Isaac Smith, pictured consoling Ricky Henderson, has become one of the Hawks’ strongest leaders. Picture: AFL Media/Getty Images
Isaac Smith, pictured consoling Ricky Henderson, has become one of the Hawks’ strongest leaders. Picture: AFL Media/Getty Images

Hawks to learn from ‘two worst’ games of year

HAWTHORN vice-captain Isaac Smith is confident the huge strides the club took this season and the experiences gained by first-time finals players can push the club deeper into September next year.

Smith, 29, lamented the fact that the Hawks played two of their worst games of the year in finals losses to Richmond and Melbourne to bow out in straight sets.

But he backed the team to reload for 2019, saying the game-plan works, even if it has to be executed with more clarity and finesse.

 

"They were two massive finals," Smith said of the 90,000-plus qualifying and semi-final crowds.

"We probably just played our two worst performances of the year.

"We had high expectations ourselves (going into the season), but we certainly exceeded the expectations of the general public.

"I think we found three or four players this year, which is pleasing, and hopefully they can grow over summer.

"We have shown we've got the game plan.

"We just need to execute it better."

One of his club's most consistent players this season, the hard-running Smith said the Demons deserved the credit for their success, but admitted to frustration that the Hawks played "safe footy" for much of the clash on Friday night.

 

Smith gets his kick away under pressure from Demon James Harmes in Friday night’s loss. Picture: AAP
Smith gets his kick away under pressure from Demon James Harmes in Friday night’s loss. Picture: AAP

"We probably played a bit of safe footy for the first three quarters," he told the Sunday Herald Sun.

"When we actually took it on, that changed the tempo of the game and we were able to move the ball a bit better.

"We probably had to pull a few kicks and stuff, but they were too good.

"They can go to Perth and try to get the chocolates over there."

The Hawks missed a number of opportunities - in front of goal and in general play - early in the contest, particularly when booting 0.6 in the second term.

"That was a bit uncharacteristic," he said of the misses, but "I guess that is the pressure the opposition puts on you, too."

Smith revealed the reason why the Hawks' team showed great mirth during skipper Jarryd Roughead's address on the field immediately before the game.

"He just muddled up a couple of words, the big fella," Smith said.

He said the players had put in a lot of hard work to see the club rise from 12th last year to reach the top four at the end of the home-and-away season, and says he is optimistic about 2019.

"We have shown a lot of growth, we are completely different side to two or three years ago," he said.

"Our expectation at Hawthorn was that it would turn around quickly, but we have put in a lot of hard work to make it happen."



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