rejuvenated the midfield in particular that might be an area we could improve pretty quickly (but) we’re far from a finished production around the middle of the ground.”
Hawthorn play St Kilda on Saturday afternoon but may be forced to make changes, with Sam Frost on report for striking.
Ruckman Ned Reeves was subbed out in the third quarter with an ankle problem.
“He had a bit of an ankle (issue) the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure if it is in the same sort of area. It was pretty precautionary,” Mitchell said.
Getty images/Steve Bell