Hawks coach has nightmare AFL return

Bradley Hill did a knee, Brad Sewell did his hamstring again, Brian Lake did his block and North Melbourne did Hawthorn.


Welcome back, Alastair Clarkson.

The Hawks coach had a tough return to the AFL on Friday night at Etihad Stadium, with trouble even before the opening bounce.

The Hawks did well to restrict North’s winning margin to 20 points, given how badly they were taken apart in the third term as Lake had one of his notorious brain snaps.

The signs were ominous when Hill hurt his knee in the warmup and Hawthorn had to replace him only a couple of minutes before the first bounce.

Then Sewell hurt his hamstring for the second time this season during the first quarter, meaning the Hawks were a man down on the interchange bench for most of the game.

It obviously also raises questions about Sewell’s AFL future, given he is 30.

Despite those injuries and North’s strong start, Hawthorn rallied and led by four points early in the third term.

Then came a succession of brain snaps from Lake, including a stupid 50m penalty that gifted his opponent Drew Petrie a goal.

It recalled the worst of his behaviour when he was at the Western Bulldogs and driving then-coach Rodney Eade to distraction.

Lake eventually was moved down the other end of the ground to cool off.

As Lake lost the plot, Petrie kicked three of his five goals and North kicked six in a row, blowing the lead out to 35 points.

As Clarkson noted, that period during the third term was the game in a nutshell.

The worst of Lake’s moments was a fierce-looking wrestle with Petrie that is certain to come under video review.

Lake appeared to choke Petrie, while Petrie made contact with Lake’s face.

Clarkson, who normally is very careful not to criticise his players publicly, was scathing post-match.

“He was a bit scratchy and we’re pretty disappointed with that five or six-minute patch,” Clarkson said.

“He let himself down and he left his teammates down and the game was right in the balance at that time. To incur that 50m penalty

“He’s been pretty good for us. He was pretty average tonight and we’re disappointed with that, but we move on and we hope that hope that he responds from that.”

The loss had Clarkson joking that he heard one or two calls of “bring back Bolton” from Hawks fans.

His assistant Brendon Bolton had led Hawthorn to five-straight wins while Clarkson recovered from illness.

But there will be no humour when Lake and his team-mates meet with Clarkson on Monday to review the match.