Hawthorn have overcome distractions surrounding the Alastair Clarkson-Sam Mitchell coaching handover to produce a stunning 12-point upset of finals-bound Brisbane in Launceston.
After a tumultuous few weeks off the field, it was confirmed on Friday that master coach Clarkson will pass the reins to Mitchell at the end of the season – one year earlier than previously planned.
The Hawks entered Sunday’s contest with questions marks over how they would respond to the shock news, and with only percentage separating them from last-placed North Melbourne.
But their intensity was at a far higher level than Brisbane’s for three quarters and four unanswered goals in the opening term laid the platform for the 14.8 (92) to 12.8 (80) win at UTAS Stadium.
The Lions charged home late, kicking eight goals to one in the final term, but ran out of time to erase a margin that had blown out to 53 points before three-quarter time.
They have now lost three of their last four matches in a worrying run of form just a month out from the finals.
Hawthorn caused a raft of front-half turnovers to create opportunities for their forwards and experienced duo Luke Breust (three goals) and Chad Wingard (two) were among those who cashed in.
Wingard (32 disposals) was outstanding all day, but Breust was helped off with a right knee injury during the third quarter after playing a key role in setting up the Hawks’ match-winning lead.
Brisbane temporarily lost Jack Payne in the same incident as Breust fell across the defender’s left leg on his way to ground.
Emerging Hawk Conor Nash excelled in the midfield, tallying 23 disposals and seven clearances.
Established stars Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell combined for 69 disposals and 14 clearances, while James Worpel was another strong contributor.
Brisbane produced their first goalless quarter of the season in an opening term when they coughed up a 20-5 inside-50 advantage the Hawks.
Daniel McStay (four goals) was the only Lions forward who looked dangerous as the likes of Joe Daniher, Charlie Cameron wand Lincoln McCarthy went missing for most of the day.
Nakia Cockatoo celebrated his first on-field action in more than three years by kicking Brisbane’s first goal of the match early in the second term.
The injury-prone former Geelong midfielder was an unused substitute for the Lions a week earlier and finished with eight disposals in his comeback.
Jarryd Lyons had 38 disposals and nine clearances as Brisbane’s best afield.
The Lions will now travel to Perth for seven days in quarantine before taking on Fremantle in round 21, while Hawthorn are due to return to Launceston for a clash with Collingwood.